I always loved Sunday mornings. Up early, my hair pinned and primped with frizz tamed. Long skirts that flowed around my ankles or knee-length ones, paired with colored tights and high heels. It was often the only day of the week that I wore makeup, not overly done but a bit of eyeliner and face powder to make myself presentable.
I loved seeing friends and family, singing, playing piano, talking for hours after the service…
Yet, somewhere in the turning of time a sliver of something ugly began to creep into my heart. In the midst of a society that was quickly becoming more and more relaxed in dress and interaction, I knew how to look and act acceptable. I became a proper-church-attender.
Oh, how I cringe at that truth.
I was always presentable. I always looked proper. I always sang the right notes and talked to the right people. I did everything right but something was very, very wrong.
Soon I was working full-time and doing ministry full-time. Tired is a pretty accurate word to describe that period of my life. I quickly learned that Sunday had to be a day of rest… but I had conditioned myself to make it a day of presentation.
I wanted to look and act how I thought in my head that everyone should look and act. But I no longer had the strength or fortitude to continue. I was tired of dressing up.
I mean that figuratively but also physically. I dressed up for work and then went directly into ministry-mode and spent all day in heels and pantyhose with my hair pinned up. I was exhausted and was sorely tempted to just start skipping church all together, even though I knew, so clearly, what Scripture says about not giving up meeting together.
I was wore right thin and when I went to God and said, “I can’t handle this much longer.” He told me a very interesting thing.
“Stop dressing up, Tasha, and just be with Me.“
For an entire year I wore jeans and a hoody sweatshirt to church. Comfortable. Soft. I wore slip on shoes and spent most of my time out of them.
It wasn’t about what I wore or didn’t wear at church. It was about stopping the presentation and stopping the sinful pride that had crept into my heart. It was about giving up my picture-perfect ideal and settling into the reality.
Reality was that I needed a day of softness and dressing down and just being with God. It was a time of soaking in tight and worshiping with abandon and giving up on any pretense of “looking right” and just leaning hard into Christ and my base need of redemption and grace.
It was the year I learned to be with God, right at church. Which might seem like a no-brainer, but for this church-attender-since-before-my-birth, it wasn’t.
I sat quiet in the back row, after a lifetime of front row sitting, and closed my eyes tight and only sang the songs that I believed in. I kicked off my shoes at the door, curled up with my feet under me on the bench, and prayed prayers of devotion and love to my God during the service.
I stopped teaching, stopped singing or playing piano on the worship team. I retreated, far back, and used Sunday mornings as a time to breathe deep.
Sometimes I even left. Slipped out softly and walked the streets of town, stopping to talk to people sitting on their porches or walking the same sidewalk as I. Often our conversation turned to the Creator and I was humbled right quiet by the holy worship I heard from these random people whose names I never learned.
Other times I would hide under the big apple tree in the church’s side yard and lean my head back, watching the way the tree limbs moved in the breeze.
I lived out the year and I built an altar. One of jeans and hoody sweatshirts and barefoot toes on the church carpet. One of softness and closeness and a God who whispers gentleness into my quiet moments.
He is a God who brings peace and rest into the midst of our busyness. And I had allowed my desire for approval from men to close my ears to His grace. How thankful I am that He never gives up on me.
I try to return to that altar at times. I leave my elegant skirts and colored tights and high heeled shoes at home. I slip into jeans or a hoody and break the mold of dressing up for Sunday mornings. Not out of disrespect for God, or as a judgement to anyone, but simply as a reminder of the time when I learned deep that God doesn’t look at outward appearance. He looks at the heart.
And what He desires most is a heart that is willing to stop the madness of presentation and simply be with Him.