Modest and Effective

Break the conventions; Keep the Commandments

~G.K. Chesterton

After a long, tearful, yet productive conversation with my husband last night over my modesty issues, he summed things up with a sentence in a bedtime prayer: “Lord, show Anna how to be modest and effective.”

Let me unpack that profound (to me) phrase for you.

I have had security issues throughout my modesty in clothing journey. You all in the same boat will know what its like to feel odd and out of place. For the most part, I have conquered those insecurities. What was bothering me last night was this: wanting to have a threshold of approachability with others so they can hear what I have to say (Lord have mercy) and do. He gave me certain talents of writing and speaking abilities; I don’t want to waste it dinking around with mixed-signal clothing choices and lose my audiences.

Modest and Effective. Sounds like a motivational speaker phrase. I like it!

Now, onto the Chesterton Quote.

The other revelation I had this moring was reflecting on how many conventions one can break and still keep a semblance of civility with other humans. You can break one very large convention, make your point, and people will respect you. Break a bunch of major conventions at weird timing and they might haul you off to the looney bin. Break small conventions consistently and they will consider you rude or put up with you because you are family.

With headcovering and wearing modest (though disordered, I admit) clothing, I am breaking one giant conglomeration of conventions all at once. Strangers who stare and almost wreck their autos is a good sign you are doing something very right or very wrong. The problem with me is softening the blow of the unconventional egregiousness I inflict. And lining up the wardrobe to reflect a consistent convention-breaking mode of life.

Pray for me (or send me well-wishes) as I try to organize these motivational quotes into action, taking pictures and making videos along the way.


10 Responses to “Modest and Effective”

  1. 1 Laura April 22, 2009 at 9:02 am

    I too have received “the look”. For about a year and 1/4 I have been wearing dresses and coverings. Although some of the coverings I wear are not as apparent or of “a different religion,” I know exactly what it feels like to be seen as strange or odd in some way and even loony because I choose not to dress like the rest of our jeans and sweat shirt society.

    I have even received a bout of criticism from my own family and they apparently refuse to assist me while my husband is on unemployment and I am the only one working. They feel “the government programs” can help me out. Talk about judgment of someone on the outside rather than on the inside…… Furthermore, I think this partly has to do with the fact that we are choosing not to send our son to public school.

    I know what it feels like to be rejected for a piddly piece of cloth on ones head. One never knows how much controversy that can stir up…..

  2. 2 Sanna April 22, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Anna, I think this is a really interesting and valid issue you are dealing with. I’ll pray for you!
    It’s definitely something I have struggled with, too – if I have understood you correctly, the balance between being physically modest and not alienating people, or turning them off the message you are trying to carry through Christ. The answer I personally came to, after tears, prayer and lost sleep, was that it isn’t within my power to choose how people respond to the message. All I can do is work my hardest to have the humble attitude of a servant always, to see that of God in everyone, to forgive constantly, and to turn the other cheek when someone strikes. This, in my experience, speaks more words than when I’m screwing your brain up trying to figure out if the message I’m conveying is ‘right’ or ‘approachable’.
    On the other hand, there is that excellent advice to follow the SPIRIT and not the LETTER of the law. Modifying dress for different situations isn’t prohibited by anyone! We can only try and trust in the Holy Spirit to give us the wisdom concerning this.
    As I said, I will be praying for you!

  3. 3 minna April 22, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I started dressing modestly for Our Lord last year .Started wearing the head coverings this year.I have to say i get a lot of dirty looks .I had one guy ask me in a mean way and i didn’t tell him why. I felt so intimidated by him .He caught me totally off guard .Do you ever have that problem? If so how do you handle it.?It’s so hard living in this culture today .By the way I loved your latest video .could you do a video on that hijab style I thought it was beautiful.thank you .God bless you

  4. 4 karen April 22, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Good phrase- 1st off let me say that I don’t cover because of modesty issues – so big grain of salt.
    I am wondering if part of being effective is making sure when people see us they don’t label us as something we are not. e.g., Muslim by wearing a scarf in the stereotypical hijab style (there are lots of hijab tying styles) or mennonite or amish by wearing one of their distinctive modest bonnets, and if you live in a area with a large concentration of Jewish ladies who cover – they wearing a scarf in that distinctively jewish style – wouldnt’ be a good idea, either. My area, that isn’t such a big deal, it appesrs that the only ladies who cover are Muslims, mennonites and me. 🙂
    esp. re: the hijab – people may tune out what we are trying to say because they see a Muslim saying something about modesty or whatever they think “well, that doesn’t apply to me – I am not Muslim.” and they just get stuck on that – forgetting that we aren’t muslim’s either.
    So for me, I make sure my scarfs aren’t tied hijab style – although I do like the style – I don’t want people to mislabel me – and we all label. It just wouldn’t be as effective.

