Sustainable Modesty

Windmills and solar panels have nothing to do with this blog post (unless the electricity company is using renewables to power my computer.)

The week after Pascha (Easter, Resurrection Sunday), is called Bright Week to those of us in the East. I had quite a bit of personal, spiritual and physical turmoil during Lent. After Pascha, well, I felt like I was glowing enough to make it a Bright Month. God calmed me with many things. One lesson I received during Bright week is the answer to this question, “What level of modesty can I sustain for the rest of my life?”

The answer may surprise you.

In our local church, it is an understood and encouraged thing for women to wear a skirt or dress to all services and also wear some sort of headcovering. All the regular the ladies abide by this standard. I am still the odd duck in wearing this standard in my daily living, but at least it is not that extraordinary as in other worshiping communities. This is my baseline. I am doing the “bare minimum” if I show up to Vespers, Divine Liturgy, and other services wearing a modest dress and a headscarf.

“ANNA, have you totally lost your (modesty) marbles?!? How can you dress one way for church and another way the rest of your time? Isn’t that hypocritical?”

I would like to explain another aspect of Orthodox practice which might help you understand this reasoning. Each believer, ideally, has a Prayer Rule that is outlined from their priest or spiritual elder. This is tailored to where the person is, just like you would modify a chore schedule to the abilities ofย  your children. Since I am a wee-bitty Catechumen, I say a very short series of prayers morning and night (less than 10 minutes) and am free to add my intercessions or just sit with Jesus for however long I need or want. Those short prayers are the minimum. I can say them and walk away knowing I did what was required of me. Some days, that is all I can muster and it is enough.

Wearing a long dress and a headscarf to church is enough.

I felt so incredibly free and light after receiving this standard. “Oh really God? That is all? I can hack it. Piece of cake with the frosting!”

I do not see wearing the same clothes during the rest of the week as “extra credit” in any respect just as saying a few more prayers is more brownie points. Go see my video on “Headcovering as Podvig” to get my thoughts on it.

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3 Responses to “Sustainable Modesty”


  1. 1 Kristie April 27, 2010 at 8:12 am

    I see what you are saying ๐Ÿ™‚ Great post!

    For me, I have been spending so much time and mental energy beating myself up because *I* (not God or anyone else) feel like I haven’t been doing enough. It was starting to interfere with my relationship with God, and I was in a very miserable place. I have relaxed a bit in some areas, but I still maintain a level of modesty that is something I can keep with for my life ๐Ÿ™‚

    Learning what “is enough” actually has been very freeing and I feel closer to God. I know that He may ask me to change some areas later on, and that is ok, but for the moment I am doing just what He asks of me ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. 2 Alana April 30, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    I totally agree with what you wrote here. I think it’s possible to be modest without modesty per se becoming a “thing”. And by “thing” I don’t mean an object, but rather a huge hairy deal.

  3. 3 Jill August 5, 2010 at 5:08 am

    Dear Anna,

    I know that you are dedicated to your faith..and I understand what you mean by submitting to a Priest. The standards are fine..but what is GOD telling you to do prayer wise, modesty wise, and everything else. I know they say that you shouldn’t really hear from God in Orthodoxy, and if you do..then you may be deceiving yourself..because you aren’t a Saint…but Anna…you do hear from God.

    If you are a servant of God..why don’t you listen to God Himself? He does speak to you. And when He speaks..He gives us the ability to follow…by His strength. It is by His power that we do anything.

    Much love,

    Jill


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