A long time ago, it was tradition for confessions to be made to your entire church congregation. This was back when your church was filled pretty much solely with your family and neighbors, and was within easy walking distance of your home. From what I understand, this changed as more and more people from outside of these close knit and familiar communities came into the churches. I wonder just how much was lost with that change.
I’m writing this article because I feel that we have a lot to learn from each other’s personal experiences with acknowledging and working to overcome our sins. It’s my hope that others will read this and decide to join in, submitting a similar article of dealing with their own sin, either anonymously or under their own names. Each would be titled “My Sin is —“, and focus on one topic in particular.
My sin is vanity.
As I’ve grown closer to God, I’ve realized a lot of new things about the world and myself. One of these realizations is that it seems my greatest sin is vanity. For example, one’s thoughts when their child throws a tantrum in public should be focused on dealing with the tantrum, not on what others may be thinking of the situation. But I find myself having to consciously remind myself of this when it happens so I can act in a way that actually solves the root problem, instead of just minimizing embarrassment. It’s a quick lapse, a few seconds thought before righting my course, but it’s there. That feeling of embarrassment doesn’t go away. I could name many more situations than this, but there’s one in particular I’d like to focus on now because it’s simple.
A few episodes back on the Helicopter Mom podcast, we had a discussion on Christian head coverings for women, specifically while in church. I keep thinking that I should wear a veil of some sort to cover my hair. I’ve been working on modesty slowly in various ways already. I am still a fairly recent convert, and many women who are very pious and were born into Orthodox Christianity within my church family do not wear anything over their hair. A concern I keep coming back to is: If the purpose is to be modest and reduce distraction, is it defeating the purpose if my wearing one attracts attention?
I came to the realization that I’ve been coming at this from the wrong place to start with. I’ve been slipping back into thinking of this in terms of what I *look* like. Do I look modest enough? Will others see me as modest or as a convert trying to be ‘holier than thou’? Does it matter? This is the wrong way of thinking for many reasons, not the least of which is that true modesty is much more than not wearing skirts above the knee and foregoing makeup. It’s also about behavior, speech, and intention.
So then, where should I start? How about scripture:
“Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. 5But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.”
The Bible is pretty clear on this point, it seems. Why should I worry about being pleasing to the sight of those around me over that of God? It was after clearing my mind of my self consciousness and vanity for a brief moment that I decided to order a couple veils/head coverings from a shop via Etsy. Once they come in, I will no longer attend church with my head uncovered. I will stand before God wearing what scripture says I must.
Honestly, its maddening trying to constantly control how others perceive me. Like taking steps with the thought of how silly my too long strides may look from the outside, so I try to modify them if I’m in public. It’s not healthy. I must strive to overcome my vanity, for the sake of my soul and those around me. I must strive to focus on what I’m doing instead of how it looks from the outside. Total focus on the task ahead.
None of us can ever truly reach the ideal, but we are called to try.