Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Modesty, Humility, and Submission

About a month ago, in a on-line Friendly discussion group for people interested in plain dress and simplicity, in reply to a discussion about modesty, plainness and hair, I wrote this:

"As for modesty, hmmm...I'm not very modest at all. I'm 46 and have had 3 babies. My body looks like what it is but I'm really happy with it and wear some clothes that show lots of skin. Oddly, about the time I became involved with my plain dressing Quaker man, I also became comfortable wearing dresses and summer tops which showed my cleavage, something I'd never done before. He's fine with it although I'm sure we occasionally discombobulate people."

Writing that and posting it on a public forum has made me really consider what I said and what I meant.

I've never been particularly modest; ok, I've always actually been pretty immodest both in attitude and in dress. I've always had fun with dress and having fun has been more important than being modest. My clothes are flashy and my demeanor has always been pretty flashy, too. But lately, since falling for my sincere, Friendly and God-led Plainman, I've had cause to further examine the ways in which I interact with the world.

From m-w.com:

1: freedom from conceit or vanity
2: propriety in dress, speech, or conduct

1: not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive
2: reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission

Yeah, uh...ahem...not even close.

I've been considering humility and what it means to me. Give over, I think: give over my ego, my self-ishness, my pride, my conceit, the delight I take in my uniqueness but also my gifts, my abilities and my joy; give myself fully over to God. Submit myself to God, allowing myself to be formed by God and used. At the least, it means being aware of how I reflect that of God within me to the world.

I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with wearing a dress and camisole with a little cleavage showing. I don't think of sin as an action so much as a state of being. I've written before how I think sin is whatever we allow to come between us and God. So my wearing clothes that show a lot of skin may have no more meaning than me wearing a coat in winter. On the other hand, given my propensity to have my ego tied up in what I wear and how I choose to present myself in my interactions with others, there's definitely potential for vanity.

I'm slowly beginning to examine my life and my daily choices. I'm not called to plainness but I am feeling that letting go of some of my attachment to how I package myself when I interact with other people is what I should be doing. I don't even think I really need to dress differently than I do, only that I allow dressing to be a prayerful activity rather than a self-ful one.

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Prayer of Gratitude for Community

This was my FirstDay prayer:

Holy One,

I thank you so deeply for my Beloved Community. Thank you for the individuals who are my spiritual family and the relationships I have with each. Thank you for the people I love and hold in the tenderest places of my heart. Thank you for all the new people who bring such interesting selves into my world; I look forward to getting to know each of them. Thank you for the folks who challenge me. Thank you for those people who are not easy to know, to understand or to love. Especially I thank you for the people who frustrate me and cause my initial reaction to be irritation because they are often the people from whom I learn the most (and please open my heart so my interactions are more loving and kind). Thank you for dear Friends whom I know and who know me intimately, listen for your will for me and help guide me. Thank you for new Friends who bring joyful enthusiasm, sincere questions and fresh perspectives with them. Thank you for our babies and children who give us delight and who allow us to more clearly see the future. Thank you for those with great needs who give us the opportunity to unite as a community, so we can learn to rely on one another and work together to offer comfort. Thank you for joyful occasions for celebration: memberships and weddings and babies and parties and times of just getting together for the pleasure of it (and Scrabble).

God, it is through this Beloved Community that I have learned what it means to be the Body of Christ by experiencing how we each have our gifts, callings and functions. In this community I am learning what it means to be humble, to submit, to give over my will and my ego in your service. Most of all, God, I am learning about your love for us and I learn to love you more through the love I am given, the love I feel and the love I'm surprised by and grow into.

Thank you, Loving Parent, for giving me this safe, nurturing, supportive community in which I am able to experience and test and explore so I may learn to follow your will for me. I am filled with gratitude for the love which flows into me and through me so I may share it with others. What you give is great and I ask that you help me be a true reflection of your love for us.

humbly yours,
Mary Linda