Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dressed Up in Pants at Church

I wear pants to church. I haven't always. As a fairly typical female member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I found the idea of wearing pants a bit inappropriate. I thought I was supposed to wear a dress or skirt to church. The turning point for me was when I realized that I could follow the standards in For the Strength of Youth in pants.

Under "Sabbath Day Observance," it says, "Your...dress on the Sabbath should show respect for the Lord and His holy day." For years, I understood this to mean that I ought to wear a dress all day, not just to church. 

I tend to avoid wearing dresses. I think the last time I wore a dress for something other than a church-related reason was when I was a bridesmaid in 2007. In spite of that, I would dutifully wear a dress to church each week. I would often change into pants after church, but that line in For the Strength of Youth haunted me, and I would feel a bit guilty for it.

Then I had an epiphany. As I was changing from my dress into pants after church one Sunday, I realized that I could change into slacks (as opposed to my normal jeans or yoga pants) and still show respect for the Lord's holy day that way. And there it was: I can be dressed up in pants.

I don't often have occasion outside of church to dress up, but when I do, I wear pants. Dates with my husband top the list of reasons for me to dress up, and when I really want to look good for him, I curl my hair and maybe put on a little makeup. And then I wear pants. When I was job hunting, I wore pants to interviews. When I interned on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, I wore pants. And if I were to meet the queen of England or receive the Nobel Prize, I think I'd wear pants. Unless there were a dress code that required me to wear a dress, I just don't see many situations where I'd choose to wear a dress. (Formal dances and my wedding are the exceptions that come to mind, but, in those cases, the dresses were more about feeling like a princess than showing respect.) (And I did wear jeans to the open house celebrating my wedding at my parents' house, and I only changed into a dress from the slacks I'd been wearing for the open house in my husband's home state at my father-in-law's request.)

As it turns out, there isn't a dress code that requires me to wear a dress to church. In the Ensign in July 1971--more than 40 years ago--there was a statement on women’s and girls’ dress issued by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve that said, “The Church has not attempted to indicate just how long women’s or girls’ dresses should be nor whether they should wear pant suits or other types of clothing. We have always counseled our members to be modest in their dress, maintaining … standards … [that] would not be embarrassing to themselves and to their relatives, friends, and associates. We have advised our people that when going to the temple they should not wear slacks or mini-skirts, nor otherwise dress immodestly. We have not, however, felt it wise or necessary to give instructions on this subject relative to attendance at our church meetings, although we do feel that on such occasions they should have in mind that they are in the house of the Lord and should conduct themselves accordingly.”

(I only recently came across this quote, and I have to admit to some chagrin. I have worn pants to the temple, but since reading this quote, I have always worn dresses.)

And so culture, it seems, is the reason women wear dresses to church.

I don't consider myself a feminist, and I certainly don't want to be ordained to the Priesthood. My reasons for wearing pants to church are different than those of the group who organized Wear Pants to Church Day. I appreciate that women have started saying prayers at General Conference. I'm thrilled that women are able to serve as full time missionaries at 19. I think it would be great if there were parity between the boys/young men’s and girls/young women’s budgets and activities and camps. (Seriously, I love the idea of a high adventure for girls.) But even without considering any of these things, I have always felt loved and valued as a daughter of God, and, honestly, before other women started these conversations, I never even thought of these issues.

But I appreciate the conversations they have started, and I'd like to chime in. Wearing a pair of dress pants to church is just as respectful as wearing a dress. In fact, I think a nice pair of slacks is more appropriate than some casual dresses or skirts that many women don’t even think twice about wearing to church. And wearing pants to church doesn’t have to mean a woman is making some sort of radical statement; it can simply mean that she chooses to wear pants. And that’s okay.

Whether we choose to wear a dress or pants, we should always keep in mind what Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, so eloquently said"We used to speak of 'best dress' or 'Sunday dress,' and maybe we should do so again. In any case, from ancient times to modern we have always been invited to present our best selves inside and out when entering the house of the Lord—and a dedicated LDS chapel is a 'house of the Lord.' Our clothing or footwear need never be expensive, indeed should not be expensive, but neither should it appear that we are on our way to the beach. When we come to worship the God and Father of us all and to partake of the sacrament symbolizing the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we should be as comely and respectful, as dignified and appropriate as we can be. We should be recognizable in appearance as well as in behavior that we truly are disciples of Christ, that in a spirit of worship we are meek and lowly of heart, that we truly desire the Savior’s Spirit to be with us always."

If we truly are disciples of Jesus Christ and our appearance manifests that in our "best dress," I propound that it doesn't much matter whether that best dress is a dress or pants.

Update 11/12/15

I have come to realize that my disdain for wearing dresses is closely tied to the temperature. I get cold easily, and dresses don't do much to keep me warm when it is chilly. Also, feeling free from the constraints of "having" to wear a dress every week, I've found that I don't mind them as much as I used to. And so I sometimes still wear dresses to church, or, newly, on dates with my husband, who, as it turns out, sometimes likes me to wear a dress. But either way, I'm still not trying to make a radical statement. Sometimes (especially when it's cold) I simply choose to wear pants to church. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Day 30: My Favorite Song

Let's finish this challenge!

