Tuesday, April 12, 2011

When You Look in the Mirror, Do You See a Child of God?

I'm working on a pretty big non-work project right now.  Basically it involves putting together a presentation/class on how, despite the fact that we're not supposed to form opinions of people based solely on appearance, people do just that.  And how, by subtle adjustments in one's appearance, a person can manage that first impression to be more accurate in presenting on the outside what that person is on the inside.  Sort of a 'clothes make the man (or woman)' thing.

The reason this is important to me is because we, as Christians, are supposed to be evangelists, and how can we evangelize if we look like (as my friend put it so well) we forgot our Zoloft, or spent the relief check on kitty litter?

I don't mean the kind of evangelization that brings pairs of Jehovah's Witnesses or LDS to the door, complete with tracts and a refusal of any offer of refreshment. I mean the kind that shines from within, that makes a person's face transparent with JOY that comes from a real, personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. (After all, we Catholics, along with the Orthodox, have the most personal relationship of all Christians with Jesus, because we receive Him in Holy Communion!)

It's turning out to be a very interesting, and very big, project.  Mainly because we have to present this information in a way that doesn't make people feel as if we are saying 'hey, you look really sloppy, people aren't going to take your Christianity seriously because they won't be able to get past the fact that your pants are too short and you have two buttons missing on your sweater'.  Rather we want to make people really THINK about the fact that, as baptized Christians, we are sons and daughters of God.  Jesus is our Lord, and also our Brother. In Him we are loved beyond all imagining......

Ever been in love?  And knew that the person you loved, loved you back?  Didn't you take extra care with your appearance to always look your best for that person?  Scripture tells us not to WORRY about what we are to wear, or eat - but it doesn't say not to pay any attention to our garments or food.

I think some people get so hung up on dressing modestly that they lose sight of the fact that modest does not mean sloppy.  And some people deliberately dress in old, ill-fitting clothing because they think this is evidence of their humility.  To me, dressing in a way that says "look how little attention I pay to my clothing and personal appearance" is just as prideful as flaunting designer labels on every article of clothing and wearing stuff with the price tag hanging, a la Minnie Pearl.

We have a dignity, innate in us because we were each individually created by God for His purpose, and we ought not to ignore that dignity in an attempt to seem not 'worldly' or 'secular'. The Holy Spirit dwells within us, we are His vessel, and the vessel that holds such treasure ought not to be treated poorly.  We must clothe our souls with prayer, fasting and almsgiving, and our bodies with dignified, seemly garments, to be fitting vessels for our Lord God and Savior.


  1. Interesting project! Who is the targeted audience? I've seen this clothing debate on many a Catholic women's blog. I haven't seen too many gals dress sloppy to pass off as modestly dressed, but I have seen what might be termed frumpy. That being said, with today's ultra thin materials & tight-fitting styles, it can be a challenge to dress both modestly & somewhat in style. Now don't get me started on the "all women ought to wear make-up" (yuck!) debate...ack!

  2. It is interesting, the more I get into it. Hopefully it will be presented at my summer retreat if we can pull everything together (although I can see it turning into a book, realistically). The project was hatched because I read Colleen Hammond's book "Dressing with Dignity" and found so much in it that was not applicable to a lot of people; and a lot of people who need a book like that aren't able to take the general idea and personalize it to their particular circumstances.
    Perhaps 'sloppy' wasn't really the best word to use.....'dated and out of style, but chosen because it sort of fits' would better describe what I was trying to say.