Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Way-back Wednesday

I grew up in a very conservative family, going to Christian school and a Bible church. And yet, for all our fundamental conservatism, the dress code for how long our shorts had to be (at summer camp, youth group, stuff like that) was fingertip length. That is, if you stand up, let your arms hang down to your sides, where your fingertips are are how long your shorts had to be.

Seriously? I would not wear shorts that short now. We're talking about what, a 3-inch inseam?

Our skirts could only be 2 inches above the ground when we were kneeling. Even our hockey kilts. (I guess my Christian school was a little more conservative than my church?)

I went to Bob Jones University for college (I am quite flattered, nowadays, when someone learns this about me and gushes, "you don't seem like a person who went there") where the dress code was more strict: no pants outside the dorm except for sports on back campus; hose* on at all times (except with said pants); bow in the hair (OK, not really, but my friends and I obsessively wore them as if it was a requirement).

*hose being nylons or tights. Panty hose, as it were.

I didn't realize how non-conservative our short length was in high school until I worked at a Christian summer camp and their rule was knee-length. A good 10 years later, longer shorts came in style, too late for me to avoid buying boys' shorts and wearing them low on my hips in a droopy, sloppy, and ill-fitting style.

One of my clearest memories of working at that camp was one morning, trying to get a jr high camper into "appropriate" clothing: another counselor and I were taking turns insisting she follow the rules and put on longer shorts (or something, a shirt with sleeves, who knows now) and it seemed that our inflexibility was just going to drive her away from knowing God at all, so finally I went into her room and said, "God doesn't care what we wear when we come to Him, but since you're here we have dress code rules and we need you to follow them." And that was the end of it. That seemed to be what she needed to hear.

When I said those words, I was just beginning to understand that indeed, God does not care what we wear when we come to him. I had spent so many years dressed up all the time and trying so hard to fit someone else's (various institutions') standards for what would appear holy. There was lots of God's judgement and not much grace.

(I don't want this to be a complete criticism of the people and places of my growing-up years; I think a lot of my issues with legalism, rules, outward appearances, etc., come from my immaturity at the time, but I wasn't going to get into that today.)

These days I've been known to wear pants to church. Somedays that's all that fits. We spent a lot of years not really going at all, and then one day the thought came to me, "God wants me in church wearing whatever than not in chruch at all. Clothes shouldn't keep me from Him." Still working on accepting that freely-given grace.

If you feel like this is a bunch of random thoughts strung together with a few weak connecting words, I feel the same way. but remember, this is going to be a series.

1 comment:

  1. my only real concern is the constant wearing of hose. i can't go 10 minutes without getting a run... that must have gotten expensive, no?