Testimony & Triumph

It has been quite some time since I have published any posts. I’ve taken the last year to focus mainly on my own family’s transitions.  The time that I have had to dedicate to the Bitter Belly over the last year has been dedicated to encouraging ladies in a private set of groups we’ve created to support women leaving fundamentalist religious groups.

I am so very pleased with the pace of transitions and new found freedom these ladies are experiencing. It’s absolutely beautiful to watch them blossom into the lovely individuals they were called to be. We feel as though we are picking up the broken pieces and building anew, putting our very selves back together. We’ve joined hand in hand sharing our struggles, heartaches, and our accomplishments. We laugh, cry, and share each and every step along the way lifting one another up as we go.

I thank God I am not alone.

Being able to share this experience has blessed me tremendously. When we reach the point where we find our voice and get past the initial shaking, an inner strength is born. We like to refer to this as flying.

Today I share one such voice who has found her wings, stepping forward with courage, she has shared her own experience with us. It’s often when we speak aloud these thoughts, from the confessions to the joyous achievements that true healing is recognized and acknowledged. That healing is very much needed for all.

I proudly give you one voice of many yet to come, Grace Henson.

Why I Choose To Be Modest In Pants, Skirts Or Dresses

Modest adj[1]

  • not very large in size or amount
  • not too proud or confident about yourself or your abilities : not showing or feeling great or excessive pride
  • of clothing : not showing too much of a person’s body

The very definition of modesty provides explanation that modesty cannot be accomplished by simply putting on a skirt or a dress. Attitude and one’s demeanor play a significant factor alongside one’s apparel. Considering many men find a skirt far more sexually appealing than pants, I asked the question, “What is at the root of wearing skirts?”

The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.

Deuteronomy 22:5[2]

I grew up understanding this scripture as the answer to why I wore only skirts or dresses. However, as I grew older and began working jobs outside of the home with women of like faith (only wearing skirts and dresses) the opportunity to observe the reactions of men presented itself. Their reactions of absolutely disgusting commentary concerning the actions they desired to have with these women caused me to consider:

  1. There simply had to be more to modesty then wearing a skirt.
  2. In the Biblical time frame the scripture was written “pants” and “skirts” weren’t even optional garments.

I decided this scripture had to have more depth to its’ interpretation and as I looked into the original Hebrew, my discovery was quite enlightening.

I began to realize I only held to that interpretation of scripture’s verse never considering the entire chapter or it’s context. It contained a long line of things I was not supposed to do such as wearing clothes that are of mixed materials[3]. Why take one rule but not all of them?

It was at this time I desired to understand and search deeper for what my motives were for wearing only skirts. I asked myself, “Is it because I am proud”? I knew in my heart I would be just as modest in jeans but the concern of everyone I loved and held dear to me viewing me as less of a person overwhelmed me. My fear was that they would regard me as a sinner. My resolve was strong. For three more years I continued in this “holiness standard“. Feeling more confident and liking myself better in a skirt kept me from feeling any loss.

The Events That Convicted and Changed Me

My Husband and I began attending a church with “those people”. You know, the ones that wear pants to church? I wore my dresses proudly because, after all, it was more appropriate and I felt I looked more “holy”.

Approximately eight months into attendance at this church I recognized a family who faithfully attended each week. Every service the lady appeared in her raggedy jeans and t-shirt. I would think to myself, “Really! This is church, doesn’t she know better?”

This particular service as I noticed her was the first time I felt conviction for that thought. As God would have it, I sat directly behind this woman on that Sunday. The pastor asked us congregants to pray for one another. As she took my hand, tears began rolling down her face as she asked God to help me though my week.

I don’t know that I have ever felt more humbled. I realized in that moment that I was the proud Pharisee in the temple belittling others[4]. I was determined to change.

Our pastor’s sermon was on Abraham and Isaac. God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac because that was the one thing that he possibly put before God. At the end of the sermon he asked us all to bow our heads in prayer considering what the “Isaac” was in our own lives.

As I was praying and thinking that there really wasn’t anything that I would not give up, I was reminded that I would not give up my religious traditions. I felt that was the one thing that God was asking me to give up.

I left church in tears. This wasn’t just asking me to give up traditions. This was asking me to give up pride; to give up any lasting respect that I had from my family. This was God asking me to virtually become an outsider to follow him.

That moment when I surrendered and said, “I will give it up for you” was the hardest decision I have ever made in my walk with God. All said and done, this has been my journey.

It may seem strange to some that in my walk with God I was actually convicted about wearing dresses. I strongly believe wearing dresses had nothing to do with my clothing, yet it had everything to do with my attitude, pride, and my thinking that wearing skirts or dresses somehow had something to do with my salvation instead of completely trusting in the blood of Christ alone.

But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

Samuel 16:7[5]

My prayer for not only myself but for each and every one of my friends is that when God looks at our hearts he likes what he sees.

Contributed by Grace Henson

[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/modest

[2] King James Version

[3]Luke 18:11 King James Version

[4] Deuteronomy 22:11 Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.

[5] King James Version

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