But seriously, my favorite song? Do I have a favorite anything? Besides Joseph. He's definitely my favorite. Other than him, I guess I'd say that green is my favorite color. But a year ago I would have said that blue was. And I think that vanilla is my favorite ice cream. But that's because it is smooth and can go with anything. It's like can wear any color with jeans and it's fine. Vanilla goes with pie, it goes with cake, it can stand alone, etc.

Okay, so maybe I do have a few favorites. But a song? Nope. I have favorites. Plural.

As I mentioned on Day 15, I bought a whole cd of songs I didn't know and still don't know simply for the song "A Thousand Miles" by Vanessa Carlton. I guess that qualifies it to be one of my favorite songs.

Another of my favorite songs is "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield. I like how it helps me remember that the future is what I make of it and to embrace life.

And then there's "I Am a Child of God." A couple of weeks ago I asked Tavi if she wanted to take a nap. She crawled into Eldon's bed. Eldon then came over to her, started stroking her hair, and sang "I Am a Child of God" to her. I didn't even know he knew it. You can't beat that.

Day 29: What I've Learned

Note: I drafted this post nearly a year ago. Most of it still applies.

When I was 14, I started writing in my journal every day. I did that for years (though on my mission I didn't always write every day; I had a bedtime, and I couldn't stay up to write if I didn't get it done before then). Then I got married, and my habit nearly died. I usually managed to write once or twice a week, but the regularity with which I'd written prior to my marriage was gone. It was while I was in this journal-writing slump that I started my blog. But I found I wasn't a very regular blogger, either. I thought that perhaps this challenge would help me change that. It wasn't terribly effective. :)

A few months ago I stumbled on an article that gave me a push to start writing in my journal regularly again. So I've managed to get back into my habit, though it's still a bit bumpy when our schedule is abnormal, such as when we go out of town. And then a few weeks ago I read another article, I think this one, though I'm not sure because the way I applied what I read isn't explicitly described, that impelled me to add another element to my journal entries.

Anyway, I'm now writing regularly in my journal; I'm writing entries that help me focus on things I am grateful for, positive things that happen, goals, and follow up on those goals

I have some friends who put lots of pictures of their kids on their blogs. I don't do that so much; I post pictures of my kids on flickr.

Today's Update: I found that the goals tended to be the same thing day after day, so I changed them to weekly goals. Somewhere along the way those weekly goals fell by the wayside, at least as far as recording them in my journal went. I'd actually forgotten about them until I re-read this draft. Maybe I'll start them again. Anyway, I don't write in my journal every night, but I'm still have my journal-writing habit, and it is still gratitude-based. I don't need a blog to substitute for my journal. My journal is for me; my blog is for what I think I'd like to share with others. So it doesn't matter if I don't update it as often as I do my journal. And since I post pictures on Flickr, I don't need to update it for friends as often as some of my friends do about their kids. Because that's great for them, and I enjoy reading their blogs (when I have time, ha!), but that's not what my blog is for me. And that is what I have learned.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day 28: Now and Then

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2010

Over the past year I've moved a couple of times and I had another baby. But I don't feel like I've changed very much; I'm simply trying to follow President Hinckley's advice to "try a little harder to be a little better" each day.

Day 27: The Why Behind the Challenge

In 2 days it will be a year since I started this 30 day blogging challenge. Look at me go!

I decided to take this challenge because I felt like I needed something that would motivate me to blog. And it motivated me more than I usually am motivated to blog; even though I'm 11 months behind where I ought to be in this challenge, most of my blog posts are from the challenge. :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Most Precious

I am grateful for the status update someone (I can't remember who) posted on Facebook a few days ago. She said something along the lines of, "There is nothing so precious as holding your baby."

It was such a commonplace comment that I only noticed it in passing; in fact, I doubt that I even took the time to "like" it. But it keeps coming into my mind, and the simple thought has helped me to more fully appreciate the sweet smiles, to take an extra moment to focus on my beautiful baby, or to simply be thankful for the moment while I'm standing, swaying back and forth as I watch a movie to sooth a bit of fussiness.

So many people tell us to enjoy this crazy, chaotic time while our kids are young because they grow up so fast. And a lot of times that's easy to forget; life is crazy and chaotic. But my friend's post has stuck with me and is helping me to live in the present and appreciate--now, while she's still a baby--my sweet, precious Tavlin.

Day 26: Friends

The actual topic for Day 26 is "What do you think about your friends?" Seriously, who thought that up? I mean, if someone thinks not nice things about her friends, she isn't likely to post it on a blog that anyone, including said friends, can read! And then, there's the other hand, which indicates that if someone has a friend, they like each other. That's the category I think I fall in. I think my friends are great...that's why they're my friends.

So to make this post a teensy bit more interesting, I thought I'd just list a few things that friends have done for me for which I am grateful.

~Providing hugs and shoulders to cry on
~Getting me out of the house
~Watching my kids
~Helping me identify weaknesses that I can then work to improve
~Calling me on the phone just to talk
~Being my role models
~Hanging out/Spending time with me
~Playing with my hair
~Laughing with me
~Throwing showers for me
~Helping me move
~Making gifts from the heart
~Opening my eyes to see the world in a different way
~Loving me

This is just a quick list that came to mind in a few minutes, in no particular order. I am grateful for the blessing of friends in my life.