Modesty and the Older Woman

Modesty. So many values tied up in that one little word.Summer's Day in the Flower Garden

A woman comes to my mind when I think of modesty. She’s an older woman, one almost through rearing her children. She’s a pastor’s wife, a real lady, gracious and intuitive with kind brown eyes and long dark hair. At first glance you know this woman has class, and exchanging a few sentences with her confirms it.

She puts her faith and her family first, which translates to a whole lot of compassion and genuine caring about the rest of us.

As a younger mom, I want to be like a woman like this. I want to get to know her and have it rub off on me. As we get to know each other, I observe her in this order:

  • what does she wear to church?
  • how do her children behave?
  • how does she juggle all her responsibilities?
  • how does she respond to her husband in the good and bad times?

I notice a couple things up front:

  1. She’s extremely feminine, always wears dresses to church w/o drawing attention to herself or appearing dowdy
  2. She’s content

Then I find out she homeschools. So I watch her children and am convinced. I want to be like this woman.

Because I was attracted to all these outward expressions of modesty, I got to know this woman, who thirteen years ago was my pastor’s wife. I soon realized that her attractiveness was directly related to her relationship with her Heavenly Father.

And I learned an important lesson about modesty. It’s not confined to how we dress, it’s a heart-response to a desire to downplay us and in doing so, let His light shine however it may bring Him glory.

We can try in our flesh to be modest, to dress the “right” way, but if we’re not doing it in the right spirit, what difference will it make to those watching?

Trends have changed…little girls wearing Daisy Kingdom aren’t the rage anymore…nor are the dainty Laura Ashley type dresses we all used to wear.

I look around on Sunday morning and believe me, I notice who decided to wear a dress/skirt. I don’t notice from a judgmental perspective, but from a mother-raising-three-daughters perspective, and maybe, if I’m honest, there’s a little bit of that younger woman still in me that needs an older woman to hold the standard high.

Because with the standards all around us dipping low and riding high, doesn’t the church need to stand firm?

Whether we realize it or not, we’re sending a message and my little girls, among others, are watching.Young Girls Dressing

Next Sunday, join me in something. Search out a young girl wearing a dress and admire her choice. Reinforce her modesty and her desire to dress “up” for church by telling her how nice she looks.

In this jean and Capri-clad fashion-dictated world, you might be the only one who does.

For more submissions on modesty, visit Rebecca, this month’s modesty carnival hostess, at Between My Peers

20 thoughts on “Modesty and the Older Woman”

  1. Mary, I am sure you will frown at this, but I do tend to wear jeans to church, however, with very nice tops. My tops are soley for church and not worn anywhere else.

    Sunday, I wore capris, black dress ones, to church and I was complimented.

    I have always hated wearing dresses, even as a little girl. They just don’t seem to fit right on me.

  2. Leticia, I don’t frown on it. I’m not trying to convert anyone, or say that my feelings on this are the only ones that are correct. It’s just *my* story, how I’ve approached the whole issue and where I’m at now in my life. I don’t look at the many women in my church that aren’t wearing dresses and judge them. I love them all! I just get sad when I think that once things change enough in a certain direction, they never come back. People now feel like they can go to the store in their pajamas, and when I was in school, girls came to classes in crotch-torn jeans.

    And I love dresses, so any excuse to wear them is a good thing. But my dh’s family is just like you, his mom and sister don’t feel comfortable in dresses, so they don’t wear them. I like being able to say to them that they can come casual to church because so many people do…it’s not a big deal.

    I’m not frowning on you, or anyone. It’s just how I feel about me and my family, and yes, deep down, I wish everyone felt that way, but we’ve all got to follow our convictions, right?

    Love you, Leticia! 🙂

  3. I can see your point of view and I do appreciate it.

    I guess it all depends on the woman and what she feels more comfortable in.

    I loved these posts.

    Luv ya, too!

  4. Great idea to compliment young women wearing dresses. I saw a young lady in church today who was wearing a spaghetti strap sundress, but she had a shawl covering her shoulders. Very nice way to cover up for church. Yes, I bet they’d really appreciate the compliments and reinforcement.

  5. Thanks, Leticia!

    Welcome to HSH, Mary! Glad you dropped by, and thanks for sharing the shawl tip. My six year old has a lightweight poncho, on the dressy side, that she’s worn with sleeveless dresses before…

  6. Very sorry to say that I did not even see a girl, other than my daughters that were dressed for church this past Sunday. We visited another one and it was rather disappointing.

    As Mary has said, I’m also not trying to judge others and what they wear to church. It is between them and the Lord and you should most certainly be at church for reasons other than what you are wearing! But, the standard has lowered, and standards are not easily raised once they are lowered.

    Yes, I do look at the way people dress and the way their children behave, especially at church, but just in general. Everyone probably does. This is what you see first and what you base an opinion on until you get to know that person better. Why wouldn’t you want to make a great impression?

  7. Sad to say, it takes on even greater meanings when you yourself are raising girls and desiring them to want to dress according to whatever “standards” your family has agreed upon.

