Spring Cleaning

You know that blog I wrote last month about bikinis? The one that started an in-depth conversation about modesty? No one wants to be a hypocrite…but until last weekend I kind of was. Let me explain.

I was doing some spring cleaning in my closet last weekend and came across a little black dress that I own. I purchased it about a year and a half ago while shopping with a non-Christian friend of mine who convinced me that it looked “hot” and that I should buy it. So I did, though I had never worn it.

Last weekend I tried it on again and stood in front of the mirror. My conversation with myself went something like this:

“Hm, it certainly is fitted. Do I look a hooker? Well, I would never wear it in public. But my future husband might like it! He might…or he might think I look like a hooker. Do I really want to present myself to him like this? I mean, I don’t feel very feminine. In fact, I kind of feel like a hooker. Well, maybe I should give it away to charity. Geez, it was $109! Bummer. Well, at least it’s going to charity. Wait, do I really want someone else to look like a hooker?? Not really. So do I just throw it away? Geez, I’ve never even worn it! But I guess that’s the best thing to do.”

As the pile of black satin sat at the bottom of my trashcan, all I could see was $109 going down the drain.

I called this blog “Spring Cleaning” though “Virtue in Progress” would also have been appropriate. In every season of our life, we are called to reflect on who we are and who we want to be. As Christians, we want to more and more closely resemble Christ. Little by little, we make changes to live a more authentic Christian life.  For me, this has meant fine-tuning the virtue of modesty.

Quitting bad habits that we’ve nurtured for years is tough. Ending destructive relationships that we are so comfortable in is tough. Plugging up the venomous words that come out of our mouth is tough.

What do you have in the “closet” of your life that needs to be thrown out?

Or, what tools do you have in the “toolbox” of your life that don’t work anymore or need their edges sharpened?

“No one pours new wine into old wineskins.” – Mark 2:22

Spring is here so get cleaning, and allow the Risen Christ to draw you to Himself!

12 Replies to “Spring Cleaning”

  1. I cleaned out my closet too, and ended up giving a lot of stuff away to charity. Some stuff truly didn’t fit anymore (I guess my figure HAS changed since I was 12…darn), and other stuff was too sexy, or just not my style anymore. Regarding the “sexy” clothes, like the standard little black dress, I’ve learned that you can throw jackets or blazers over them and then they are suddenly modest. If you really like something, but want it modest enough for church there are ways of fixing it.

    One bad habit I can mention is biting my nails. I have done literally everything possible to stop – worn gloves when I know I’ll be sitting around my house idle, done the bad tasting nail polish – and bit through the polish, and figured out how to get the gloves off even though I had taped them around my wrists. The only time i don’t chew on them is at the hospital, because I know what kind of germs I’m dealing with there. So maybe I should log in even more hours in the ER? It’s a self-soothing habit in a way, so maybe I need to be treating it deeper than at the surface. My point is that in every bad habit, there’s a deeper reason behind it. Why do we keep little dresses that are sexy for years even though we can’t find an appropriate place to wear them if we are trying to be good Catholic women? By the way, the only way anyone could really look like a hooker (if they were trying to anyways) is to show it all off. My grandmother always said that if you show off your legs, put away the decolletage and the arms. So If I wanted to wear a short[er] skirt, I would wear something long sleeved and fairly high collared on top. If I show off my arms, I’m either in pants or a longer skirt. Basically to look classy in my grandmother’s views was to only show off one area of the body at a time, tastefully. Little Black Dresses it does get a bit more complicated, but to cover up more and be modest you can do a blazer or jacket over top.

    1. Great question about the reasons behind why we do things! In St. Ignatius of Loyola’s “Examen”, he instructs us to end each day with a review: not only WHAT we did…but WHY.

      When we are working at fighting vices and cultivating virtues, it’s important to realize why one vice or virtue may be easier for one person and harder for another.

      I see your grandmother’s point about good taste! Unfortunately this LBD was short, low, and tight. Totally not classy.

  2. I’m wondering: Does the end justfy the means? What is the “end” of a woman? Are we to give pleasure or do we have a divine calling?

    A friend of mine told me a long time ago: even if you disagree with the fashions, if you want to play the game you have to do like the rest. In other words, even if you feel like a hooker and even if you don’t want to look like a hooker, in order to get a man you have to dress like one.

    Now, is this fair to men to play that game?

  3. So if we presented ourselves like maidens, we would be treated like maidens?

    I bet men would rather be knights than pimps.

  4. I remember having a similar conversation with a group of high school girls on a retreat I was a team member for several years ago. We talked a lot about how, as women, we want to feel fashionable and attractive, but how we also need to be cognizant of our brothers in Christ. And there’s a quote by Edith Head — the famous, multiple-Oscar winning old Hollywood costume designer — that I heard years ago and has stuck with me ever since, which I also shared with the high school girls. She said, “Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady.”

  5. If I was married and my wife was dressed inappropriately, I would gently (and in private) point it out. Even if she was only dressing that way for me, I would tell her that immodest clothing doesn’t make her more “sexy”; it only detracts from her God-given beauty.

    1. Yeah I’m pretty sure that “sexy” is a neutral attribute, not a positive attribute. To call something “sexy” simply means that it makes someone want to have sex with you…whether your spouse or a stranger with with foul intentions. I rarely use that term nowadays, and it’s not something I aspire to.

  6. Awesome post! After recently needing to replenish my entire summer wardrobe, I find myself double checking lengths of skirts/shorts/dresses and just how low necklines plunge.

    However, God did give us one earth and we really should use our resources wisely. What you did, and what you are encouranging women to do is admirable. But let’s challenge each other to take it to the next level. How can you reuse that little black dress? Perhaps sew a small pillow, shaw or scarf….get a group of women together with their “spring cleaning” items and have a craft party with the fabric.

    When life hands you lemons…God can make you lemonade!

  7. Love the article! I had an “awakening” of sorts myself about a year ago. I had several outfits strictly designed to show off what I believed were my best assets. Sad, but true, those assets were not my brain, heart, common sense, etc. I am single and believed that was the way to attract men only to realize I don’t want a man who goes after me because he’s attracted to THOSE assets over my hidden qualities. And if a man is attracted to me initially because of those assets, will he respect me, honor me and want to keep those assets private in our marriage? Probably not.

    I also just read your Catholics at the Beach post just now and I immediately sent the link to my very Catholic friend who, several months ago, made fun of me for mentioning I was on a mission to buy a new (one-piece) swimsuit. I was called “grandma” and given a look of disgust for even considering it. On a positive note, it did open up a great dialogue about why she feels young women should be showing off as much as possible. I am just glad to see I’m not alone as a 20-something in wanting to keep myself covered. I like to use the more “layman” arguement that I wouldn’t parade around in my underware in front of my family, let alone strangers, why would I be comfortable parading around in something that covers the same (and sometimes less) simply because it’s made of different material?

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