Tuesday, May 29, 2007

True Modesty

School is over and summer is finally here. Along with summer comes many challenges such as deciding how you will spend your summer, how much will I work, which trip will I go on, and how many camps do I volunteer for. With June comes numerous graduation open houses you are obligated to go to, July brings weddings, August is full of vacations and camps, and then comes September with the back to school push. One of the decisions you make is what will I wear. As you look for that perfect outfit for your friend's wedding or a swimsuit to wear at the beach what do you think about.

Modesty is a controversial topic that many people just avoid. Some view it as rules and regulations, others think they can never look cute and stylish if they are modest, some just want the attention they get when they dress scantily. I come to find that modesty is not just a matter of how short can my shorts be or what necklines can I wear but where is my heart at when I put on that outfit. Before you examine your closet examine your heart. In my heart I want to dress and act in a way that will not be a stumbling block to the men I encounter but more importantly I want to be a witness for Christ. Many girls will ask "Isn't lust just a guys problem? Why do I have to change just for them, they can deal with it." Guys do need to work on fighting lust but as sisters in Christ we can help them along. The way you dress can also affect other girls who may get discouraged in their quest for modesty or may develop low self-esteem because they think they do not look as good. They have been countless time when I have been in youth group and not been able to concentrate as I watched the midriff gap on the girl in front of me grow bigger and bigger or saw that tight, low cut shirt and my heart goes out to the guys in the room. So modesty can affect every, guys and girls, but how can we be modest.

I have no rules and regulations as what is right or wrong but here are some of my personal convictions based on what godly men and women have said about girls' modesty. If you are even in doubt steer towards caution and if possible run you outfits by a godly dad, mom, or brother. Guys, your part is below.


Tops: I try to avoid anything that would draw attention to my bust line or not cover my midriff. Focus on drawing attention to your face. Some styles to be very careful of or avoid are tube tops, spaghetti straps, halter tops, plunging v-necks and shirts with writing across the bust line. Before you leave the house sit down, bend over, and twist around to check to if the shirt is too short, bra straps might show, or there are gaps between buttons, and bend over to see if you can look down your shirt. Some easy fixes include layering several shirts to provide more coverage, safety pins can close up problem spots, and remember to hold a hand over your neckline if needed when bending over.

Bottoms: I want to make sure that my pants are never to snug, that you cannot see an under ware line, that skirts are not see through when the sunlight hits them, and that shorts are not to short. I good way to check shorts is to evaluate them while sitting in a chair or cross legged in front of a full length mirror. Beware of how far skirts will ride up when you sit down. I will not wear a skirt that is above my knees and have heard that slits in skirts can be unhelpful.

Swimsuits and formal wear: I believe that the location does not change the standards. I know that modest formal wear may be hard to find but it is out there and many dresses can be easily modified. Swimsuit are also a challenge to find. Easy updates to a suit include swim or exercise short and a tee shirt. I have heard a college guy asked "Are two piece swimsuits a problem?" and the answer was an immediate "Yes!" Do you guy friends a favor and spend the extra money on a suit or let the tan suffer to be modest.

Random Comments: Guys are often taller to girls so what does your neckline look like as you gaze down at it. Along the same lines, as I sat in several different places at church the past few weeks I got some different perspectives. When I was in the balcony I was able to look down several shirts on girls on the main level and as I gazed across the sanctuary there where several short skirts that you could look up. Also when you sit in the balcony or go up stairs be careful of your skirts. Be very cautious on lying down around guys, not only does this look bad but you it causes many other problems with neck and waist lines. All in all, no matter where you are, consider you outfit from many angles. My big pet peeve is wearing pajamas in front of guys. If naturally draws attention to the a bed. At times this is unavoidable but when you are at retreats or camps take the time to dress before breakfast and do not get ready for bed again before the evening session.


Big surprise guys - you can think about modesty also. Girls may not be visually stimulated like guys but we can still get uncomfortable and distracted when guys dress immodestly. Some tips coming from girls would be: keep your shirt on if possible; if you take a sweat shirt off with a tee shirt underneath do it on the side of a group and make sure both shirts don't come off at once; don't wear pajama pants outside of home; if you have jeans on with gym shorts underneath and want to take the jeans off for playing games, don't do it in the middle of a group; don't wear baggy jeans that won't stay up or jeans that are tight. Just like girls, act in a way that will take the attention off of you and point it towards Christ.

In Closing

Examine your heart, then examine your closet. Make sure your clothing and you actions are God glorifying not attention attracting. Have fun looking cute and blessing your brother and sisters in Christ in the warm summer weather.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What else can girls talk about?

