If you graduated from high school in the nineties, as I did, then you remember the flannel shirts and the enormous pants and the intentionally-dressing-like-a-smelly-homeless-person that was so aptly referred to as "grunge". I also remember the day I said to my mother "I think I'm done dressing like an old man". She may have cried a little. But it's harder than you think to climb back out of that putrescent hole, I'll have you know.
Thanks a lot Kurt.
To be totally honest, despite my many improvements in the dressing department, I still have that red polyester boucle buttonless "cardigan". You know, the one with the square pockets on the front that I bought at that thrift store one night almost fifteen years ago? My husband cannot understand my unadulterated obsession with that thing, but I just can't let it go. Who would buy it if I donated it? No one who would love it, I can promise you that. So I keep it and I wear it (but never out of the house. I'm not that cruel).
But otherwise, for the most part, I manage to maintain a certain level of presentable. Not just when we're going out, but yes, especially when we're going out. It took a while for me to get here, though, with periodic forays into "Dressing well is a waste of time! People should love me for who I am, not what I look like! In fact, it's probably a sin or something for me to even care about how other people perceive me! Insert other self-righteous thing about looking like I just got hit by a truck!".
But I keep being shown the light and over time have come to accept the fact that what I do, how I present myself isn't about me.
Ah. Don't you hate it when that's the answer? I know I do.
Because we are neither just body nor just soul but rather an inextricably linked embodied spirit, how we treat and present our bodies can be a reflection of, and reflect onto, the condition of our souls. That in turn lets our families- our children and our husband most importantly, know exactly how we feel about and treat this whole vocation of ours.
What I'm saying is if that if I don't care to at least put on some "real" pants on a regular basis but happily play dress-up when it's time to have coffee with friends, what does that say to my children about my priorities and enthusiasm? Happy to spend a few extra minutes to show my friends and the public that I take them seriously, but not so happy to do so for my family. And I say this with such conviction because I used to be that person. And I can't even say which came first, but in the end, both the dressing and the mothering were fairly miserable.
But maybe you're one that doesn't play dress-up when you're going out either. Sweats at home. Sweats at the grocery store. Haphazard pony-tail and au natural raccoon eyes seven days a week. In this case, we have an even bigger problem- telling others, not just our families but the public and our very selves, that we find this life to be a miserable sort of thing.
I don't find this life to be a miserable sort of thing. I find it to be frightening and challenging. Invigorating and frustrating. Sometimes very, very difficult, at other times bursting with joy. But always, always a reflection of God's great glory. By being intentional about at least getting dressed, maybe even a little more (sliding a bracelet on takes less time than saying the words "sliding a bracelet on"), I'm acknowledging that I take this role, this season of life, seriously. It puts a little pep in my step (you can't wait for the pep before you start getting dressed. It will never come. Honest.). It lets my husband know, in a small but still meaningful way, that I'm grateful for all he does.
When I leave the house with my pile of children, there's no guarantee that they won't cause a scene or otherwise make us wish we had easy access to a boarding school, but if I present myself in a way that doesn't frighten off other women, they'll be more likely to say "Hey, I could probably handle that" instead of "Oh my goodness, that woman looks like she's two steps from the grave! What was she thinking? No children for me ever, no sirree!".
So for myself, my children, my marriage and my contribution to the cause, I get dressed. I smooth down the frizzies. I put on a little concealer. I say "This job is important, this role matters. And yes, even though it's sometimes hard, you could totally do it, too."