Whenever I go to the mall or browse clothes online, I feel like I have been thrown into the cultures of time. How men and women dress has changed in the last twenty to thirty years. I did not grow up wearing designer clothes but my parents always made sure I looked nice. Because of them I never tried to be a part of the trends or wanting expensive, name brand clothes. My parents had rules about presenting yourself a certain way, wearing the proper under garments with my attire, especially shear or light clothing and low cut blouses. I had low self-esteem since I was around age six and I would do crazy things to get attention to feel better, like following friends wearing make-up, dressing inappropriately, which led to getting unwanted and improper attention, created wrong mindsets, wrong thoughts, wrong impressions, equating to many problems. After a while, I was tired of the negativity, rumors, fights, foolishness and I decided I wanted to be seen for the mind I had, not my body. I often wished I could wear a potato sack every day, so I stopped dressing to impress and to get attention. 1 Peter 3:3-4 NASB, “Your adornment must not be merely external--braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”
I look back at when I started wearing fitted jeans and short skirts and realized it was more for me and not to acquire a man’s attention, because I have had a lot of weight issues, up and down so I had to cater to my size at that moment. I never liked revealing blouses because I was harassed so much in High School, I preferred to stay covered up and I am always cold! I also realized that I catered to the men I was involved with, but I learned more about myself. After meeting a nice young man who loved the Lord, (I asked God to meet a young man with a heart for Christ, attended church, saved and sold out for Him, but I knew I was not ready); as we got to know each other, he told me that he did not want a woman who wore a lot of makeup, he preferred none at all; he did not want a woman who wore revealing clothing, he wanted a woman who preserved it all for him.
I thought, wow, he has not seen my closet; I had no problem with the make-up, I wore very little, but when I thought about my wardrobe, that would be a challenge, if we entered into a relationship. I asked him to show me in scripture what God said about how a woman should dress. He quickly referenced, 1 Timothy 2:9-10 NIV, “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” I ended up reading all of 1st and 2nd Timothy twice to get an understanding and then I had to pray and I pondered over more scriptures for additional reference, such as, Proverbs 31 NLT, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT; Isaiah 61:10 NLT; Ephesians 4:22-24 NLT; Romans 8:5, 12:1-2; Titus 2:11-14. I was not ready to change how I dressed for anyone. When I was ready I wanted to change for the Lord, not for a man, because I did not want to feel restricted or deceitful wearing what I wanted when he was not around. But God knows what we need at the right time and people come into our lives for a time and a season. It is interesting how God works, because, I used to attend church dressed in a variety of ways, but with caution because if my mother had a problem with how I looked, she had something to say. If she did not like my clothes, she bought me dresses ladies would wear. One Sunday, I wore jeans to church because I was going uptown with my mom to visit a friend in the hospital, but I did not care for the looks I received and that was the last day I wore jeans to Sunday service. Elder William Pointer recently preached one Sunday on women’s attire and being a distraction, if I did not think so before, I knew I was a distraction that day. Reading the books of Timothy caused me to pay attention to the dress code around church and when I did, after attending for over twenty years, I never noticed that those who serve are always professionally dressed. I was considering serving and this was a good time to put into practice what I read in the word. After my last Customer Representative Training class, I stopped wearing pants to Sunday services and to choose wisely. I reflected on what my mother’s teachings on dressing appropriately, how I should dress for church. Always stating that ladies wear a slip with a dress, to prevent others from seeing straight through you. Wear a lengthy dress, if I cannot bend without exposure, it is too short. Wear a camisole under low cut blouses and sheer.
What I have noticed over the years, these practices have gone out the window. I am not surprised with the amount of exposure on the television and in stores. I went to the mall to shop for some work clothes one day and left frustrated, everything was either too short, too tight, too revealing or just plain ugly and expensive! Each time I think about what I want to wear to go out or to attend church, this scripture comes to mind, Matthew 6:25 NASB, "For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
I make sure I have appropriate clothing for church, work and for different settings, knowing that there is a time and a place for everything. Some of the attire in the stores is too provocative and is not meant for church. What looks good on the model, may not look good on me and does not need to be in my closet. I thank God for my mother and my sister for being an example on proper attire and the Holy Spirit for keeping me in check and convicting me! I am always mindful of what I do and how I present myself! I joked with a woman one day saying, if it was not for Eve, we would not be worrying about what to wear today! We chuckled and she agreed. Though I am blessed to attend a church, where Pastor Bernard allows guests and members to come as they are, this has been abused. I am offended and distracted sometimes, but as my girlfriend told me, it is more important for souls to be won. Maybe that is all that person had in their closet. Maybe that person does not know any better. The subject came up again, and it was that maybe the mothers or older women in the church should address the issue. Either way, I hope Elder William Pointer’s message reached many and is conveyed to others, it was a good word!!