Strength And Honor Are Her Clothing

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I spent this weekend cleaning. My kitchen is on its way to livable (sorry, Dad) and I can almost see the floor of my bedroom! This really isn’t that important, but some fun lessons were learned!

Before I continue, I’d like for this moment to be recorded in history: as of today, every item of clothing I own is clean, folded or on a hanger, and resting wrinkle free in its proper place. I can’t remember the last time this happened, or if it has ever happened.

Okay, so for the story: I’m preparing myself to go through the temple. While I know very little about the temple, I am trying to learn as much as I can so that in February I am not smacked in the face with a change I can’t handle. Since March, I have been thinking a lot about the temple and, for me, it’s been interesting how my feelings have evolved from a place of fear and unhappiness to place of peace and excitement. Mostly peace, though, and for that I am happy. I’ve never felt this way before, but I’m comfortable standing in this place of not knowing/still learning.

So I still work on preparing. I study the temple in the scriptures. I ask friends questions. I read books like this. I read everything I can get my hands on (for the record, I’ve read all of the Temple Prep manuals for teachers and students on LDS.org). While I don’t know what I need to be focusing on or what I need to do between now and then, I feel like I have to prepare somehow.

This weekend, I focused on clothing. I know that after I go through the temple, I will wear garments. I know that my wardrobe will likely adjust accordingly. So this weekend, I spent some time with my clothes. I washed and folded everything I own (ugh, 10 loads of laundry. I’m ashamed), and put everything in piles on the floor in my living room. It was both impressive and heartbreaking to see my clothes laid out like the display tables at Old Navy. I just have so many clothes. 

At one point this afternoon, surrounded by piles of clothes that needed folding, I briefly considered a world in which I gave away all of my clothes and only owned one church/work dress, one outfit for working out and playing, and one daily/casual outfit. And then I cringed at the thought of giving up all of those fun colors and patterns. And then I cringed at the realization that I have such an obnoxious relationship with my wardrobe. For more reasons than just preparing for the temple, I needed to purge my wardrobe. I just don’t need this much stuff.

Marie came over this evening to go through my disgustingly huge wardrobe to help me downsize. My short skirts, strapless sundresses, and party outfits got the boot. Even with at least 5 women’s worth of clothing laid out in front of me, I still whined with each item of clothing I put in the “donate” pile. It pained me to part with my favorite party dress, but it pained me even more that I kept having that reaction to stuff. I had to say out loud, “These are just clothes. They do not define who I am.” I’m a little disappointed that I had to actually remind myself of that instead of already knowing.

Before today, I never thought this applied to me (Matthew 19):

21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

LadyMo has an idol, and her idol has cute clothes and great shoes and both in large quantities. I’m one of those people.

After Marie left, I realized that purging my wardrobe to prepare for the temple had nothing to do with changing my clothes. Purging my wardrobe to prepare for the temple had everything to do with changing my attitude and redirecting my priorities away from the material and towards the eternal. When I set out on my wardrobe adventure, I was not anticipating any spiritual awakening or lessons of consequence. I admit, my intentions were focused more on the “looking like” and “acting like” a Mormon and not on actually living my faith. Little did I know that when I set out to prepare to enter the temple, I would be preparing to enter the temple. 

In my scriptures, I highlighted Proverbs 31:25-26 and wrote “Emilee and Alix” in the margins. Emilee and Alix are Natalie’s daughters and are mighty wonderful examples of young women who live their faith. I show them the same verse every Sunday during sacrament meeting because when I think of strength and honor, wisdom and kindness, I think of them.

As I was packing up my “donation” pile and putting the “keepers” in my dresser and closet, the verse popped in my head:

25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

I realized that Heavenly Father used this laundry project to teach me something. My attitude and practice has to change. I am easily distracted by the golden cow of materialism and I am wasting too much time and money feeding it and keeping it nice and fat.

I still have a lot to learn before I go through the temple, but I did learn something very important about wardrobe modesty this evening: modesty is less about wearing clothing that properly covers garments and more about making sure that clothes I wear will cover my body in strength and honor.

Heavenly Father – 1. LadyMo – 0.

Readers, I want to hear from you. What are your golden cows and how much room are they taking up in your living room?

Moo,

The LadyMo

ps – Marie, thank you for sitting through such a mundane task of sorting through my clothes!

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10 responses »

  1. Okay explain this to me, please? I thought Mormons wore pretty much what they wanted. Do you have to wear a certain style of clothing or just dress modest? Why does it change after going into the Temple and if so why? Do you have to dress a certain way to go into the Temple? Just curious questions you know how it is?:>)

    Do not know exactly what is going to happen with you in February, but good luck with it all. I am sure you will be able to face any change coming your way.

