Friday, August 30, 2013

Sneakers, Socks and Belts

I’m going to tell you a little secret.  Here it goes….I HATE Kylie’s sneakers.  Sorry.  This confession probably means I’m not the coolest, hippest mom in the world.  I don’t know why I hate them so much…..Perhaps they’re a little too “gangster, hip-hoppy” something for my taste.  I think they’re plain, old ugly.  Where does she get her style?  Besides, they are A LOT of work to put on.  I’m more of a flip flops kind-of-girl.  It takes this child like a year to lace these things.  Last Fall she tried these shoes on and I said no to her getting them.

Oh, her style! Hate the shoes, love her HEART for God!!
Parents, administrators and any one in authority over any child or teen, I ask you, why do you set the rules that you do?  Why do you say “no” as often as you do?  Is it because you like control or to exercise your authority?  Is it some kind of power trip?  Are your concrete rules based on your own preferences or agenda?….OR is it because the rules help the subordinate to become more like Christ?

When our son Brandon first came to the States from Ukraine we had to fight him every Sunday to put him in a shirt, tie, dress pants and belt for church.  He wasn’t aggressive with his dislike for “church clothing.” I could just tell by his fake smile and body language that he really HATED the way he looked in them.  He was more a jeans kind of guy.  After a few weeks of putting him in something clearly he hated, we finally decided, “What difference does it make what he wears to church?” In fact, we buried our son purposefully in jeans, NO BELT and sneakers. 
Brandon's fake smile. This Mama knew he hated his clothing

As a child myself who grew up in a fundamental, Baptist environment and one who upon graduation at 17 WALKED AWAY from the faith for a few years, I tell you plainly: Rules without a REASON breeds REBELLION and/or Rules without a RELATIONSHIP breeds REBELLION.

When it comes down to it, I do not care what style shoes our kids wear.  It does not matter what COLOR their socks are, or if there is a belt around their waists.  It does not matter if I do or do not prefer what they are wearing, as long as it is modest and the Holy Spirit would approve of the content on their garments. 

What I care about is their HEARTS.  I do not want my babies to experience the bitterness and rebellion that I went through.  I made a lot of poor choices that I will always regret.  I want to know more about their actions and attitudes. Are they living two different lives—a squeaky clean, rule book life on one side and a sneaky rebellious life on the other side?  Are they a true follower of Christ?

I read a book about Jonathan Edwards that I took notes from regarding Five Signs of True Followers of Christ (I wish I’d written down the title of the book).  Here they are:

1.     A true follower HAS a genuine and obvious LOVE FOR JESUS

2.     A true follower of Christ HATES SIN

3.     A true follower LOVES GOD’s WORD

4.     A true follower LOVES TRUTH

5.     A true follower LOVES OTHER BELIEVERS

Notice, there is nothing there that says anything about appearance or clothing colors.  When Brandon died, and I was questioning his conversion, I didn’t think about his appearance or clothing.  I wanted to know did he LOVE JESUS, HATE SIN, LOVE GOD’s WORD, LOVE TRUTH and LOVE OTHERS???  And the answer to all of the above is YES, he did! 

Written in Brandon's journal "I like Jesus"

I would caution anyone in authority from focusing too much on appearance and rules just for the sake of having rules.  Tim and I led a 6th grade “pre-youth group” back in Florida.  I will tell you the students that looked the sharpest and talked the sweetest to your face were the ones who were the most wild behind the scenes.  In my own youth group while I was a teen, the youth pastor’s favorite students who “looked the part” were the ones fornicating down stairs in the church basement.  Tim and I have chaperoned high school students before, and the most well-liked, smooth talking, squeaky-clean- on-the-surface, rule-following students are the ones who have walked away from the church. 

So anyway, Kylie has wanted these sneakers for over a year.  I finally caved.  I realized I had absolutely no reason to tell her no to the shoes other than my own personal disdain for the looks of them.  What is most important to me is that Kylie made a decision for Christ and there is evidence in her life that shows she is following Him.  Her Bible has an underline in purple pencil, “Your Word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11. 

This is Kylie's Bible opened up to Psalm 119, with the purple pencil underlining
"Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You."
Parents, Authority figures, I recommend what Matthew 23 teaches, “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will also be clean.” In other words, worry first about the hearts of the children, and the rest will hopefully fall into place.  Finally, maybe consider sacrificing your own personal tastes or opinions so you do not give a foothold to bitterness in the lives of those children.

There's my oldest girl and boy in their favorite jeans!! 


  1. Great post. We just started our daughter at private school and she keeps asking to wear zebra headbands etc. and I of course tell her no, dress code, etc. "But everyone else does" and I feel bad for saying no. What do you do if there is a dress code? What do you say when they are clearly pretty lax with the rules? I want to teach her to follow the rules even if no one else is. But I also hate saying no all the time.
    My daughters have also asked for shoes like your daughters and I say no too, so kudos to you for finally saying yes. 5 tween girls from Ukraine, their style is less than modest. We're working on them.

  2. If your private school allows zebra headbands, I'd go ahead an allow your daughter to wear zebra headbands. Our kids have a uniform they must wear. If they are allowed to and want to wear zebra headbands, we let them. It's their own expression of style and preference. If it is something as you mentioned "less than modest" we would say no, but our reason is to honor God, or so that a man/boy isn't looking at them in a wrong kind of way. We have 3 tween girls and I know how hard it is to find modest clothing that we as parents along with our daughters all agree upon, so we are learning not to sweat the smaller things like shoes, socks or headbands. Thank you for your comment. :)

  3. I agree. I have seen so many times kids acting as if they were all goody-goody and following all the rules, but secretly they had they dirtiest most God-dishonoring lives. Our boys don't wear belts unless their pants are about to fall off or when they go to church. It is not that they don't want to. I have just never made it a rule.I have never told them to tuck in their shirt unless we go to church. I guess I should, but mine is not tucked in as I sit here typing. I have seen so many people pick on the little things that they forget about God who should be at the top of everything we do. We should always be modest, like you said. So many people worry about the "speck" in a person's eye when they have a "beam" in their own eye. We do not want to drive our children away from God by being "nit picky". Thank you for pointing out yet again the importance of things in our lives. You always do is so beautifully. May the Lord continue to bless your family.

  4. Well said. Can I ask how come you walked away from your faith, and more importantly, how you came back?

  5. I don't like this style, either, but my Kye wants them too. There are two girls I would buy these for (Kylie and Lilly) and two girls I would say "no" to (Oksana and Emily). For me, it comes down to the attitude they have about themselves (looking cool) once they put it on. Oksana was adopted 4.5 yrs ago and is doing much, MUCH better now. I let her wear many "cool" things but she knows that she ALWAYS has to wear a tank top underneath those "cool" tops. Emily - no way, no how. In fact, I just went through her closet and took away any piece of clothing that I knew made her feel "cool" on the inside and that's all she focused on, to be "cool/popular". That's just to answer your question as to why I would say "no". :) Always trying to have them focus on their heart, not their appearance. :)