Monday, January 9, 2012

Un-Churchy Thoughts... In Church

It should be no surprise to my loyal fans... er... friends and readers that I go to church nearly every Sunday. One of the things I've struggled with, really for quite some time, is staying mentally present during worship. Some people are distracted by people whispering nearby - an inappropriate thing to be doing in church, but people do and what then? Others are distracted by the noise small children make (in our church it's referred to with a chuckle as "Holy Noise.") And for yet another group, it is just the long to-do list awaiting them at home. The point is, we all deal with distracting thoughts in church.

It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it can be a problem!

These past few weeks I've been really paying attention to where my mind has been during prayers. The church we attend is pretty small. Many of the women wear ankle-length skirts, especially the married or older women. About half of the women choose to wear a headscarf and cover their hair. I don't and have never felt pressured to but some do and that's their thing. 

Some of the younger girls, who are still in high school, about the enter their college years, however, push the envelope. And my mind has strayed to meow-meow thoughts about their choices:

That skirt is a little short, don'cha think? Meow.

Don't bend forward too far, Honey, you show a little too much that way. Mrreow.

Yikes! Polka dots and stripes... Really?! Mrrreow!

Ahem... You get the idea. Does all this make me a bad person? Well, hopefully not bad, but it does certainly put a spotlight on a weak spot!

Clearly they're not quite to that stage of maturity quite yet! 
These poor girls often don't know that they're showing too much, and I see the same thing walking around the grocery store, the mall, the book store, you name it. Or how about those super-tight jeans, size zero, anyone?? Here is my thinking: With four young men in the house, one soon to enter puberty, if I notice, my boys are certain to see it too - one day. And how do I combat that?

I've long been a mostly-jeans person and have been following a fairly new blog (she started this past year) by an awesome-looking gal who pledged to wear a skirt almost every day for a year, and she puts a cute picture on there too. Since I started watching her blog, I've also begun to try to "dress up" a little more when we go out.

(To be similarly inspired, head over to: A Year In Skirts or also take a look at Beauty Redefined - a group that is working to get people to be more aware of the ways images are presented in society and the damage that can do, especially to girls.)

Getting ready to go out
In watching what I wear more carefully, I now notice things even more than I did before! Things like when pants are so tight they show every bit of curve or when someone bends forward and they flash me. And in church, it's distracting. And I end up being mentally catty. So my challenge is to turn those moments times during which I can work on my spiritual strength. And I think that's the best prescription for any kind of distraction during worship.

What better time is there to say a prayer for someone or work on strengthening my focus (including when I'm mentally dissected by children pulling on my legs or playing with my hair!)

And then, if I can find a tactful way to tell the girl, I quietly mention to them at coffee hour that maybe they should be careful about bending over too far in that outfit.

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  1. "In watching what I wear more carefully, I now notice things even more than I did before! Things like when pants are so tight they show every bit of curve or when someone bends forward and they flash me."
    Yes yes yes! I couldn't agree more. It's so true that skirt wearing has made me even more aware of all clothing choices and sometimes the clothes of others. What I seem to notice the most, is that unless people are dressed for work, folks tend to look pretty sloppy out there! Although for whatever reason, people dress a little nicer at Trader Joes and Sprouts :)

  2. I know what you mean about distractions. In my church, we corporately pray. I, personally, remain mostly silent while the pastor (or another) leads the prayer, but all around me are whispers (and not so whispers) of others "agreeing in prayer" as we call it. I don't mind it and sometimes join in myself if I felt led to, but some do seem to take it to excess. I've been to other churches where it's almost a prayer competition with the pastor, the pastor leading the prayer is drowned out by the congregation agreeing in prayer. To me, it can distract me away from the prayer itself.

    I get distracted by clothing, too. I wear skirts or dresses about 95% of the time to church. I will NOT wear jeans to church, but some of the ladies do, old and young.

    I get distracted by holes in clothing, funny things worn in the hair, smells, someone dancing a little during the song service, the list goes on. Ultimately it is my responsibility to remain focused. Right now, the only distractions I should have are my children. No one else needs to get my unneeded attention.


I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


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