    As for as my “golden cow” I can honestly say I do not have any, as I do not like clutter and mess. So I pretty much keep it at a minimum. I guess if I did have one it would be books, but now I have a Nook and they are all going to the library. I do like shoes though, but all the one’s that I have I wear, so they are not sitting in shoe boxes everywhere. Shoes and books I guess:>) Good post and good luck. God Bless, SR

  2. @SR- mormons are “allowed” to wear whatever they want. We can make our own choices on any subject. Modesty is ALWAYS encouraged and our definition of modesty is a bit more conservative than the rest of the world. We can wear any style of clothes and we should use our own judgement about whether they are in accordance to what the scriptures teach. If you want specifics…we don’t encourage spagetti straps, tank tops, short shorts or skirts, or low cut tops unless you wear a cami under it. Preferrably the shorts or skirts will reach the knee and shirts should have sleeves. If these standards are followed, there won’t be any changes needed when going to the temple. The reason LadyMo was talking about going to the temple and modesty is because she is a convert and has and wears these clothes. There is no judgment upon her if she wears these things, and I have to say that I have never seen her wear anything immodest since I’ve known her. She is an extremely virtuous woman. If an LDS person decides he/she wants to live a higher law within the gospel, then the temple is extended to them and encouraged. I should say it’s encouraged for everyone, but many choose to stay where they are in the gospel until they make a decision to go further. There is no one who is watching them and pushing them. The temple is life changing, not changing where others who see us will see any difference, but on the inside. The garmet she is talking about will need to be covered, thus the need for shirts with sleeves etc. Believe me, she won’t want to wear spagetti straps with those on, and it’s her choice, again, if she chooses to wear these garmets. When we enter the temple, we can wear anything we want, as long as it is respectful to God and others. Usually, people wear Sunday dresses, blouse and skirt, etc. and the men a shirt and tie, or a suit. Nothing is forced in Gods religion before or after the temple. But my two cents……If you’re going to go through all the preparation and you go through the temple, it would kinda be a waste not to live by a temple worthy standard afterward. I understand that some won’t because maybe they didn’t love thier experience….I don’t know…..but modesty is always a choice, and the best choice for many reasons other than the temple as I see it. I too had to go through my wardrobe, by the way, and I was a member all my life. I chose to dress immodestly most of my life before I entered the temple. There were very few clothes left after I was done. I personally know and feel the reasons why modesty is a good choice because I chose to live immodestly and I saw the difference. I made many other wrong choices I learned from. I am thankful everyday that I was able to choose any choice I wanted good or bad, but I realized it was up to me then, to learn from others mistakes or to learn from my own. Learning from my own was certainly harder. Anyway, now I’m babbling. Hope I answered some of your questions.

  3. Natalie, Thank you so much for answering my questions. I was just curious and I like to learn things. You answered my questions very well and with an explanation I could understand. Again I thank you and I am sure theladymo, will handle everything well.

    Yes, I am a believer in modesty myself. You are correct in saying “there is a difference.”

    Again thank you and God Bless, SR

  4. OK, time for me to chime in here… Hold ‘yer britches, here it comes…

    LadyMo and I talked about this for quite some time this weekend and SR – I have to agree with you and your confusion on this topic. I’m still a bit baffled… I understand the approach to dressing modestly, however that (in my opinion) is subject to each individual. Example is a person living in a nudist colony would think one was dressed modestly if they were to wear something to cover their lower regions (yes an extreme example – but still valid). I fully understand, encourage and have raised my children with the need and values to dress “appropriately” in all situations. But here is what I find confusing:
    LadyMo, you consider yourself a “Feminist Mormon” – why would you let a group or person tell you what is appropriate attire? You know how to dress appropriately (even if you are the first to put on your flip flops in a blizzard). Why would you let some other person (be it man, woman or group) tell you that your attire is not modest enough. You know and do dress appropriately – for all occasions.
    Natalie, I appreciate your response to SR and understand where both you and LadyMo are coming from. What I don’t understand is why certain articles of clothing would be deemed not modest enough. What’s next a black Vail to be worn by all women so they don’t show their faces in public, all because someone thinks that women is not modest enough if they show their face to people that are not their husband?

    Confused and willing to agree to disagree…
    PaDukes

  5. OH and one more thing…

    “21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”

    What do you do each and every Christmas season?

