Cover Up All the Right Places

Cover Up All the Right Places

join usI come from many years of legalism and strong boundaries that I thought could keep people from harming themselves or others. Boundaries that were intended for safety very often created prisons. I didn’t know, I couldn’t see it for what it was. I look back and can see that in some ways I was smug, and arrogant about how good I believed my standards were. This came to the surface for me yesterday as I read a FaceBook post. My strong reaction brought me to evaluate why I was so reactionary.

A lady in our area posted that she was looking for a grief group. She said she had only one or two people in her life and that she had lost a family member and was having trouble processing her grief.

Several people posted that their churches had groups and a reference to contacting the city Chamber of Commerce for suggestions. Most were just helpful suggestions. That is until I read a post that contained more than just an organization and times available.


ModestyThis person mentioned her church name and subsequently went on to say they didn’t expect her to dress up for their group. She followed with “but be sure that you’re covered in all the right places.”

My mind raced towards a strong emotional reaction to what she said. I thought, “WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS SHE SAYING? Here this person is looking for support, for grace, for help in her grief and this lady wanted to make sure she was dressed appropriately! Like she might come to their grief group in a topless bikini? Or did she think this lady was a town stripper? What prompted her to make sure she told her she needed to be dressed appropriately?

No doubt, she believed she was being helpful. No doubt she didn’t see how her words conveyed a presupposed assumption that this lady just may not know how to dress appropriately for a church grief meeting. Yes, she relieved her from believing she had to dress up, but there were still assumptions that brought her to warn her to cover up. And, I guess I’m glad she stated their expectations up front as it’d be embarrassing for the grieving lady to walk into the group in a sun dress and find that to be less covered than expected.

I also had some other strong responses. “Who would ever want to come to your church?” “You’ve just exhibited to me everything I’ve heard about your denomination.” “RUN!” I thought, who would ever want to go to that grief group?

As I processed my own reaction, I can also see clearly how this statement tied into my own story. It ties into my story of legalism in my own life, how I promoted it, and how it has harmed me. My response was more about me than it was about the lady making sure people were covered up for her grief group.

The lady who is grieving may find a great supportive group there who will love her through her challenges. She may find a group of great friends. Her statement of appropriate dress may breeze by most readers without a hitch.

Come As You Are?

But, I think there is something there that needs to be considered. How does our own legalism come out in ways we may not see it. Do we lay expectations on people at times when it’s really most important just to say, “I love you?” What does it look like to say, and practice “come as you are” when inviting people to our church or support group?

And, I’m still feeling my own story. I’m still ranting in my heart about the unspoken legalism that I see in her statement, “Be sure you’re covered in all the right places.” I still want to jump through FaceBook and say, WHAT?”

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One Response to “Cover Up All the Right Places”

  1. Leemond Dollins says:

    I appreciate how you paused yourself and asked yourself, (paraphrased) “What inside myself is fueling the strong reaction?” This is a technique that I am employing when in the same situation. I think it’s akin to going from sending mail out west by Pony Express to sending email when applied to personal growth. Once I read your blog I had the very same reaction. There is a lack of either grace or awareness. I have fallen victim to my lack of awareness or should I say..lack of discernment when it comes to spiritual matters. My zealous views of salvation have most likely pushed more people away from Jesus than have led them to a relationship with Jesus. A couple of women I know pulled me aside and with grace showed me a more biblical way to interact with all people regardless of subject or situation…and that is with love…You did everything right, John, so please don’t be harsh with yourself. FaceBook is such a hard space for me. I am not sure if there is anything else you could have done. Maybe the person so concerned with grieving strippers will come across this blog and grow.

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