on appropriate churchwear for kids (part 1)...

>> Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm one of those minority Caucasian parents who actually believes children should have special clothes for church.

Lots of families from other cultures faithfully make it a priority to dress their kids for church in something different than what they wear all week ~ but few do so in my own culture.

We want our little son to have every opportunity to connect with growing up as a man in this society that demeans and insults manhood. To us, that means (among other things) that he needs to have clothes that make him feel that he can copy daddy when they get ready for church side by side in the mirror. It means we want to dress him in clothing we hope he'll identify himself with, clothing that aims higher than being a little gangster or a miniature athlete.

Especially when we're going to church to spend the day with God.

Call me weird.

But I'm convinced that part of the specialness of spending time with God is achieved in the way we prepare for it. (That's also why we still prepare for Sabbath the old-fashioned biblical way: food cooked, clothes ironed, house cleaned - all before the sun sets on Friday nights.) But I digress.

As a little girl, I sensed something tremendously precious about having my church dress ready, shoes shined, and everything laid out the night before. It made going to church special. Like getting ready for a banquet or preparing for a fancy dinner date ~ the more thought and effort put into the preparation, the more important the occasion.

And what can be more important than meeting with God?

Sure, there are those who decry making any effort for church at all. They make loud excuses like, "God accepts us just as we are," and, "Dressing up is just a facade to disguise how unholy we are during the rest of the week."

I agree, God does accept us as we are. And for some people, putting on a church suit probably IS like wearing a mask to cover the ugliness underneath.

But while God takes us as we are, he never EVER leaves us satisfied there. And since when do we need to be perfect on the inside before we're allowed to make a little effort on the outside?

I look at this controversial subject from a different angle. If my husband plans a date with me, I have two options:

  1. I can show up just like I spent the day (lately that might often mean having unwashed hair, and wearing ragged old comfy pajamas). He will still love me, because he's just great like that, but he'll get the distinct sense that his date-planning effort wasn't valuable enough to me to generate any effort of response on my part.
  2. Or I can plan my afternoon to complete my work on time, get a quick shower, put my hair up and improve my face a bit, select a nice outfit, and do my darndest to be ready on time. He loves me just the same as if I'd stayed in my pajamas, but now - his effort in making a reservation of time and location is rewarded and encouraged by my response. He made an effort, I made an effort. We both have a delightful dinner and he knows that I love him enough to make myself ready for him.
I see church the same way.

God loves us unconditionally either way. But the question isn't about how much God loves us. It's more about how much we love him. Do we care enough to make an effort? Or are we expecting him to just keep on loving us like he does, without any response or enthusiasm on our part?

After all, isn't the Sabbath supposed to be our weekly date with the Divine? So why wouldn't we want our kids to participate in the excitement?

© Sarah K. Asaftei, 2009 unless otherwise sourced. Use allowed by express written permission only.

8 comments:

Angela July 23, 2009 at 3:59 AM  

I so agree! I found a darling suit for Troy at a consignment sale ($10)!! My kids are always dressed up nicely. Yeah, it may be khakis and a nice shirt but still, it is important to me. :) We do usually change Troy before lunch, however. Pasta sauce and nice clothes.... :p

marc,  July 23, 2009 at 2:16 PM  

The caution here is that too many times the church becomes an arena for showing off... a competition for whose clothes are better! Or, to stick with the topic, whose kids are better dressed :-( Don't misunderstand me, I do believe in making church-going special... and raising our kids to feel that there is a special day when they meet with God in a special way! But it is this relationship that we should struggle to maintain at the core... and let all the other side details be just that: side details!

Sarah July 23, 2009 at 2:19 PM  

love it! i totally agree. sabbath needs to be a special day. Thumbs up on this post!

Erinn July 23, 2009 at 5:11 PM  

I agree... I dress up to go to the doctor, why not God?!

TIffany,  July 24, 2009 at 12:47 PM  
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Sarah,  July 24, 2009 at 12:47 PM  
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SKA July 24, 2009 at 12:48 PM  
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SKA July 24, 2009 at 12:48 PM  
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