My heart for modesty in the church

Before I was a Christian, I had a pair of blue jean cut off’s that I’d wear with everything. They were my ol’ faithfuls. Does anyone else have a pair of ol’ faithful cut offs? Mine emphasized the “cut off” with even more emphasis on my butt cheeks that would proudly hang out of the bottom. I’d wear them with the expectation that I better be catching a man’s eye. One time, I wore a not so large basketball jersey with some 6 inch stilettos downtown and I definitely caught some nice stares in that outfit. For Halloween one year I was daisy duke, so I pulled out the ol’ faithful booty shorts, cut to pieces an old flannel that probably covered 15% of my top half, and wore some over the knee high heel boots.

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been the girl who didn’t give a crap about modesty. There were times when I would get dressed with hopes that men would want me sexually. I never had any intentions with following through with the message I was sending, but it was a major thrill getting them to look. My body wasn’t sacred, or holy, or precious. I flaunted my body like a toy, as if the more that men would stare, the more desirable I was. Back then, when I was with a guy, I’d think of the most scandalous outfit I could wear so that other men would be envious of him. I viewed my body as a trophy, and I was so happy to know he wanted to show me off, that he was proud to have me. And to be honest, that mentality started at a young age.

Before I dive into the nitty gritty, I want you to know I’ve been on both extremes. I’ve been the girl who threw up in her mouth when she heard the word modesty, and I’ve also been the girl (well still am) who has a love hate relationships with bikini’s. And in this blog, I am writing to women. I am not giving men an “out” in the sin department, I am simply addressing how we, as women of God, are called to react to the topic of modesty in the church. Because I get it, modesty is weird and awkward and obnoxious if you don’t truly understand the freedom it brings. But what I want to do is share my heart and how God has transformed the way I view modesty, because once you understand the beauty in modesty, it’s life giving.

So to make things easy for everyone, I made a list of all things I’ve deemed immodest so that everyone will know how to dress and we will no longer have these problems. Aren’t you glad you have me to guide you through this process?

Only kidding. I’d be eaten alive on social media and never be able to leave the house without being stoned by a flock of angry modesty hating women in blue jean cut off shorts.

What I want to talk about instead? Our hearts and our intentions with the way we present ourselves, not only to the world, but to God. What I hear the most is that it isn’t our fault as beautiful women, that men have impure thoughts. And I would definitely say it’s NOT our fault. We are not in control of their mental process or lack of self control. If we are simply wearing a dress, whether it’s two inches above or below the knee, skin tight or flowy, high neck or v neck, if a man “stumbles” (some of you don’t like this word…) because of our dress, we are not at fault. We did not tell them to have impure thoughts simply because of our dress. Would you agree?

I will say though, we have the power to encourage purity OR impurity based on how we present ourselves.

We are definitely NOT responsible for a man stumbling… however, are we completely innocent if we’re aware of our immodesty, and our lack of self control inspires an impure thought in a mans head? And I get it, what some think is modest is another girls immodest and one girls immodest is another girls modest. But that’s not the point because we could go all day on everyones standard of modesty and get NO TO THE FREAKIN WHERE. So the point is…

You know in your own heart what your intentions are, and if we’re being real, we all struggle with where the bar is on “what’s deemed appropriate.” And so there’s grace for us, and we will constantly be figuring it out because our culture is just hard and yoga pants just really are that comfortable. So this is why we must study our own hearts, and invest like crazy in our relationship with Him because he wants to give us guidance in this awkward journey through modesty.

But here’s the question I want us to think about, because this could change your entire perspective: As women who know and love the Lord and His children, do you think we are responsible for encouraging our men to think purely based on the way we are presenting our bodies and selves? Shouldn’t we interact and dress in a way that makes it harder for them to lust? Shouldn’t  we care for the mental health and purity of their minds and hearts, especially those we may be dating or engaged to?

