Someone Else’s Law

A few years ago, Bethany, then about seven, asked me at the dinner table, “Mommy, do you think I’m not a very good person because I wear jeans and shorts?” I had absolutely no idea how to answer her question but I knew I needed to say something. She was distraught. Obviously, she’d  been thinking about the modesty issue even though at the time she didn’t even know the meaning of the word. After asking her some questions, it became clear that she’d been told by a friend that girls should  not wear pants or show their legs past a certain point because it wasn’t ladylike.

Bethany is a rule follower. She keeps us all on track and she didn’t want herself, her mother or sisters breaking any dress codes! She questioned our family’s standard of modesty that night which resulted in a very thought-provoking conversation with the children. How thankful I was for my husband’s perspective. He said, “Bethany, *Susie’s daddy likes the little girls in his family to wear dresses, and that is fine. There is nothing wrong with dresses. However, wearing a dress doesn’t make you a better Christian. That is *Mr. Smith’s rule for his daughters. It is not my rule for mine. I promise, if you ever wear anything that I find inappropriate, I will tell you. Trust me. I want you to be a lady, and you are!”

“What if she asks me why I still wear jeans?” Bethany inquired. “You just smile and tell her that our family doesn’t have that rule,” Daniel replied.

“Should I wear a dress when I’m around her just so she doesn’t feel bad?” Bethany continued. “You may wear a dress anytime you wish, but don’t pretend you follow her family’s rules,” answered Daniel.

“What if she doesn’t want to be my friend anymore?” was Bethany’s last question. “Honey, that would be her loss.  Love her and I’m sure she will love you too. If she isn’t kind because you don’t have the same rules as she, there is nothing you can or should do.”

Relief swept over Bethany’s sweet little face. She left the table that night, happy that she could hang upside down on our monkey bars in her jeans!

Recently, I listened to Sally Clarkson, one of my favorite authors and speakers, talk to writers. She said, “Why would you allow someone else’s law to put you under guilt? Jesus felt compassion for the multitudes. Compassion is better than passion.” She went on to challenge writers not to “put women under the pile of legalism.”

Can I just say “A-men?”

The story of Bethany and her seven-year-old modesty dilemma immediately came to mind. Females start early looking around to see what the “rules” are. Little girls who look to their friends for life’s rules grow up to be women who look to other families or authors or speakers. We are prone to taking notes on how others “do life.”

She homeschools. Should I?

He says I should always spank for that offense. Should I?

I wonder if I should let my baby “cry it out.” This family says it’s the only way to get any rest.

She doesn’t wear make-up and has beautiful long hair. Am I too worldly because I won’t go in public without lipstick and I keep my hair short?

She is having such good results with her Classical education curriculum. I ought to be more structured too.

She doesn’t use the church nursery. Maybe I shouldn’t either.

Their family doesn’t do sports. Am I too worldly because I love them?

Their family doesn’t watch any tv. Maybe we shouldn’t either.

She bakes her own bread and cooks everything from scratch. What is wrong with me?

Will my girls go to college? This family says “no way!”

… And the list could go on forever.

Ladies, take it to your father. Very often, the Lord uses others to teach us. I’ve learned to cook, sew, make bread and I’ve been challenged in my parenting and walk with the Lord by dear friends who do things differently than I. However, I’ve also been presented with many ideas that just weren’t for our family. There have been times when, like Bethany, I wondered if I was wrong. I felt insecure. That feeling means it’s time to pray and seek answers.

Sally went on to encourage women to use their words to encourage others. “God may one day say, ‘I gave you the gift of communication. How did you use it for the glory of my kingdom.”‘ Again, I say “A-men!”

Bethany’s daddy, with a smile and a wise word, set her free from guilt she shouldn’t carry from a law she wasn’t asked to follow. Our father can and will do the same for us. We only have to ask.

Lord, May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart to pleasing in your sight. May I seek you and you alone for direction for my life. Help me to encourage my sisters in Christ to seek after you in all things as well. A-men.

*Susie and Mr. Smith are not their real names. And… this family would never impose their family rules for modesty on another. Often, we assume folks are judging us when in fact, they are not. (A topic for another day! 🙂

Article Global Facebook Twitter Myspace Friendfeed Technorati del.icio.us Digg Google Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon Eli Pets

8 Responses to “Someone Else’s Law”

  1. Amy Foote Says:

    Wow wow wow! This is an excellent post Tina! Just what I needed to hear too! Thank you for posting this today. How often do we allow ourselves to feel like we are ‘less than’ by trying live by others convictions and standards.

    I have dealt with this alot personally these past few years as we put our kids in public school.

    We learn SO much from our children, dont we?

    Loving Jesus, and living a life surrendered to Him, thats what it’s all about.
    Blessings!

  2. Catherine Mikkola Says:

    Tina, let me add an “AMEN” to your wise words!! I just love the godly wisdom you’ve shared with us here. Thank you!!

  3. Jenny Lanier Says:

    “She went on to challenge writers not to “put women under the pile of legalism.”” I like that! I gave up reading child rearing books and homeschooling books for that very reason!

  4. Christine Says:

    Loved this! I read and enjoy a few sites that have modesty links on their sidebars. I just leave that alone. I love my jeans as a mommy and for my kids–girls included! It’s the only practical thing for muddy climates, first of all.

  5. Sarah Mae Says:

    I love this! Yes, and amen, and WAY TO GO MOM! I’ve been SO guilty of piling up “standards” on women. I am just shutting my mouth for awhile on my blog, but thank you for not shutting yours! 🙂

  6. The Jobe Journal » Blog Archive » A Blog Award Nomination! Says:

    […] Someone Else’s Law […]

  7. Amanda Says:

    found your blog through Elizabeth Esther’s site… great post!

  8. Sistergirl Says:

    Wow, I love the post.

Leave a Reply