Finals, tests, exams, and more finals pretty much explains my life. Oh, yeah, and helping to plan a banquet for 160 people in between. Because of this writing a blog has become a lower priority in my life but for all my faithful readers (3 of you??) I will try to get back in the swing of things. Until then, you will have to put up with reading this article I found. I read this article from Brio magazine's website (a girls magazine from Focus on the Family) and then found it saved on my computer. When I was in Chicago around New Years with my youth group leadership team for a conference the girls had a long discussion on how we should interact with the guys in our youth group. Are the topics we constantly talk about (weddings, romance, chick flick books, hair, nails, makeup, what qualities we want in our husband, what we want to name our kids, our exacts plans for the future, etc) positive and uplifting to the guy around us? Who should take the initiative in a friendship even if it a brother-sister relationship? What topics are safe to talk about? After we hashed through these topics and many more we went over to the guys to ask their opinion. Because that was 5 1/2 months ago around 1:30 in the morning I don't remember the entire conversation. One general guideline we came up with for when a girl and guy who a just friends or acquaintances is that if you are not comfortable sharing what you are saying with anyone in the group, do not share it with one guy. This will keep you from sharing you heart and dreams which draws people closer together and can wreck you Christian siblingship. So, now with the article, I thought it gave a lot of basic insight and suggestions. I hope this is an encouragement to the girls out there reading my blog.

