Today, I went to church.
Okay, so that's probably a bit of an exaggeration. TECHNICALLY I went to the church parking lot and didn't get out of the car. I was there on a bit of a reconnaissance mission. I needed to see what people wore to church these days.
This past year, I've been thinking about going back to church more and more. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, maybe it's because I'm a parent now, maybe it's just a whim that got stuck in my head for whatever reason, but it's a feeling that not only can I not shake, it's growing. It went from a "hey, maybe I'll go out of curiosity" to more of a "hey, maybe I SHOULD go" kind of thing. Unfortunately, since it's been almost 20 years since I last went to church, there were lots of things holding me back.
For instance, I haven't been to church in nearly twenty years!!! Any time you go into a social situation where you're going to be joining a group of new people, there's bound to be a bit of anxiety involed. Now, add to that the fact that they are already an established community. Go ahead and toss in the fact that even when you did go to church, it wasn't on a regular basis and rarely the church of the denomination to which you belong, so you are pretty clueless about the whole ritual. Then there's the whole fear of "Churchianity
" and being judged. And of course, there is the whole not knowing what to wear thing.
I know. How petty. It's church, right? You're there to receive God's love, who cares what your outside looks like? It's your heart that counts! Ah, but only if humans were so simple and pure. God may not care what I look like, but I'm sure that the other folks there do. That's just the way our society functions as a whole. Is there anything more awkward than being in a new place surrounded by new people and being dressed TOTALLY WRONG??? I can't think of many things that are!
So, in a worried state of mind that I had nothing to wear to church, and knowing I have no funds to buy new church clothes, I climbed into my car this morning and headed over to the church on a fact finding mission. I got there ten minutes before Mass was supposed to start and was surprised to find that the parking lot was only about half full. I was able to find a parking spot right up front where I could watch everyone go inside. I have to say, I was pretty shocked at what I saw.
When I was a kid, you dressed up to go to church. Girls wore dresses or blouses with skirts. Men wore dress pants and ties. Your shoes were dress shoes. Bare shoulders or skirts more than an inch or two above your knees were never allowed. The only time you would wear head to toe black was if you were there for a funeral or were one of the nanas up front carrying your rosary. You wouldn't even think about wearing shorts, tank tops, or flip flops to church. If you did, your butt would get sent home so fast your head would spin! People looked kind of like this:
Yeah well, apparently times have changed. I saw people in capris. I saw people in cargo pants. I saw LOTS of tank tops. I saw spaghetti strap sundresses. I saw more flip flops than I could count. I saw shorts. I even saw one guy come rolling in wearing a Hawaiian shirt. But the most shocking thing I saw was people wearing JEANS.
Holy crap! Jeans? At church? Really? This is okay now? Not in a million years would I have guessed that people wore jeans to church! That's worse than wearing jeans to work in an office! Now, granted, it wasn't a vast majority of people wearing them, but they definitely were there. Mind blowing.
I don't want anyone to think I'm saying this like I'm passing judgement on the people wearing these items. I'm not - I think it's great that they're even going and like I said before, it should be more about going to honor your relationship with God than being a fashion parade. It's just that it's so far outside the realm of what I had in my mind as being "proper" churchgoing attire that it shocked me a bit.
Well, the good news is that I have plenty of options in my closet for next Sunday. And no, I will not be wearing flip flops. :) Oh, and in case you were wondering, that parking lot finally did fill up about 2 minutes before Mass was to begin. I left at 5 after nine, and some lady looked at me like it was Christmas when I opened up that front row spot for her late self.
Better late than never (for both of us)!
Labels: about me