    I really think most Christian teens don’t have a clue. Perhaps they think being modest is going from wearing bikinis to halter tops. Or they may cover up the essentials but with tight clothing, and think that’s all that matters.

    I’m sorry you had another bad experience this Sunday.

  8. I needed to read this. I agree 100% with you about modesty and dresses and femininity, but it’s so easy to get caught up in summer and being surrounded by summer dresses and capris. Thanks for the reminder of the importance of modesty for the sake of our daughters and the Kingdom of Christ.

  9. You’re welcome, thank you for sharing this with me, Amy! Iron sharpens iron, right? I know this issue of modesty is one I need to keep ever mindful of myself.

  10. I have always wanted to have a daughter and dress her up so that is how it will be for our daughter!! Of course, I am sure once she hits the “teenage years” she will have a mind of her own and choose what she wears! Right now I only have a very small collection (collection being 2 I think!) of dresses so unfortunately I have to wear other clothes to Church. This is not by choice though. Me and DH just bought a house and so in the year preceding the purchase we were saving money for that and still now we are feeling the effects of the purchase so I haven’t bought too many new clothes in the last year or two…only “practical, multi-purpose” clothes that work well for everday, yet still look nice. I was brought up to dress up for Church so it is instilled in me to want to dress up, even if it is i subtle wayes. I just hope I get that sewing machine for Christmas and then I can start making my own dresses!!

  11. Like I said in another modesty post around here somewhere, wearing dresses to church wasn’t always important to me. I still don’t think of it as a “must” for other people, I just felt like I’d come to a time in my life, esp with little girls wanting me in dresses at church (!), that I needed to just commit to it each Sunday. It’s too easy, for me, to get in a rut of wearing slacks each week once I start. I’ve got 4 skirts and not nearly enough dressy shirts, but it works! My fall/winter church clothes are more abundant, so that’s nice for right now at least!

    Have you been doing your research on sewing machines? I love my Elna!

  12. Is that what you have? I haven’t been researching yet (other than seeing a few in Wal-Mart and the Sears catalog) but I don’t know much about what kinds are good and what aren’t. My Mom has a serger and loves it but I don’t know if that’s for more heavy-duty stuff or what…I gotta google it a bit I think haha.

  13. I absolutely loved reading this! I also found myself in complete agreement with you. I believe the church does need to stand firm ladies dressing as ladies. There are plenty of very pretty dresses out there for our daughters to wear with out looking 80 yrs old, but yet respectful and sophisticated.

    I have two daughters my self and know the struggle it can be, however, I also know I have a responsibility to teach them to dress as a lady. Usually what a young lady wears on the outside will determine how they act on the outside. It’s a hard balance to teach our little ladies but they are worth it.

    Dressing respectfully for church also prepares your heart for receiving God’s word……for example, you wouldn’t go to an opera with jeans, and sneakers, or gym clothes on. So I think the same principle applies to attending church.

    In any case, if we desire our little ladies to grow into mature, respectable women, like the pastor’s wife you mentioned……..then it has to start while they are young with everything from clothes to attitudes, and a relationship with their heavenly father.


  14. Geri, yes, I have an Elna, it was a graduation present, and has been a very reliable machine with many sewing options. Sergers are wonderful but for regular sewing you’ll want a normal machine. I wish we had a serger in the family, though!

    Rebecca, I’m so glad you chimed in with your thoughts, I really appreciate hearing from another mother of daughters on this subject. It does sometimes seem like our respect for God is less when we “dress up” for other occasions more than we do for Him. Things have certainly changed from the fifties when women wore dresses and heels to the supermarket! I do think the most important part of dressing modestly is our attitude. If we’re truly “wearing dresses” out of honor to God, then what other people are wearing isn’t an issue to us, only perhaps in the fact that we wish those other examples were more abundant for our daughters to observe. And sons…I don’t have any, but I imagine I’d hate to bring my teenage son to a church service where he was surrounded by temptation in the form of tight jeans and bare waists and lowcut or clingy shirts!

    I guess my point with the attitude is that it’s easy to be taken as “holier than thou” and that’s not what we’re after if we want our outward man to reflect a truly modest spirit…

    Thanks again, Rebecca! I love it when new people take time to share their hearts!

  15. You worded that really nicely Rebecca…I like the opera comparison.

    Thanks Mary…now I know at least to choose a regular sewing machine for DH to pick out for me…and it’s good to know that an Elna works well…I don’t know of any brands other than the ones that have been around for ages like Singer…I don’t even know if they still have those…guess I will have to start looking! Thanks for the help!

  16. I have always wanted to have a daughter and dress her up so that is how it will be for our daughter!! Of course, I am sure once she hits the “teenage years” she will have a mind of her own and choose what she wears! Right now I only have a very small collection (collection being 2 I think!) of dresses so unfortunately I have to wear other clothes to Church.

  17. Hi there! Yes, there are many of us wondering about the “teenage years”…but you know what, I’m hoping if we train right while they’re little, maybe the teen years will be more of a joy?!? We can always hope…

    Two dresses is a good start! Thanks for commenting!

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