Saturday, December 14, 2013

God Hath Not Given Us the Spirit of Fear

Last year, on December 16, women around the world joined in wearing pants to church. I had mixed feelings about it. I supported the idea of feminists doing something instead of just talking about it, but I had been more in the mood for a letter writing campaign or something. But pants was the choice and so I supported it. I still had mixed feelings about wearing pants myself, but I decided to go with it because I remembered having felt judgmental towards pants-wearers in the past, and decided that it was worthwhile to take a conscious stance against judgmentalism. As I said then:
I have never ever worn pants to church. It so happens that I love wearing dresses and skirts, and often wear them on weekdays. I don't particularly want to wear pants to church. BUT, I will be doing so because of this experience. I will be wearing pants to church to be an example to my children that I really do believe that "the lord looketh on the heart [rather than the outward appearance]." I believe in walking the talk. Is wearing pants to church a big deal? No. Will this single event bring about any of the other changes that the All Enlisted movement is hoping for? Not really. But we hope that it will help people to take a look at themselves and their socio-cultural prejudices, and take the opportunity to practice a little non-judgment.
Wow, I had no idea what would follow. Dozens of people (family and friends and total strangers all in chorus) told me that wearing pants was a total non-issue, and that there was no point. Then they told me that I shouldn't do it because it was a point of contention and that contention is of the Devil. Aside from being confused about how pants-wearing can be simultaneously a non-issue and a point of contention, my attention came sharply into focus on two points.
  1. All the contention came from outside the pants-wearing group. (This seemed to prove that it was NOT a non-issue.)
  2. I was scared to wear pants to church.
Scared!! Of wearing pants!! Wow was that a realization. Especially with the knowledge that I was living in a tiny branch in rural Alaska where frankly nobody would care what I wore so long as I showed up. But I was doubly nervous about it because I was supposed to sing in church on that day, and in a congregation of 15 that meets in a room the size of a typical primary room... my pants would be as bold as could be.

But then a scripture came to mind. "God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7). I remembered that fear is the opposite of faith. I remembered the reasons why I supported this whole idea. And on Sunday, December 16, 2012, thirty miles above the Arctic Circle at -16 Fahrenheit, I wore pants to church.

The blouse had pink and purple embroidery so I had my purple too
Can you what happened? Absolutely nothing. I sang in church. In my pants. People told me how well I sang. No one said a word about the pants. Because it was a complete non-issue for all of them.

Except that it was not a non-issue for me. I practiced faith over fear, and love over judgment. And I will do it again.

1 comment:

Brooke said...

I'm part of a large ward in SW Indiana, and there are a few women who sometimes wear pants... and no one cares! I think it's great. However, part of what drew me to the church was the fact that people DO dress up for church. I'm a super casual person, so I thought I would really like those "come as you are" Protestant churches (I was Protestant at that point), but it just didn't feel right. I really don't like wearing dresses, but I also don't own any 'nice pants' just jeans...
Now, I know there are wards in different parts of the country who aren't as accepting... I guess that's the great thing about a ward where there are SO MANY converts :)
I'm sorry you are feeling marginalized by not having the priesthood in your home. My husband is not a member, and will most likely never be a member... I feel very accepted, however I do think many of the lessons taught only talk about that perfect family, and that can be hurtful. Through no fault of my own, I will likely never be sealed to my children in this lifetime.

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