Sunday, August 02, 2009

Sunday Best

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)!



Blogger Sweet Simplicity said...

I think it is great that you are thinking about going back to church! I love that you went to check out the fashion. You are such a girl. haha! I'm pretty traditional in my church wear and my husband will try to wear jeans every once and a while and I complain so much that he changes. I know it doesn't matter to God, but I think that if you are going to get dressed up to go to dinner or anything else then why wouldn't you dress up when you go to worship God? Just my opinion! :)
I attend a church that has all kinds of different types of people and I don't care what they are wearing. I'm just happy they are there. But I do care about what I am wearing. haha! Sorry for the novel!

5:43 PM  
Blogger kingsqueen said...

I think it's great that you are considering going also. I tend to think it has something to do with becoming a parent. That's the same feeling I got when I had my first. But it was still quite a while before we did finally start going and it's sort of been an off/on thing for us. Sometimes I still feel guilty about that.
However, in response to the clothing thing, I totally understand the wanting to be dressed right thing. What you did sounds totally like something I would have done. (I've emailed a pastor to ask once before visiting a new church! LOL. He was cool about it)
For the most part, I'm sort of glad about the not dressing up thing. I've noticed that the churches where everyone is dressy-dressy tend to be populated with a "snootier" breed of people. Not "my" kind of people at all. The "holier than thou" judgmental types. The ones that are going to look down on me and make me feel embarrassed about who I am. I don't know what the dressing up has to do with it, but it really seems that way to my husband and me. We have felt very uncomfortable in churches like that. So churches that have a mix of dressed up/dressed down people are really more "us". I think God's more interested in your heart anyway. :)

6:07 PM  
Blogger em said...

I think it all depends on your overall look. I have worn jeans to church, but with a nice sweater or shirt or something. I wouldn't wear a tank top. Ever.

6:44 PM  
Blogger mademoisellechitchat said...

God is love. Go as you are. If you don't have nothing but a clean pair of jeans to wear, do that. Just make sure that they are clean.

Love ya!

7:15 PM  
Blogger Samara Link said...

Yeah, people got way dressed for the church I grew up around. Women didn't even wear dress pants there. Skirts and dresses only. Ties. Dress shoes, etc. So, have you decided to go?

8:38 PM  
Blogger Wendy said... I read this post and wondered which church parking lot you were sitting in. Were you spying on me???? And then I tried to remember what I was wearing. I suddenly got self conscious!!!! LOL! Actually I was wearing a dress but I do wear jeans during the winter. Not fond of dresses when I'm cold!

2:00 PM  
Blogger Miss Anne said...

I attend regularly.
I say come as you are.
God loves you regardless of what you wear, how much money you have, what you look like, or what you have or haven't done.

He loves you no matter what.
Go. You'll be glad you did.


4:09 PM  
Blogger Hooptee said...

I'm a christmas eve attender (yeah, i'm still lazy). Anyway - my church is still dressy. I think it's because it's 75% gray haired little old ladies. They DO judge based on what others are wearing. Sounds like you've got a nice casual, accepting church to attend!

5:23 PM  
Blogger KK said...

This post is so funny! Love that you checked out the attire. I can explain a few things. It was only half full bc its summer. Just like school, churches tend to have a summer season. Many have fewer services during those months too. As for the attire, I am guessing it was a Catholic church? They tend (not all but many) be VERY casual. Jeans and flops casual. Not just during the summer months. Again, not all are this way. But it seems to more and more be the trend.

My advice would be to "taste" lots of different churches. Even if you were raised Catholic, go one Sunday to a Presbyterian church and Methodist the next. I have found that feeling a sense of belonging to a church has a lot less to do with the denomination or brand and more to do with the vibe you get from the service and the people sitting near you. I heard someone say once that if all the roads lead to God, it doesn't matter which road you take. If you don't like dressing up, you will never feel comfortable at a church where all the men wear sportscoats and ties. If you think the sermon is yawn-worthy, you will never be motivated to go each week. Good luck! It can take a good while to find just the right fitting church. But once you find it, it will become a place you love. A source of friendship and laughter. And of course God too!

10:09 PM  

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