About five years ago, I made a conscious decision not to wear mascara to church. The music portion of our service was so beautiful that it repeatedly brought me to tears, and rather than have black tears streaming down my face, I decided to forego mascara applications altogether. Not long thereafter, I attended a women’s conference in my hometown. It was one of those events that took your breath away at every turn. God was evident in every detail – the speakers, the music, everything. By the end of the third day, my spiritual cup was overflowing. Although tears had slowly trickled down my face at various moments during the conference, by the end of the third day, an all-out cry fest took place. I was completely uninhibited. I was in awe of God’s goodness, all he had done in my past, how he cared about all of us in that room, and filled with excitement about his plans for my future. I just let loose, and it didn’t matter to me that I would be a red-faced, sweaty mess, thereafter. May I be honest? It was the first time I had cried in church unconcerned about how I appeared to others in a very long time.
So what’s the point of the story? Am I saying that wearing mascara to church is wrong? Of course not. I love makeup. I love high heels and beautiful blouses. I love a new haircut, a sparkly-pocketed pair of blue jeans, and great new boots. And I do not think there is anything wrong with any of those things. But when the shirt covering our hearts becomes more important than the purity therein, it is a major problem. When the heart that graces our inside is less important than the new necklace draped across its outside, we are in dangerous territory.
Today, I am invited to women’s conferences all over the country to speak and encourage other women. It is a great honor to do so and I spend many hours preparing for what I might share. Admittedly, I also put thought into what I will wear. During a recent out-of-town event, I was scheduled to speak on a Friday morning, but I arrived early on Thursday evening to attend the opening night of the conference. The women’s minister (and pastor’s wife) greeted me, and I was in awe of how beautiful she looked. Her hair was impeccable. Her clothes were neat and fashionable. She was a gem, for sure. And then, the most beautiful thing happened. Worship began and we spent the next two hours singing songs to our King. And do you know what that beautiful woman did? She took off those high heels and kneeled to the ground, then later, fell to her face in free worship and adoration of the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Tears flowed down my face, once again. It was in the moment that I thought, “we all need to just get back to the basics.”
For years, I was always taught that we bring our very best before God. Many in my life translated that to mean that men wore full suits and women adorned beautiful dresses and pantyhose, as this was considered the very best. Then, I transitioned into a church that was much more casual with jeans and t-shirts worn on most Sundays. Which is right? What about the homeless man with no shoes? What does he wear?
My answer to you is that it is “all” right as long as motives are pure. If your desire is to put on a pant suit or full-length church dress because you believe that brings honor to your Savior, then, please do so. But be careful not to pass judgment on the young mom across the aisle who wears jeans and a tattered t-shirt. Spend more time preparing your heart for the message that the pastor will be bringing, rather than ironing your attire. Spend more time praying for the worship leader, rather than choosing just the right jewelry for your Sunday outfit. And above all else, bring with you a pure heart, ready to gather in the King’s house and welcome all in, regardless of how they are dressed.
Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on single moms and womens’ issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who has a God-given passion to see women walking in total freedom. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and has been featured in countless media venues.