Clothing, Rebellion, and the Church

My twin sister didn’t like dresses. At. All.

We were probably five and she fought my mother as Sunday after Sunday we wore dresses, slips, tights, and fake patent leather shoes.

Heather 07 a

I loved to wear dresses, but most days I played in the dirt and watched ants work. So for a few hours on Sunday a dress didn’t bother me. At least not at the age of five or six or maybe even seven.

Slowly. Something changed. I don’t know if my sister wore down my mom or if the relaxed nature of the church we were now attending or if I suddenly discovered crossing my legs was not fun or some combination effected the change. But by the time I was 12 I was wearing umbro-like (I couldn’t afford real ones) shorts to church.

At some point over the years I began to wear that fact as a badge of pride.

“Yea, I get to wear umbros to church,” I’d boast to friends.

Somehow three-piece suits and dresses with panty hose meant the folks wearing them were judgmental, uptight. I was somehow more mature and free-er in Christ because it didn’t matter if I wore a dress or athletic shorts to church.

And it was my rebellion. I knew my mother would prefer me to wear nicer clothes to church. But I didn’t honor my parents. I honored my rebellion. I fed my pride. And I liked it.

And nearly twenty years later I see it for what it is…I see my clothing as a form of rebellion, a form of pride. And what I thought was freedom in Christ was really a form of self-righteousness. I judged those folks I deemed judgmental. I found myself more righteous than them because of my choice of clothing. And it hit me square in the face. Freedom can be pride if I don’t see it given me by a Savior.

And I look back at myself sitting in church in those athletic shorts and I want to tell myself…

“You don’t have dress-up to please God, but are you honoring God with what you are wearing? Would you wear athletic shorts on a date to a nice restaurant? There is grace. God doesn’t love you more or less because of what you wear. Regardless if it is three-piece suit or pajama pants. Give that same grace to others.”

And maybe that is the problem…Maybe I have I lost sight of my first Love? My Savior? Don’t I want to give Him my best?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t make my kids wear dresses every week to church. I don’t wear dresses to church every week. I even wear jeans at times…

My kids after church

But these questions remain:

Am I giving my best to God – every day – not just Sunday?

Is what I am wearing going to distract someone else from worshipping God? (see Romans 15 and 1 Timothy 2:9)

Do I look too much at the outside to decide someone’s character or relationship with God? How can I break down those preconceived notions and get rid of my self-righteousness?

Where is my heart as I get dressed for church? Am I trying to make a statement? If I am dressing for anyone but God perhaps it is a form of rebellion, pride, or self-righteousness.

Maybe if I am more concerned about where my heart is as I get dressed then God will give me grace and wisdom to stop seeing what people wear and start seeing what matters most. Their hearts.