Amusing Grace

I didn't exactly use a lot of wisdom back in the 70s. I remember wearing short skirts on church platforms and event stages, then being reprimanded later for my lack of discernment in my choice of attire (or "attire-less"). Today, I wouldn't be caught dead in a short skirt and that's not because I have some sort of clothes-line religion - just that I care NOT to expose my white-pillar dimpled thighs and "shar pei" wrinkled knobby knees to the world. The "amusing grace" about this is: At one time, I had pretty nice legs! And now I don't, so there's no need to subject them to the public.

A young teenage girl asked me recently to evaluate her performance, her singing and her stage presence. (I find this to be a very delicate thing to do, by the way..) But I did it anyway. Before she sang a note, I asked her, "What will you be wearing when you sing and lead worship?" She said, "Hmm, never thought much about that. Probably what I'm wearing now..". (She had on shorts and a T-shirt) I told her my story from the 70s and encouraged her to "think" about her fashion statement before representing the gospel on stage. A chill went down my spine, realizing that I had become exactly that same archaic old-fashioned voice who reprimanded me 37 years ago! Amusing Grace.

I was at a conference where a scantily clad young woman was singing in the worship band. I could not imagine what the men were thinking, let alone the teenage boys in the crowd. I assumed everyone around me thought I was very spiritual, because from the moment she hit the stage, I slammed my eyes shut - not opening them until the worship segment was over. The "Amusing Grace" part about this was: While trying to focus on worshipping God, I kept "seeing" myself 37 years prior, in my little white mini-skirt - trying to sing for Jesus!

As women, we're all better off when we choose to represent Christ in a fashionably modest way. I know how tough that can be, especially in the summer months with all the media venues hitting us with what is "cool" and "chic" to wear. I'll be forever indebted to Moody Bible's Dr. Rosalie de Rosset for her workshop, "Thinking Theologically in a Hollywood Mindset", at the Elmbrook Women's Conference a few years back. If you'd like a copy or download of her teaching, post a comment here and I'll send it to you or give you information on how you can get it. It'll shock you, move you, disturb you and create in you a real desire to counsel our young girls (and sometimes the older gals too!) on how they (we) dress. I guarantee, you'll need the "amusing grace" to have the courage to lead, represent and instruct. If we don't do it (in love), who will?


Shawna said...

AWESOME word Sue! I do agree with you but also think that we have to be very careful on how we encourage. I was a modest young lady as a new youth Pastor's wife. Made sure I was dressed appropriately. But I was taken aside by the Pastor's wife who did not have the time of day for me usually and was told she didn't approve of the way I dressed that my clothes were form fitting and inappropriate. Then she proceeded to say things that questioned God's call on my life because of it. Now I didn't have alot of guidance growing up but I did know one thing, my heart was right with God and she was very wrong. I made a decision then and there to be careful to encourage rather than to scold regarding such things...afterall, we may not know what is in their hearts...but God does. We must be careful not to wound in the process of teaching. Love your wisdom and love you! ;-)

Sue Duffield said...

Good stuff, Shawna. "Encouragement" sometimes isn't that at all... Using wisdom is key. And being the example first too, is best. And YOU for sure, are one good example!

Anonymous said...

Sue, thank you for sharing this! As a single guy trying to live focused on the Lord, this is a particularly cogent topic.

Now, I will say I am very much a non traditionalist when it comes to clothes and dressing for church. Maybe it is the influence of so many years living in Florida. But, I don't adhere to the dressing up for church philosophy. I have always thought the Lord had more pressing concerns regarding us.

But, where my sisters in the Lord are concerned, I am always very appreciative and grateful when they are not dressed provocatively in church or elsewhere for that matter.

I attended a wonderful hip-hop church in Florida that was one of the most loving I have attended. And, they were rightly concerned more with getting people saved than monitoring dress.

But, many of the female worship leaders would be on stage in painted on jeans and tiny, low cut tops. And, it was a challenge to stay focused on the Lord and worshipping Him when my eyes were being offered the picture on stage. And, no matter how many chants of "she's my sister in the Lord" I tried, it was very difficult to focus on worshipping.

Clearly, I or any male would probably not be the right person to address it with these wonderful women. And, I would be afraid of turning them off to the church, the Lord, etc. But, it does present a challenging situation. No one wants to be the clothes police. So, I would screw my eyes shut until the worship was over...

I would say, from a guy's perspective - my anecdotal two cents - that we are thrown off the most when the dress is not consistent with the occasion. If we go to the gym, we expect to see people in workout clothes. Go to the pool, you expect to see people in bathing suits. Drive downtown you expect to see people in business casual wear, etc.

But, drive downtown and see a lady in a bikini on the side of the road - that is out of context - that would throw us off....go to church - see someone in nightclub clothes - we get thrown off....

So, we Christian men are always appreciative of women who will help protect our eyes. Thank the Lord so many Godly women are great partners in living the Walk with us.

Sue Duffield said...

Such a great response too, Norm. I love it coming from your perspective. Thanks for posting your thoughts here. I pray and hope that some will read this and truly take it to heart. Proud of you.

Sean Mungin said...

This was an awesome word! I had no idea of this blog before posting what I posted on my Twitter page...but it was definitely confirmation!!!

Hopefully you mind if I shared the link...

God Bless,


Sue Duffield said...

Sean, don't mind at all - that's what it's here for! I hope to encourage women thru this, and not discourage.. But I also pray we use wisdom in everything. Norm's response, as a young man, is crucial and even better than I could approach it.