“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” -Romans 14:19

“Therefore, let us not pass judgement on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” -Romans 14:13

Based on scripture, I want to examine what we, as women of God who seek Godliness, are called to be:

  • adorning themselves in respectable apparel with modesty and self control – 1 Timothy 2:9
  • reverent in behavior, not slaves to much wine, pure, kind, and submissive to their husbands – Titus 2:3 (it also says working at home, which can be taken out of context easily, but so can submit… thats an entirely different blog topic)
  • presented holy and blameless, above reproach – Colossians 1:22
  • strong and dignified – Proverbs 31:25
  • far more precious than jewels – Proverbs 31:10
  • she does good to her husband rather than harm – Proverbs 31:12
  • she fears the Lord and is to be praised – Proverbs 31:30
  • unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, tender heart, and a humble mind – 1 Peter 3:8
  • gracious, the crown of her husband – Proverbs 12:4 & 11:16
  • she walks by the spirit and not by the flesh – Galatians 5:16
  • servant hearted – 1 Samuel 12:24

“Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.” -1 Samuel 12:24

What’s so important, and can be missed entirely, is that modesty is not solely about the clothes you wear or the way you interact with others. Modesty is a matter of the heart, and it all comes down to how we view our bodies and the importance behind our actions and intentions. I’m also not saying I’m an expert in this department, because my outfit at church Sunday was probably questionable to some. #iloveleggings

I need God to show me what true Godliness looks like in todays culture and in women like us, who truly just desire to honor God in our day to day lives. I need God to hold my hand and convict me when I’m wearing something in vain simply because I want attention. I need the Holy Spirit to help me discern my outfits because I genuinely want my attire to honor Him, and honor the men around me, especially my husband.

My heart for this one very specific aspect of modesty is this: As women who love and know the Lord, we must encourage purity in a mans heart in everything we do. Because no matter who you think is to blame, we are responsible for building one another up in righteousness.  This includes protecting their minds from darkness with the way we present ourselves through dress, our intentions, and our actions.

“That together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” -Romans 15:6

“Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

A strong woman of God is loving, kind, and tenderhearted in her walk, and cares deeply for the body of Christ. Her mission in life is to strive for purity, for Christ-likeness, and protecting the body of Christ from any defilement. She seeks humility and holiness in her dress and actions, and never takes it lightly when a brother or sister is struggling with darkness or impurity. A strong Godly woman strives to build up strong Godly men who seek righteousness and who fight the good fight. Are we doing that?

By ceasing to take responsibility for the health and purity of the body of Christ, we are falling away entirely from the JOY God has called us to live in as ONE family.

“Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Philippians 2:2

And so here’s the nugget I want to end with.

He is so loving towards us, for no apparent reason, so why can’t we love one another in the way we dress and present ourselves? By caring for the purity of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are striving to encourage unity and harmony among the body of Christ. We must strive for unity, being of the same mind, the same body, and surrendering to the same love that called us out of darkness and into light.

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I’m aware that this is just one aspect of modesty, and that there are thousands of opinions. I definitely want to pray about writing a second blog if more opinions and concerns come up! Thank you so much for reading!

 

Sincerely,

Catie Sas

 

 

 

 

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My first year as a teacher wasn’t at all about teaching

img_8130-2School is out. It’s been 2 weeks since I’ve had to wakeup at 6am. It’s been exactly 18 days since I’ve had to wear real clothes, create a lesson plan, give instructions, (try to) discipline a child, or sit at a desk and do my best to look professional.

The last day of school, or more like the last WEEK of school, I wasn’t there. Are you following me? My body was there, but in my mind, I was laying in bed drinking coffee and scrolling through Instagram. The finish line was so close, and my momentum had crashed so hard I was practically limping across it. My first year of teaching was one of the hardest seasons of my life. I’m not kidding.. No one ever told me teaching was so hard. God grew me during this chapter of my life like nothing else ever has before. There were moments I cried after class because my emotions were being pulled every which way and I didn’t know how to process anything. There were times I had to control the kindergarteners sprinting around my class room while simultaneously catering to the little boy who felt compelled to pee his pants, while constantly having to answer the question, “Miss Warrick, why did you wear your pajamas to school?” Because life is hard. It’s just hard, okay?

My “I’m your teacher, no I can’t talk to you about my Instagram account” authoritative position was a challenging experience with my 6th graders, and having to remind them daily that being the ‘cool kid’ really isn’t that cool. I was also told that I’m not allowed to say the word “rachet” because I’m “old and it sounds weird..” Who knew?

