I am currently sitting outside on my back deck enjoying the beautiful evening listening to the birds. They sound so carefree, and they should be! The Bible makes it clear God Himself takes care of them. Oh to be a sparrow, and by nature fully trust in God for our every need. Why do I worry, really?
I saw something this week that has stuck with me. Little girls trying to play outside in long skirts.
It seems that this small observation would be completely harmless. But the realization of the matter is, it is incredibly harmful.
I could see myself in those little girls, I could see my daughter. Fast forward to four years after we left the UPCI (Emancipation Day is in my calendar this week!) and I am still picking up the pieces of myself that I lost as a child. I am still watching my own daughter navigate through the remnants of her past in the organization.
You see, these little girls have no voice. They have no identity. They have no choice. As I was, they are being taught from birth that the very God that watches so closely over the sparrows is so harsh towards them that he cares about every stitch of clothing they are wearing. They are being taught that by wearing certain articles of clothing it would make men sin by lusting over them. They are learning to be ashamed of their bodies as God designed them and learning to hide their curves at all costs. They are losing little bits of themselves every single day.
I am heartbroken, even now. These little girls are why I can’t stay silent. Years of these teachings create seemingly irreparable consequences. Small blows to their self-esteem build up and cause incredible damage to a woman’s psyche.
I know. I’ve been there. I am still there. Not as I was before, but definitely still there.
Building self-esteem takes time. After having your identity ripped from you your entire life, it takes lots of time to figure yourself out.
I have written about modesty from a Biblical perspective recently, https://findingmyfreedomdoingmylife.com/2020/02/07/the-oxymoron-of-modesty/, however, my burden this week has been the long term effects.
Being told what you can and cannot wear every single day, having ingrained in your brain only certain types of women wear those clothes, being constantly hyper aware of every male around you takes a toll.
Most women, by the time they are adults, have adapted a certain style, perfected a makeup routine, accumulated the perfect jewelry collection to match their outfits. Have taken a dance class or played a sport. Not me. Not the girls I was observing.
We get to struggle as adults to figure us out. We get to have fitting room meltdowns, wear awkward clothing as we try to navigate the world of women’s jeans, watch countless makeup tutorials on YouTube only to get overwhelmed in an Ulta and walk out with nothing. We are the women who are ashamed of our bodies, incapable of taking a compliment, and mistrust every man ever.
We are the collateral damage of a church organization ran by man-made rules.
We are the repercussions of the men who always have to be in charge of the women.
We are the victims of modesty culture gone wrong.
But, guess what? I now have a voice! I am now capable of standing on my own two feet, making my own decisions, and speaking out against this damaging mindset!
And I intend to.
As long as there are little girls trying to run around in a long skirt, I will speak up.
I will be their voice.
I owe it to the little girl I once was.
She deserves it.