  6. I think the root of this confusion is where/who the modesty guidelines come from. You are right, PaDukes. If some one person, man, woman, or group, tried to tell LadyMo what to wear, she would of course not do it. She is much too strong to let somebody else define her. The difference here is that, as Mormons, we believe that God is directing the church through His servants, the prophet and apostles. So when “the church” gives guidelines, like modesty, we know it is coming directly from God. If, on the other hand, we went to church one Sunday and somebody stood at the pulpit giving a talk about modesty and said that we can only wear red shoes and black dresses, everybody would question what authority they had to say that. If it comes from the first presidency, on the other hand, we know it is of God.
    Of course, we all are entitled to personal revelation and are encouraged to pray about things we aren’t clear on, even if from the first presidency. That is how we know what we are doing is right. The Holy Ghost will bear witness to us what is right.
    I don’t know if I am making any sense to you or not… 🙂
    I guess my point is that because these guidelines come from God, it is much easier to live by them. If they came from somebody just because, nobody would follow them.

  7. Marie and Natalie, thanks for coming to bat on this one for me. PaDukes and SR, I have to admit that I am still so young in my faith that I don’t have much to offer on the “why” question. My experiences in reading, in praying, and in faith have taught me that the temple is a safe place for me. My experiences are few, but they have been peaceful. I can’t answer the “why” question yet, but the point of the post wasn’t about the actual practice of dressing modestly. The main lesson I learned from going through my clothes was that I have too many. I have too much stuff in general (moving five times in three years also reminds me of this fact). I realized how much joy I find in having stuff. And I realized that “stuff” is all it was.

    PaDukes, you’ve always taught me to be grateful for the things I have and to not want for things I don’t have. This was a reminder of that. I need to learn to stop wanting more “stuff” and collecting more “stuff,” because the life I want to live, and the life you’ve taught me to live, is far more important than what kind and how much “stuff” I have. You’ve been teaching me my whole life, and I’m grateful I could finally arrive to this lesson.

    As far as what I do every Christmas… what are you talking about? Love you oodles 🙂

    Love,
    Raelie

  8. K, done holdin my britches…..hehehe. This is gonna be long, so hold onto yours. Obviously the problem lies here, that we don’t agree that there should be a standard of modesty for a whole group of people. We will absolutely have to agree to disagree and I don’t mind that at all. I’m going to respond in parts. I didn’t follow the nudist colony comment….but I will assume that you were saying the colony would still consider it modest to cover that region? I don’t know, maybe I’m reading it wrong, but this is what I personally think about that :(gospel according to Natalie, I don’t know what the church thinks on this) People in a nudist colony are nudist because of what they believe. I don’t know if it’s a religion, but they are honoring the beauty of the creation of God. I don’t have to agree with them on thier modesty standard because I’m not a nudist. I do see the beauty of the way they are thinking and admire thier ability to be real and all out there. I assume there aren’t as many fake people there as there are out here. I think they are right based on what they believe and they are following thier own standard of modesty. I will not follow that guideline because I am LDS and thier standard is not mine, and in my own opinion, it would be wrong for me because I know better based on what I believe to be true. I don’t judge them, I would still be thier friend because I don’t choose friends based on religion or beliefs, but I choose not to be a nudist, I choose to be a mormon.

    Next, LadyMo dresses beautifully in my eyes. I have never looked at her and thought she was dressed immodestly. Like I said, she is a virtuous woman. What a stellar example of goodness and wonderfulness she is. We would all do well to follow a lot of her examples she sets. Moving on here, LadyMo has her own mind. She frustrates me sometimes. I can’t make her think or feel anything, especially if she doesn’t agree. I don’t like her out at night alone, she doesn’t agree. She does it anyway. I don’t love her driving across this country alone, she doesn’t care what I think. She is VERY STUBBORN. I asked her to go slower in the gospel, and she only evidently is capable of one speed….FAST and FURIOUS. Thinking that any person or groups of people can make her DO or think anything makes me giggle, and if you meet that group, I ‘d like to know thier secret.

    I would like to touch on the fact that LadyMo wears wears flip flops in a blizzard. I hope that’s not true and that would be another situation where I would ask her to wear her “real” shoes and she would say “No, I’m comfortable this way, and it’s only through the driveway”. At this point I shake my head in wonder. Seriously, this is what we do. Anyway, using that analogy, I would say that any logical person would believe it is appropriate to wear shoes that will protect your feet and keep your body warm in the snow. Most would say it’s innapproriate to wear flip flops, and risky at that. Even so, we all get to choose what we will be wearing, appropriate or not. If she want’s to wear flip flops, she will. Even so, there are consequences to wearing flip flops in the snow. By making that choice, which she is free to make, she will most likely end up with cold feet at the least. This is a risky choice in my opinion. I believe it would be better to wear the appropriate clothes in the first place and avoid any risks. Being modest is a choice, and like Marie said, it is asked of us by God, in our religion. It is a modesty standard, and you don’t have to adhere to it, but there are unforseen consequences, you may not like. (I’m not going to go into those, that would be tooooo long) We all adhere to dress standards in our society. It is appropriate to wear a shirt and tie to a job interview. You can wear whatever you want, the choice is yours, but generally it is hightly recommended that if you want to walk out with the job, you need to wear a shirt and tie. If not, you take the risk of not getting it. If you go to a black tie event, like the symphony, you would be expected to wear a Tux. No ones is going to make you, but the consequence of stares and judgements may get interesting. Even some restraunts and clubs won’t allow you to even walk in unless you are adhereing to thier dress standard. If you don’t like the standard, don’t eat there. If you don’t like the dress code at the job, don’t apply for it. If you don’t like the dress standard for the symphony, don’t go. If you don’t want to adhere to the modesty standards in the LDS religion, nobody will hold you under the water for a baptism. We welcome all to come to church, but every choice is yours and you may not feel comfortable in your short skirt and spagetti straps at an LDS event because you may be the only one dressed like that. Whatever, I’ll still be your friend and talk to you.

