Thursday, August 13, 2009

What is Worldly?

For 35 years I endured life feeling as conspicuous as an Amish girl. The first 19 years in a small Weslyan Holiness church. The clothes weren't quite as severe or plain however, and I was always grateful that we didn't have to wear any kind of head covering; white, black or hankie variety. Whew! I think as much as I hated the rules, it was familiar and the only thing I knew. We didn't have a concept or awareness of our insides being the important thing. We truly felt like looking strange was a silent evangelistic tool. No one was drawn to us, our church or God by this, however.

A plain watch was acceptable in the church I grew up in. Wedding rings were not. Nylons had to be worn at all times from puberty on. Uncovered legs might insight lust in men. Naked legs labeled a girl as a Jezebel. Sleeves couldn't be above the elbow, hemlines below the knee. Mini skirts were in, so while mom measured our dresses we would scrunch our knees, hitch our shoulders; anything to make the hemline shorter. Dresses that became too short needed the hem taken down, which left a faded mark in the fabric. Braid or trim sewed over the top of this line was supposed to hide it, but just drew attention to it. Hair wasn't supposed to be cut. Make-up and jewelry and pants made you a backslider. Rock 'n roll caused pregnancy. Smoking, drinking, drugs, and cussing were unmentionable. Using slang could raise disapproving eyebrows. The first and only time I heard my mom say 'darn', the earth shook! Slang was almost as serious as cussing.

Getting left behind to endure the tribulation made us terrified to come into the house with nobody home, thinking it had already happened. Alter calls week after week were a cruel joke. The young people went up over and over again to 'get saved', which was a grueling process. The more snot, tears, and length of time on your knees, the more hope everyone had that it would work this time. After you 'got saved', soon after you had to 'get sanctified'. Getting sanctified meant that the root of sin would be forever taken out and you would be pure, live pure, live a sinless life. The pure sinless older people would sit in pious, sanctimonious pride while us young people went down that long isle over and over again week after week. It didn't seem to work for us as well and we were too honest to pretend. It was agony. It was fertile ground to live a double life in order to survive and be accepted. So many gave up on God, instead of the falseness of man made religion.

One Irish women evangelist who came for 'revival meetings', made her dresses out of dark thick wool, used the same pattern for all two of them and wouldn't use buttons. She was afraid of attracting men. As young as I was, it made no sense, because she was as homely as an inbred horse! She made it clear that all of us should follow her example. No one did - we were different enough already! God would have had to send us a personal letter, with a stamp on it through the mail, letting us know first.

TV, bowling, sports, movies, glee club, etc were banned. Dancing wasn't done. I remember asking my maternal grandmother to dance with grandpa. It would have been wonderful to watch them. Before she became zealously religious, they were champion couples' roller skaters and dancers. She piously refused to indulge in such worldly behavior to amuse us. I can only imagine how graceful they were. Inside me, there is a dancer - for when music of almost any kind comes on I feel the rhythm in the air and want to move. It makes me break out in a cold sweat and want to faint as I begin............

I spent hours taking the ends of my hair and flipping them over my forehead to make them look like bangs. Bobby pins, barrettes and beads tied to a loop of string would be fastened on my ears to imagine how earrings would look and feel. In secret of course!

Baby sitting for my older sisters and their worldly friends was so fun. They had left home and didn't follow the rules which meant that their dressers were full of make-up and fancy clothes. They had a TV, which allowed me unrestricted hours of programming, watching everything possible without discernment. The children I was supposed to be taking care of were completely neglected I'm afraid. The mascara, blush and lipstick disappearing so fast was probably a great mystery. Scrubbing it off before they returned, without any telltale signs, was tricky.

Once in a while during a revival, Brother Johnson would run laps around the church by stepping on the backs of the pews. We held our breath, waiting for a misstep which never happened. He called it 'gettin' blessed'. One older women would wave her hankie and wail and wail and WAIL. Gettin' blessed had all sorts of strange manifestations. It was interesting and entertaining all at the same time. Our little church didn't do the falling, get pushed or 'slain in the spirit' thing. Neither did they believe in speaking in tongues. Healing was huge though! Even though I believe strongly in supernatural intervention and know God does choose to heal, it doesn't resemble in any way the manipulative drama and disappointment of those healing services. It was sickening, like some of the circus- like, snake- oil acts now days.

One pastor's wife had 4 little girls all in a row. She was frazzled, miserable, looked abused and wretchedly endured her extremely obese life. She would grab 2 girls with each hand, almost yanking their shoulders out of the socket and drag them around making them obey her every command. Their names were always used in sequence from the oldest to youngest. CARRIE, RACHAEL, LARINA, RHODA.........harp, harp, harping with a fierce frown. They'll never have a torn rotator cuff, from the callouses and scar tissue in their shoulders!

The Gaither's were just going public at this time. Old fashioned hymns were the norm before the Gaither's changed all that with rousing choruses. They were refreshing. I'll never forget a small concert we went to. It was the first time I remember a crowd spontaneously getting to it's feet during a song, without any cue. When they got to the chorus of 'The King is Coming" every one stood respectfully, giving silent obeisance and honor. It gave me goosebumps and caused me to look down the isle towards the back door expectantly waiting for him to burst through.

Life is ironic. I can buy all the make-up I want, but very seldom wear any. Any jewelry I have is plain sterling silver and never changed. I had my hair short for a long time, now am letting it grow out a bit. We have a TV, which doesn't interest me in the least other than using the DVD player for movies. There were times when my emotions and wretchedness caused me to be harsh and abusive with my children. They have forgiven me. I have so much compassion for people who are driven into hiding and living a double life ~ hoping desperately for them to live in complete freedom someday. When I feel overcome or 'get blessed' - I'm alone with my Maker, it's quiet, private and intimate. And someday......... someday I'm gonna dance with complete wild abandon like the juicy, succulent woman I am!

Never once since I boycotted pantyhose has any man turned into a savage beast over my naked legs! Darn. Shoot. Dang. Blast it. Bummer. Hang it all.

Don't even start to raise that eyebrow, sister.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's those Worldly sun tanned legs! Makes it look like you got hose on!

Mr Loverby