One day, almost on the brink of tears, I went to our Assistant Principal to simply ask a question, which then led to venting because my feelings don’t know how to stay on the inside of my body. After sharing my frustrations and how exhausted I was and how I just felt like a failure and I had no idea what to do anymore, she asks, “Is this your first year teaching?”  I took a breathe and a very insecure yes came out of my mouth. The thought of being fired suddenly became a possible reality and I was certain, I mean certain, they’d pull the plug on me.

She smiles and says, “This is completely normal. You’re not a failure, you’re okay. Just keep going, and you’ll find your rhythm along the way.” I was floored. I was sure after word vomitting all of that, she’d send me home and let me know I wasn’t equipped for this job based on my lack of emotional stability. God definitely knew what I needed in that moment. She was right. I was going to be okay.

When I first jumped on board, I wasn’t prepared for what He had planned, but somehow, he took my hand and walked me through it. Even if at times he had to pick me up off the floor and tell me to stop whining, my fingers stayed intertwined with his.

And as I reflect on what my first year of teaching truly looked like, it really wasn’t about teaching. I did do that, just in case administration reads this, ( I promise I taught Art..) I discovered that my career as an Art Teacher really isn’t about teaching. This job isn’t primarily about TEKS or lesson plans or even learning.

It’s about loving kids.

It’s about showing kids the grace upon grace upon grace that God freely provides for us. It’s about how crucial it is to love first, then teach. It’s about how a student must learn to love through your teaching.

The art of loving a child is to teach the child, and the art of teaching a child is to love the child.

Each month, I had my 6th graders write me a letter. I gave them different prompts that would encourage them to reflect on who they are and how the world affects them. The first month though, I asked them to write an autobiography. “Tell me everything I need to know about you. If I don’t know you, how can I teach you?” The next day, I handed them my own autobiography, along with my vision for the class as a whole. I wanted them to know they weren’t just another class I had, that I genuinely wanted to hear their stories and how their minds worked.

At the end of the year, I organized their letters, put them in folders, and wrote them a goodbye letter. I wanted them to have something that was closer to my heart than good grades and behavioral capabilities. I wanted them to know I cherished their efforts and patience with me. I wanted them to remember how much I truly cared about each facet of their dreams and passions. Most of all, I wanted them to know I loved them.

My main goal was to translate how much I truly cared for them through my teaching, whether that was explaining to them the color wheel or just holding them while they let a good cry out. One day, I let stress get to me and I took it out on them, then had to apologize the next day. Trust me, apologizing to a group of 11 year olds is a very humbling experience.

But I did it. Because I’m human and I have emotions and sometimes I make mistakes.

I know I’m not a professional, I am very very far from that. 

But the biggest lesson I learned from my first year of teaching was this-

Most kids, maybe not all, but most, will need to feel accepted before they ever begin to listen to a word you say. They need to feel known, to be understood, to realize you care, before they accept any sort of instruction you have to offer. You could be the most educated and qualified individual on the face of this earth, but if they feel even the slightest sense of doubt from you, they’ll shut down. Some see this as a challenge and they work even harder, but some don’t. Some kids see this as a pointless endeavor where loss and disappointment meet them at the end. Or even worse, some kids see this as a sign that you don’t believe in them. This is why kids fail classes. It isn’t because they’re dumb or careless. They must know you believe in them, or they won’t try. At all. They aren’t motivated by you. You don’t care about them, so why should they care about you or anything else for that matter?

You have to show them God’s love. We have to show them how precious they are, how cherished they are, and how truly known they are by the creator of the universe. We have to. No matter how hard they are. Because you know what? We’re hard too. And listen, I know it’s stressful and you already have tons of papers to grade, you have a life. I get it. I’m right there with ya sister. But the 2nd greatest commandment after Loving God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, is to love others as you love yourself.

I discovered the true meaning of teaching isn’t about teaching at all, it’s about loving each and every child we meet because God first loved us. It’s about forgiveness, redemption, and the hope in Christ we so desperately want each of our students to have. It’s being aware of how your words and actions are going to affect a childs view of God’s character. It’s about instilling confidence and joy in your students, and letting their lights shine bright.

It’s knowing that each moment you have with a student holds purpose, and God will use that moment.

That’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it.

Thank you,

Catie, the rookie (in desperate need of God’s grace) Art Teacher