  5. 5 S. Marie April 23, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Remember, don’t give into the world’s ways, just so they won’t reject you. We are to be a sign of contradiction, just like our Lord. If they cannot approach us because we dress “funny”, then who has the problem? It’s not you sister. I guess i’m used to it, because even before I came to know Jesus, I dressed different from everyone, so this is old hat to me…but with Him, you can do all things, even fight against the tide of this world.
    God Bless

  6. 6 faithforlife April 24, 2009 at 12:27 am

    I agree with the posts above that basically say that modest doesn’t mean always dressing the same. It is certainly possible to vary both clothes and headcoverings and still remain modest. What it comes down to I think is how you feel about wearing any particular style of either and then what suits the occasion.

  7. 7 Kristy April 28, 2009 at 3:17 am

    I’ll be praying for you Anna. Remember that throughout the Bible, Christians are refered to as aliens & strange in the eyes of the world. Revel in your “strangeness.” 🙂

    As Christians, we are often asked of God to do things that seem strange to the outside world & many times to our own brothers & sisters in Christ. To the world the fact that I am a 29 yr old virgin & plan to remain so until my wedding night seems very strange. I have heard critical & offensive comments about this. I somehow suddenly become “ignorant” & “sheltered” to the “real” world once people find out. I use to feel shame for it (& sometimes still do, something I’m working on). I mean, common, shouldn’t it be the other way around? Wasn’t it just a few decades ago? It would be humorous if it weren’t so sad.

    I understand the “approachability” issue. Over the past year I have lost close to 70 lbs & one of the reasons for doing this was because I wanted to be a better ambassador for Christ. Sad as it is to say, I believe my weight was an issue. I didn’t feel that I was being all I could be the way I was. I’m not saying that overweight people cannot be wonderful representitives for Chrisitianity but I am saying that I believe I used my weight problem as an excuse or a wall to hide behind. I wanted to loose weight so that I could be more approachable or at least feel more approachable. I’m not saying that I think you should give up your modest lifestyle, but I do understand having something that makes you feel less approachable to the outside world. However, I think your modest lifestyle is a wonderful outward expression of Christian obedience & sacrifice. You are not trying to convince the world that this is the way “true Christians” dress, but it is the way Christians should act: when God asks us to do something, even if it doesn’t make sense (which does it ever, with God?), we do as He says. It is also a great expression as to the way God loves diversity. His children are made up of all races, personalities, convictions, etc…

    I love what your husband said. I think that should be all of our prayers.

  8. 9 otowi April 28, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    I started covering around 1994-1995. Now I am very used to it and I don’t think people look at me strangely most of the time – yes, a few here and there. But I find I am effective in my work as a teacher and my work on boards of directors and different venues and the covering has not gotten in the way in the least – in fact, sometimes it has helped. So hang in there!

  9. 10 Oriana May 1, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    Hello Anna,

    My name is Oriana, I have just started blogging and I passed by your blog. For the past year the Lord has been guiding me to different ways of living, he has given me eyes to see that what I thought was right was really wrong and misleading. Through my journey with him I have been learning so much about purity in heart and modesty and now I am up to the stage where I am considering wearing a head covering. Although I haven’t fully committed yet I wanted to tell you that although you may get disapproving looks and all that, just think of it as showing the “world” a glimpse of what life could be without modern worldviews that corrupt us everyday. I personally think you are an inspiration. I will pray for you 🙂

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"I can't say I don't believe in your God, but I don't believe He meant the world to be as it is." ~Nicholas Higgins. North and South.

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you are licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what." No idea where that last quote came from, but I like it!

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