    Lastly, we are LDS, and most people associate us with the fundamentalist mormon groups who wear homemade long dresses with long sleeves and high collars who have sister wives. THIS IS NOT OUR RELIGION. They are called mormons a lot and this is why we use our LDS name. They are FLDS. As for viels on the face……..I have had many many friends who wear viels on the face and have questioned them. I have asked them if they would still wear the viel even if they were told they didn’t have to. They believe that it is a modesty standard for them and they stand firmly in thier faith which is soooo admirable to me. I won’t be wearing it, but I also am not muslim. I do feel sad for those who are only wearing coverings on thier body because they are scared about what will happen if they don’t. This is a political and cultural issue in that region and religion and I hope someday that they will be able to choose what they want to follow. BUT, those that live here, those I know, tell me they would still have the same standards even if thier husband let them lift thier viels or thier fathers let them remove it. This is the religion they LOVE and who am i to knock that?

    Women in our religion are not the only ones with modesty standards. Our men have them also, so it’s not a feminist thing. Our men should not take off thier shirts to mow the lawn, or wash the car. they also have a hard time finding clothes after going through the temple. Thier shorts also go to the knee, and they also have to wear sleeves.

    We all have different beliefs and that’s why there are so many people in so many religions. I am just grateful I live in a country where I can choose which religion I want to be and how I want to live that religion. Sorry so long.

    P.S. Our religion has always had this modesty standard and it will not move into veils over the face etc.

  9. I think the message that was received from my initial response may not have been as intended, My comments come from a place of not understanding the hierarchy of the Mormon religion and there is much I still am learning. But when I hear that only certain people are allowed in Temple and that once you go into this sanctuary you become a changed person (granted that may be on a spiritual level), i get a little skeptical and this is due to my lack of understanding. Understandably the level of understanding for a person whom is not Mormon truly differs from someone who is.

    With regards to people “choosing” to wear garments that is faith based I have no problem with people “choosing” to do so. And I’m glad that has been clarified. However there are some regions, cultures and religions where there is no choice. Being in this country we have choices and like Nat, I am grateful that we can make these choices for ourselves.
    There are a couple of passages in the Bible that come to mind with a person attire

    “Timothy 2:9 Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with
    modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, ”

    “Peter 3:3-4 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of
    gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the
    heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very
    precious. ”

    Here the only hint I see for what is defined as modest attire is no need to wear braids or style your hair and do not wear any jewelry, “respectable apparel with modesty and self control” is not defined by covering ones shoulders and not wearing a strapless dress.

    I do have a few questions for anyone that would like to respond… Marie mentions “prophet and apostles” and (to paraphrase) they are being told to spread His word and they receive His word directly from Him. 1: Would these people be equal to a priest or a bishop or the pope? 2: These people, are they only men as in the Catholic religion women are not allowed to be a priest? 3: Does God only communicate to the prophet and apostles and they relay His message on to people who are not (for lack of a better word) ordained?

    Now for the flip flops.. – Nat, the lunch person at LadyMo’s college would pull me aside every time I visited to discuss her footwear…

    and LadyMo – every year at Christmas time we would go through the clothing and toys/games that you outgrew and had lost interested in and we would donate them to a local church for others to enjoy.

    Thanks Nat and Marie for some of these clarifications and its nice to know that LadyMo has friends that are as equally strong willed!! I look forward to meeting you someday.

  10. Quick answer about what a prophet is equivalent to in the Catholic church: the pope. But I would refer you to mormon.org for more in-depth answers to what we believe a prophet is and what authority he has. Same with apostles. There are 12 apostles today, just as there were when Christ was on the Earth.

    Question #2: yes, only men hold the priesthood

    Question #3: yes and no. The prophet receives revelation for the whole church. But we also believe that anyone and everyone can and should receive personal revelation for themselves. “ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you” is a relevant scripture for that. Another one is Moroni 10:4 (in the Book of Mormon)

    4 “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”

    I hope that answered your questions.

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