"Um...Mommy?" Jewel's voice was timid, "is it OK for your knees to show when you're sitting in church?"
We were driving to Easter service and my dress had inched up above my knees.
"Well, honey, my dress will cover my knees when I'm sitting in church. It's just that when I'm driving---"
"So, if you showed up to church with a short skirt on, would they tell you to go home and change?"
"Because that's none of their business, right?"
And here I was, stuck in a pickle. Modesty is an issue I've struggled with for most of my life. I was raised in a very conservative home where every item of clothing was scrutinized for being too short, too tight, too low-cut, or too high-cut. Bikinis were banned, obviously. As were pierced earrings and painted nails.
I went through a rebellious stage a few years ago where I wore pretty much anything I wanted, including bikinis. A strange thing happened. I did not like strangers being able to see my cleavage. I felt stark naked wearing a bikini in a public place. Nobody was really looking at me, but I felt exposed. And also, I was so self-conscious all the time! All I could think about was myself and how I looked. Blech.
There's nothing like being self-conscious to ruin your worship at church. How could I concentrate on worshiping God if I was worrying about whether my bra strap was showing, or if my skirt had inched up? In other words, my immodest spirit (self-consciousness) hindered my ability to fully worship my Savior.
I can honestly say that my mind is changing about modesty not because someone exhorted me to go home and change. My mind is changing about modesty because I felt the sting of my conscience when Jewel noticed my short dress. Sure, my dress was long enough, technically. It covered my knees--if I pulled it down.
But my obedience to God shouldn't be about technicalities, right? My obedience to God ought to spring from love--and love doesn't do only what is strictly necessary. Love lavishes itself on the beloved.
How would I feel if my husband demonstrated his love for me only technically? I would feel so neglected!
In a culture that glorifies nudity, a woman who covers herself is rare. What I am beginning to see is that a woman who covers herself is, in fact, truly beautiful. Exposing oneself is not beautiful. It's degrading because it diminishes the beauty of the interior woman by focusing the attention on her exterior.
I doubt I'll need to make major changes to my wardrobe. I dress pretty conservatively as it is. But I want to make sure I listen to that still small voice.
Especially because I have three daughters who are watching me.