Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wondering What to Wear to Church.

When Violet was 4 years old,
I bought her a pair of tap shoes at a  yard sale.

Although she didn't take tap lessons,
she was always dancing around the house,
so I thought she'd enjoy them.

As childhood play can do,
the sashes for them got misplaced.

One Saturday evening,
it was discovered that her church shoes no longer fit her,
so I did the next best thing:
I found some big bright ribbon to match her dress,
yellow and blue,
and laced them into her tap shoes.

After her children's church class that day,
I found a very agitated daughter waiting for me.
She pointed down to her billowing bowed shoes and said,
"I am NEVER wearing these shoes again.
*John laughed at me when I came into class today,
pointed to my shoes and said,
'What in the world do you have on your feet?
Those are the funniest shoes I have ever seen,'
and then all the kids turned and looked at me feet.
And he laughed.

I wanted to hit him in his laughing mouth."

This seemed to me too humorous,
but knowing the sensitivity of my incredibly humbled child,
I squelched it as best I could and replied,

"Well, I think your shoes are beautiful and unique.
Who cares what John says.
He's just a little boy."

"Well, he's a boy that laughed at me in front of the whole class,
and I hate him."

Needless to say,
We continued the discussion on the way home.

John's name comes up occasionally
when we pick out a Sunday outfit,...
 and I jokingly ask her if she thinks John will approve.

I can't believe how she would care
what one boy thinks of her shoes,
especially one so far below a standard of fashion as her mother's.

Growing up I always thought my mother was the most beautiful woman on earth.
People often told her she looked like Elizabeth Taylor.

But not only did she look beautiful,
she acted beautiful.
A more giving, compassionate person I've yet to meet.

My mother only seemed to have a hand-full of dresses
for church on Sunday back then,
but I felt she always looked the best.

I remember when she came into school one day when I was 7
and one of the boys asked me if she was my mother.
When I replied that she was,
he said,
"Wow, you're lucky.
My mom is fat and ugly: she never cares about what she looks like."

That struck me
and stuck with me.

Kids are funny because they are so honest with what they think.
Of course, we have to train them tact
and how sometimes honesty has to be softened,
or even shielded,
by love.

My mother-in-law is another woman I admire.
My husband gets his smile from her:
it lights up a room and her beauty is commanding.
I don't think I have ever seen her not look pretty;
To meet her,
you wouldn't guess that she is the type
to lance goat infections
or tend an orphaned litter of piglets
in her basement.
Instead you would thing she is the type that could
spend hours researching and writing a detailed book of her descendants
for her posterity,
or run a whole committee of women to hold a banquet.
But actually, she's done all of this.
She taught me how to can food,
to make jelly,
to butcher chickens, 
to lose miserably at Scrabble.
Even in a house dress with an apron on,
both my mothers retain beauty;
are wise women,
unafraid to have and express truth,
but always with kindness.
They are the most feminine, busy, proper ladies I know,
but would never make another feel uncomfortable
who is less in these areas.

I often tell Violet how amazing it is 
that she has 2 nearly perfect grandmothers.

"...Man looketh on the outward appearance,
but the LORD looketh on the heart."
I Samuel 16:7b

I have heard friends debating
what a person should wear to church,
often because of this verse.
But I have been debating with myself not just this question
what should my appearance be in my home.

It's easy to be comfortable.
And comfortable isn't wrong.

I recently read a blog about how to manage your closet,
and she said,
"Get rid of everything that doesn't look good on you."
Even if it's comfortable?

I can't tell you how many things I've thrown into the Good Will bag
(and trash bag!)
the last few weeks as I've tried to do just that.
It was incredibly hard to do because I am very fussy
about how clothes feel.
But if I have things that look better
why keep the super-sized fuzzy "tents"
(as my husband so fondly calls them).

Gone are the days of whale bone corsets,
of struggling to tie up tight to look like an hourglass,
the powdered 2 foot tall wigs,
the rustling hoop skirts.

Fashion changes.

One thing doesn't change:
"Man looks on the outward appearance..."

And that part of the verse,
the part that reminds me that my daughters are looking at me,
suddenly makes it more important to myself.
My girls are critiquing why I dress the way I do:
that part drives me to my knees and makes me honestly question.

I have a far way to go.
But recognition is a start, right?

John has no idea of the discussion and impact he has caused
in our household.

Bless his heart,
Could be, one day,
he might be walking "little miss tap shoes" down the aisle...

just don't tell Violet I said so.

*John is not laughing-fellow's real name.
His name has been changed to protect the innocent.


  1. Visiting your blog is such a pleasure. And I am just...charmed.


  2. What a great post! How awesome for you and your daughter to have such good influences in your lives!

  3. This was a great post. The ultimate "lady", my mother, passed away in August at the age of 90. Your words made me think of her. She always jokingly said if you do not have on your earrings, you are "positively undressed". In her last days the nursing home attendants made sure she had on her earrings.

  4. Great post Tonya. I've been struggling with this very topic myself.

  5. Loved this post - you've captured something so important here....I think we've all met or known some of those rare women who exude beauty and grace in an exceptional way. Sounds like you are blessed to have two in your immediate life - and I suspect your daughter can add one more to that number....whether you're wearing a fuzzy tent or not. Now...what shall I wear to church? ;o) Wishing you a blessing-filled day...Smiles & Hugs ~ Robin

  6. A beautiful and thought provoking post.

  7. And here I was thinking how CUTE those shoes were with the big bows and thinking ALL the other girls would want some.

    I suppose John ruined that idea.

    Kids words to each other have a HUGE impact. Many times they have no idea how long their words will affect those to whom they are said.

    Other times, they intend to be cruel.

    I always tried to train my children to have a tender heart toward others.

    But I'm not sure I was very successful.

    Anyway - - - I think Violet's shoes are adorable and I would wear them myself.

    Oh yah - - - that probably doesn't help as I'm "old" and not "with it" any more, if I ever was.

  8. I just love reading your blog. For a young women you have great wisdom. Knowing you Mom you didn't fall far from the tree.

  9. Yes, I always thought your mom looked like Elizabeth Taylor, but not her actions:) Very interesting story. Violet really shares her emotions. That's fun because You really know what is going on inside her head.
    What kids say when we are young about us can really stick with us longer than we want it too, huh?

  10. found this post from the blog hop at homemaker by choice. realizing how my own children view me has been on my heart recently {and is very humbling}. thank you for this beautiful post

  11. my mamma bought me tap shoes at yard sales too - but I never got to wear mine to church!
    great post!

  12. I loved your post, your daughter sure seems cute! And I wish I had tap shoes to wear to church!--but I have to wonder if the real justification for that verse is that we should look "nice" all the time. Yes, man looks at the outward appearance--but does that mean we need to appeal to him? Or that we should bend when other's judge? What if John laughs, should we care if God does not?

    And what of the verses where Jesus says to come as you are, or verses in the epistles about not conforming to this world, but being transformed by God? Isn't meeting fashion standards just that; conforming to this world?
    Yes, your daughters are watching you. I sure watched my mom all the time!
    But remember that they are also watching you pray, watching you love people, and I'm sure watching if you place more important things over the worldly issue of dress.


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