Eight Secrets About Guys (That Shouldn't Be Secret) by Grace M. Dove
Growing up with four brothers and now having three teenage sons of my own, I've learned a lot about guys. Stuff they won't come right out and say to you is vitally important. It's not that guys are trying to keep secrets, but the issues are sensitive for them. Perhaps more importantly, they're not about to tell girls how they see things because they don't want to hurt their feelings.
My sons and their friends have taught me much without even knowing it. (It's amazing what a mom can learn while guys eat and talk!) Even though they don't freely reveal their feelings, I easily pick up on them, and I'm convinced that girls deserve to know what I now know.
When I recently shared my "inside information" with a group of young ladies in our church, their attention, questions, laughter and gratitude confirmed that guys? secrets need to be revealed! Here are a few of my observations.
1. Guys Appreciate Modesty
This is a biggie. For females, it's tough not to be influenced by advertising when we're deciding what clothes to buy and what makeup to wear. But in most cases, ads don't represent what guys really want. Remember, advertising is meant to convince you to buy products. Tight tops, extra-short skirts and clothes that show too much skin are actually intimidating to many young men and make them uncomfortable.
In a recent survey of teen guys in our youth group, an overwhelming majority stated they wished girls would dress more modestly. Eighty-six percent commented that girls wear tops that are too revealing. Sixty-four percent said that current styles of skirts and shorts are not modest enough. One section of the survey allowed the guys to add any comments they wanted. Because they could remain anonymous, the guys dared to share what they really thought. Here are some of their statements.
• "God has blessed girls with beauty inside and out. It's not necessary for them to reveal their body or portions of it to entice."
• "Put some clothes on!"
• "It's not all about what you wear that we like; it's your heart and personality."
• I wish girls knew that "dressing immodestly is really a stumbling block for guys."
• "Please dress modestly. Some girls wear extremely tight clothes and it actually turns guys off. We want girls to be women of God, not lust magnets!"
• "I wish women would try to attract men with their godly character, integrity and class, not just with their looks."
That's just a little peek into what guys really think. Rarely, if ever, will guys openly offer this information. Yet, isn't it liberating to know that guys actually prefer modesty?
Even though "modesty" is a relative term today, godly guys appreciate girls who put them at ease by wearing looser clothing that covers what doesn't need to be revealed. It is possible to do that and still be fashionable!
2. Keep a Little Mystery
Years ago, the founder of a Bible college gave some advice to a friend of mine. With a twinkle in his eyes, this dignified man of God shared a valuable secret: "Always keep a little mystery about yourself." My sons agree.
Guys by nature are "conquerors" (just look at their interest in football, video games, rock climbing, etc.). What can guys conquer or pursue if girls reveal everything about themselves? I'm referring to how you relate to guys, but it can also apply to how you dress.
It is possible to be too open and too buddy-buddy with guys. There seems to be a fine line between treating them as brothers in the Lord and crossing over into too familiar territory. When a guy knows everything about you, it leaves nothing for him to conquer.
You know what happens when a new girl comes on the scene, don't you? At school, youth group or elsewhere, guys are alert to any new young lady. Her very presence initiates a fresh commotion. Why? She's a mystery!
In our discussion, the girls drilled me about how to actually maintain some mystery. I responded by giving them questions to ask themselves.
• Who initiates most of the conversations I have with a guy?
• Who (other than adults) initiates our activities, the girls or the guys?
• Who's making the phone calls?
• Does he ask questions, or do I volunteer information?
Remember, if you're too available, you've removed the challenge.
3. Don't Mock
Guys of any age don't like being playfully mocked by a group of girls, even if the mocking comes in the form of a compliment: "nice eyes/hair/muscles/etc." Girls tend to tease this way in order to give and receive attention and probably don't mean any harm, but it doesn't go over well when a group of females gangs up on one guy. He may laugh and play along, but inwardly he'll begin distancing himself from those girls. However, genuine compliments and encouragement, either one-on-one or in a group setting, go a long way toward friendship.
4. Not All Guys Are Alike
Guys don't like being compared to other guys. They're not all alike, and they're very uncomfortable with the idea that their masculinity is totally determined by their physique. Do you want your worth measured by your figure? Neither muscles nor curves last forever.
It's tough when guys feel compelled to conform to an image. Cultivate an appreciation for other qualities in guys, and let them know you see and appreciate their uniqueness.
A side benefit to acknowledging special aspects of guys is that it sets you free to enjoy your individuality! Life's more fun when everybody's not trying to fit the same mold.
5. Free or Flee
Guys don't like feeling manipulated, controlled or emotionally cornered by girls. Being conquerors, they naturally withdraw from those situations. My sons know they're not yet ready for relationship commitments, and the more they feel pressured by girls to make them, the more they pull away. In the survey, more than one guy wrote, " . . . Let us go after God."
Set guys free by being at peace with yourself. I know you've heard it before: A guy will never be able to complete you. Only God can do that. Girls who are their own persons, without being rebellious or haughty, challenge guys. Self-assured friendship and kindness work like a magnet. When you're not dependent on guys for your fulfillment, you're actually succeeding in maintaining some of that mystery that's so attractive to them!
6. Guys vs. Girls
Guys don't like competitive "guy vs. girl" contests. It puts them in a lose-lose situation. On one hand, when guys win a contest, they're put in a male chauvinist category. If they lose, it's humiliating and creates an invisible barrier between them and the girls.
Competition locks girls into a no-win situation as well. If the girls win the contest, it forfeits the openness the guys may have felt with them. If they lose, girls usually feel some degree of humiliation, resentment or bitterness. At the least, sarcastic comments begin flying from both sides. (Well, don't they?)
Contests and competitions at camp and youth group can be fun, but if the sides involve guys vs. girls, be bold in suggesting that the teams be mixed.
7. Guys Are "Allergic" To Silliness
Guys enjoy seeing girls have fun, but they don't like being around girls' silliness. What translates as silliness to guys? It usually occurs when girls are in groups whispering, glancing at guys, giggling, shrieking loudly, etc. It?s a big turn-off and sends guys in the opposite direction, sometimes permanently.
Please understand, I'm not saying to quit having "girl fun." I'm saying it's best saved for slumber parties and girls-only settings. Rest assured, guys definitely have their own form of silliness. Do they ever! But it needs to stay among the males. Keep your silliness among yourselves as well. Guys admire girls who conduct themselves with poise in public.
8. Guys Do Notice Homemaking Skills
Believe it or not, in these days of liberation, guys still notice a girl's homemaking skills. In fact, the older my sons and their friends become, the more alert they are to the presence or lack of those skills in their female friends. Can she cook? Administrate? Is she kind to children? How does she handle her money? Does she care about learning?
Homemaking skills (as well as chivalry ? though we're still working on that) seem to be in danger of becoming a lost art. Guys not only notice, they also respect and talk about girls who cook. Believe me. I hear it.
Because they're individuals, not every guy will agree with all eight of these points. I must admit, however, I haven't run into any disagreement yet. When my sons and their friends found out I was working on this topic, they begged to see my notes. In reviewing them, every guy expressed the same reactions: shock, agreement and relief, mixed with a little fear, usually in that order, but always with a big grin.
The shock and agreement came from realizing that a female (and a mom) actually understands and is revealing their secrets accurately. Their relief is about the fact that they didn't have to express these secrets themselves. And the fear is due to the unknown reactions of readers! I hope you'll make it safe for them. I've only shared eight of their secrets and I have to confess, there are more!

Disclaimer: I will say that I am not interested in any guys right now and have decided not to pursue a relationship until I am at a point in life where marriage is an option. These tips will help you to understand where guys are coming from and how to interact with them at school and church.