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Peace Seeker: Contemplating Rules

I should be packing or cleaning, but inspiration struck for this post, so here I am… blogging.

My husband’s family is very conservative and we leave this week for a family wedding. Which has brought up this entire thought process of. . . .

WHAT DO I WEAR?

Insert all the negative body image issues.

Insert all the frustration when I realized the color choice.

Double that frustration when I could not find said color choice as an option ANYWHERE.

So here we are. The week of the wedding and my outfit really isn’t going to be matchy-matchy with the other Martin wives.

Plus side, I will be dressed. So …

As I drove today, I was thinking over my recent panic/anxiety attack about this wedding. Part of it is dread. Everyone will know She’s the one who just lost a baby! and say all manner of things. Part of it is a few years ago, a sister in law confronted me on my attire and stated because of my wardrobe choices, I am surely going to hell. Except she left out the “surely” part and ended with, I will keep praying for you.

Awesome. Thank you.

I know my wardrobe causes questions for people from my (and my husband’s) conservative backgrounds. Jeans aren’t modest!

*sigh*

The command is to dress modestly.

Did you know modest is also used to describe one’s demeanor? Um, for example it isn’t used to describe me when I am very happy and forgetting to be aware of the volume of my voice or mindful of the words I am speaking. I am competitive, prone to fit in with guys and comparing vehicles and abilities versus dress material and new recipes.

Many conservative churches have rules defining modesty for their individual churches.

And those boundaries and guidelines come from what? That was the thought I have been pondering. Why do some churches demand a cape? Others an apron? Why do some churches require no print, others the print must be smaller than a quarter? Certain color dresses shall not be worn, yet other churches allow the forbidden harlot’s color?

Boundaries are often established to prevent hurt, pain. Boundaries and guidelines are often in place, I believe, to guide those who would be a fence walker.

The bishop at my old church described fence walkers one time. Some travel near to the fence, the guideline every now and then, some walk right by the fence, and others tip toes right on top, often falling to the other side of the fence.

*GASP*

Who would EVER be one of those? Destined to fall to the other side, FOR SURE!!

Me. 

I mentioned in my Child Abuse Awareness post about not being a lover of authority. That was part of my problem. And for someone like me, rules are a good thing. I mean, a posted speed limit of 25 usually keeps me from doing more than 50. Usually. I believe rules are good for everyone.

But rules like that, rules that make it sound like if you don’t follow them you will fall into the abyss that is surely death, that’s wrong.

I cannot explain all the reasons for these rules, nor will I debate or trash the churches that practice and teach these beliefs. For many people, it was recently told to me, it is a salvation issue.

And I can see that.

I am saved. I did not leave the Mennonite church just because I wanted my way. And yes, my husband knows I wear pants.

All answers I have had to give.

It hurts to step into these church situations, to be judged and cut down before I have ever even opened my mouth to say “Hello” and smile.

It hurts.

And if I am being 100% honest, I don’t want to be nice.

I would like to judge them, be snarky, and leave them feeling less than.

But that proves their point.

So I made a few amendments to my wardrobe, and attitude. I will wear a skirt, as I always do. But it’s comfortable for me. Comfort means I am less likely to speak rashly, even to the negative ones. Not a too long maxi skirt that we all know I will trip over. I will wear dressy boots. (Can I get a HALLELUJAH!) My nails are actually done. I had a gift card two weeks ago and I decided to just get a refill. My hair will be up and not too fancy, and not showing. I will wear a sweater, because just last week, Wisconsin had like 18 inches of snow. (Can I get an eyeroll here?) No jewelry, and I am barely myself at these shindigs for so many reasons.

I will plan to have fun. I am doing my best to face this event with positivity, because it matters deeply to my husband. And he matters in a big way to me. And I am a representative of Jesus, even in settings where it may seem like I am not.

There are rules everywhere.

Speed limits. If I’m being honest, I have a tough time with those.

Even where we live, there are rules about animal noise, building permits required, burning, property maintenance…

There are rules about emissions, inspections, mufflers, headlights …

Rules are not created as a bad thing. I mean, God even has specific rules in the Bible.

Do not murder. Honor your father and your mother. Do not lie. Do not steal. Do not covet.

You get the idea.

And because people, like me, needed guidelines.

It was a good realization. Because sometimes I get lost in judging them for minor things that being told how big the flowers on their dresses can be. We are human. We are all sinners. We are all serving and loving the same God. And I don’t need to work to earn their approval or change who I am, because by grace, through faith I am saved.

And while I have sin areas that glare me in the face every single day, this is not a burden I need bear. Jesus died for their sins, just as He died for mine. If I am following His commands, if I am respectful and loving them as I love myself and not causing any brothers or sisters to stumble, if I have peace before God and my husband, He will take care of any and everything else.

I told the one who told me I was going to hell:

I don’t answer to my bishop about the clothing I wear. I answer to God and my husband. And for me, that’s a bigger responsibility. I want my husband’s approval. I want God’s peace. I want to please God and bring Him honor and glory, even if it’s clothing. I want to serve Him, keep Him first in my life. 

And I think that goes for attending these weddings and being around our families and wearing skirts. Not because I feel guilty. But because if it causes another to stumble by causing a fight, it’s my job as a Christian to do my best to honor and respect.

Anyway, it is high time I close this rambling post. The last minute things must still be done.

I will try to post next week, possibly photos and tidbits about the culture shock we have out there. Also the fun and memories we are blessed to make.

Love, Rachelle 

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