Monday, December 5, 2011

To Be or Not to Be (Modest)

Well, you all will be comforted to hear that this "bare foot hippie" pulled on a pair of socks this weekend.=) But, I am barefoot again today. We don't want to go overboard. After all, its still December, and we don't have any snow.
the 2011 tree in all its glory
We picked out our Christmas tree this weekend. And we expanded our horizons. In past years we would head to Menards and pick one of the maybe 10 trees they have out. This year we ventured to the tent in Panera's parking lot. We bought a 6' tall Black Hill Spruce. It is an interesting color-almost blue green. It is full and the branches are sturdy. It is beautiful.

We decorated it last night. I actually held my cool. Usually what ends up happening is I'm getting the decorations out, and the kids are grabbing them, and putting all the same ones in the same area. This year we did it slow. I showed them the different types we have-chinzy, wooden, pine cones, balls, icicles, unique-and then we hung them. It turned out pretty nicely. And everyone had a good time. No frustration on the kids' or parents' part.

Meres loves it. And the bottom branches are high enough, that I can put her right near the tree, and she can't reach any of the ornaments. But she thinks they are her own personal mobile.

Very cool. I have to finish decorating the house-wrapping the lights around the banister, setting out candles and such. But the tree was the big thing.

We also had a tooth broken this weekend. The boys were throwing toys, and one of them caught one in the mouth. Surprise trip to the dentist today. Here's to hoping this episode won't break the bank too.
I heard a sketch recently about home school moms talking to themselves. It's not worrisome as she is just having a parent-teacher conference.=) I talk to myself a lot. But usually in my head, not out loud.=)

And what have I been talking to myself about lately? Modesty.

I have been thinking a lot about the issue of modesty. And I've debated whether I should even blog about it. So many people have their opinions, and have expressed them. This is my take on the issue. It is probably not a fresh perspective, but it is where I've arrived over the years. I should also say, that most women I know dress very modestly, and have a very moderate stand on this subject.

But it seems (to me) like a majority of people who write on modesty take positions on modesty of "all or nothing." Amish-like, or denim jumpers, or completely slutty. Dumpy and frumpy or way too much skin. But the thing is, modesty is by definition, NOT extreme.

According to Webster's, modesty means marked by simplicity, having humble opinion of yourself, limited in size or scope, not large but sufficient, not offensive to sexual mores (the conventions that embody the fundamental values of a group) in conduct or appearance. It is freedom from vanity or conceit; formality and propriety in manner. Modest comes from the same Latin root word (modestus, modus) as moderate. Moderate is being within reasonable or average limits; not excessive or extreme. 

Being modest is dressing appropriately for activities. It is somewhat cultural, and somewhat religious. But though standards of dress have changed over the years, standards of modesty shouldn't. Our dress should always be appropriate and above all, God-honoring. I think I have a somewhat unique perspective based on my upbringing, and also my activities now.

Case in point: I am a swimmer. While my parents had us dress in skirts or dresses on a daily basis, they always has us wear swim suits. Obviously there is very immodest swimwear. And, actually, I'd never wear my swimsuit for anything but swimming (or sunning in my back yard. But since I've had babies, my hormones are rather whacked, which makes me sweat a lot, which makes me not want to sunbathe the way I did in my youth.)

But, what is the appropriate dress for lap swimming? Is it one of those "swim dresses" you see? I have a hard time seeing that. A swim dress would lead to a lot more drag, and would make lap swimming difficult, if not impossible. So I wear a racer suit-high neckline, modest cut leg. I get in the pool, do my thing, and get out. That is what everyone swimming with me is doing. We are there for fitness, not ogling.

I also am a runner. Or maybe I should say that I run.=) I wear running duds. That would be industrial strength undergarments, and a moisture wicking tank top, and then depending on the weather, I may be in shorts or pants, with other tops or not. My running undergarments could be termed the most modest undergarments I wear. I don't go for the bra/short short look that you see on professional guy and girl runners.

But I never wear my running duds anywhere, except for running. I don't feel they are appropriate for anything but running. I don't go to the grocery store in them, or go to Bible study in them, or work in them. They are for running. Would someone say my running clothes are immodest? They might.

I also don't subscribe to the line of thought of wearing dresses/skirts on a daily basis. I haven't since I was a teenager. I don't feel there is anything wrong with wearing dresses all the time. But, I also don't feel that is what I am called to do in order to be dressed modestly and appropriately. I wear jeans most days, with slacks for going out, and Bible study, and dresses for dressing up and church. That's me.

Modesty is an attitude as much as a clothing choice. If you have a rebellious attitude but are wearing a dress, is that modest? And, can you have a modest attitude-simple, humble, not offensive-dressed revealingly? Maybe, if you just don't know better. Modest dress is not trying to draw attention to yourself. Modesty is how you act. Being ladylike and all.

We women do have a responsibility to ourselves and others, to dress appropriately. And, I think we all do know when a piece of clothing is modest, or if it is borderline, or over the top.  When you are doing a lot of tugging and checking to make sure everything is still where it is supposed to be, and covered, it is probably not "modest."And the answer is not Amish or doing saris or burkas. Because in each of those cultures, women can point out what is and isn't modest according to their standards, even though they all look alike to us. We need to use some common sense. And wear classics. The things that don't go out of style are quite often pretty modest.

I would like to say though, that it truly gets my goat when men blame their impure thoughts on women. Get a grip. Really. Don't tell me about "car accidents happening from women dressing immodestly." Seriously? I asked my husband about that. Has he ever heard of one car accident happening because of a women's dress? Nope. He hasn't.

Yes, we are responsible for how we dress. You are responsible for looking. You can't help what crosses your eyesight, but you can choose to not look again. You can choose not to dwell on it. I will not go out of my way to tempt you. I will never wear something I think is immodest, or that my husband thinks is immodest, for that matter. We stand before God for what temptations we give in to or resist-be it food, or anger, or selfishness, or impure thoughts. It isn't what the other person did that you must give an account for, it is what you did. That is not to say that we won't give an account for stumbling a brother. But that is not the point.

Hanging icicles
Elsie and Brian hanging some ornaments
It is so much fun to experience the wonder of Christmas
through the eyes of someone seeing it for the first time!

Meredith enthralled

The cam padres. A bit dark, but you get the idea.

Anyway, this is the end of my spiel.=) I'm off my soapbox. And I'm on to some modest decorating.=)