SUITED TO THE OCCASION

In every part of the world, in every culture, being dressed to suit the occasion is an accepted custom, an in-built trait and a common etiquette of even the most primitive tribes.

How we would dress to attend a wedding is different from dressing for a funeral. What we would wear for a party is not the same as what we would clothe ourselves for shopping or sightseeing. Hiking and trekking require special parnephelia that is not the same as when we swim or run or jog. Working at home means we must dress to enable chores such as cooking or washing or cleaning, while working from home, a recent development due to covid, needs other suitable attire. Business meetings and office space require appropriate appearance and outfits, not to mention sleep time which needs right clothes that would promote rest and repose.

Dress sense and fashion consciousness does not relate only to haute coutre designs but also to insight and acumen needed to know and note the occasion for which the apparel is being worn!

No one goes to visit the poor or does slum cleaning or other community work in their best clothes since it would hurt the cause and wound  the sensibilities of those we seek to serve. It is not good breeding to go to honor the dead in flashy clothes or gaudy show , but one must wear what fits the somber mood of the occasion and the sentiments of those around. We don’t go before a dignitary dressed in a way that would show disrespect to their persona nor attend a personal award function in rags. Again, no one dresses in wool in summer or thin cottons in winter, for that is foolishness to say the least!

Each and every season, occasion and focus demands suitable garments and appropriate or fitting apparel. So, fashion is stated as prevailing style (as in dress) during a particular time, custom, usage, or style as well as a form of self-expression and autonomy at a particular period and place and in a specific context, of clothing, footwear, lifestyle, accessories, makeup, hairstyle, and body posture. Being fashion conscious implies being able to match your tastes and interests to your personality and the occasion you dress for or being groomed for.

It is interesting to note that the Bible does talk about how one ought to dress and the manner to be suited for different occasions.

In the Old Testament, God instructed the people of Israel on different dress styles for the various people, according to gender, office, the task and the occasion.

The High Priest and other priests had definite robes and special garments made for use in ministering to God: “Have Aaron your brother brought to you from among the Israelites, along with his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, so they may serve me as priests. Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron to give him dignity and honor.” (Exo 28:1‭-‬2 NIV). They could not wear that would make them sweat as its smell was reminiscient of curse and therefore, repugnant to the Lord (Eze 44:18).

God also gave specific dress codes for men and women, as well as instructions on not to mix linen and wool, etc (Deut 22). He showed them what to wear to signify various expressions of solemnity such as repentance, sorrow and mourning (sackcloth and ashes). Teachers and other instructors of the law had a distinctive garment that made them conspicuous as to their vocation. Thus, God did indeed prescribe a particular fashion code for His people so as to distinguish them and set them apart as His particular followers from those around. I believe that His demands were also given keeping in mind for them to be in tune with the weather and their environment to preserve their health!

When you read the New Testament, the focus is more on the inward orientation and the clothing of the soul that is required as the followers of Christ. It was not enough to dress up the outward, but the inner being had to line up to the truth of what is being exhibited on the outer. Jesus very specifically condemned the Pharisees and Sadduccees, naming them white-washed sepulchers, for projecting a false picture of piety and sanctity, when in reality their inward was rotten.

The leaders and apostles of the early church, steadily and constantly taught the disciples of Christ the importance of being clothed with the right attitudes and intentions (Col 3:1-15). They also instructed on the right demeanor for each occasion and event. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep, says the Holy Book in Rom 12:15. In Jas 5:13-14 it says: Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master.

Being well-dressed or clothed tastefully is not about just buying the best available or the costliest you can afford or the brand on display. It is about being a wholistic human being, in and out, the outer coinciding with the inner. The way to dress to impress is to clothe the outer to adorn and exemplify the inner orientation. Good nature enhances and amplifies the outward adornment causing an aroma of innate fashion to be felt and smelt!

*Pic courtesy https://images.app.goo.gl/E7ZdrDymmGR7SZUr8  unsplash.com and Shutterstock

This is part 4 of a series of articles relating to fashion sense and dress code. You can read part 3 using this link https://sabinatagoreimmanuel.com/2022/09/07/fashion-sense-and-sensibility/

TEEN TIME TENETS & TECHNIQUES

The real crux of parenting lies in the way we grasp and understand the nuances of it, especially how it differs from marriage. 

The basic tenet of the marital relationship is that it is one of growing interdependence, which is the real core to becoming one, not just in flesh, but in every way.  The growth in marriage lies in knowing and realizing that it is important and necessary to give up individualism if the two are to become a couple, a family, and a community.  The order in marriage, as laid out by the Apostle Paul in Eph 5, is for this transformation to happen in truth and spirit, so that Eccl 4:11-15 and Matt 18:18 become a reality!

In contrast is the parental relationship, for it is one of growing independence, wherein the child grows and moves from total dependence on the parent(s) to one of increasing freedom. From holding the child tightly in hand, to letting him or her stand on their own two feet, to taking baby steps, to begin running slowly, pick up speed and finally, even move out of control and purview. As the child matures, both physically and psychologically, the real crux of parenting lies in holding two things in balance – insisting on dependence and releasing to exercise independent choices. 

The greatest need and skill of parenting is to know and understand when to hold and when to let go, when to demand and when to acquiesce, and when to decide for them and when to allow them to decide.

GREATEST NEED: Teenagers especially need the freedom, space and time to experiment and experience life, as it comes to them, and not as we want them to have it. Teen time is a season to learn to flex muscles, stretch wings and exercise own choices. Teenage is a phase to shrug off childhood, as a tree sheds its old leaves, and don on the garb of an adult. 

Teenage is a transition stage that is quite a scary because of much uncertainty and instability one faces in this time. Teenage brings changes in physique, psyche and pneuma that is truly terrifying since it is all new and unknown. It is an age when the person is trying to find their feet, test their mettle and seek their place in a very harsh and unforgiving world. The world around, however, doesn’t sympathize with their struggles or condone their mistakes, but demands much from them, and that too very early, before they are ready. This is the reason teens gravitate towards their own kind as they look for security, stability and affirmation.  Teens always need and seek out safe environments and secure companionship where they can vent out their frustrations and longings without fear of being bracketed or branded as rebellious.

Unfortunately, at a time when they need the greatest understanding and most acceptance, they get the greatest rejection and extreme ridicule, especially at home. Parents are the prime defaulters in this since they expect either too much or too little from them. Instead of finding the home a haven of rest or a harbour of peace, they most often find it to be an unwelcoming and unpalatable place to be. They feel like strangers and aliens with their own parents and family, and therefore, opt to be with friends. They become silent, sullen, and withdrawn or aggressive, loud-mouthed, and destructive. 

GREATEST GIFT: Parents are flabbergasted at this sudden change of their child from a loving cherub to a vocal adolescent and therefore, are often clueless to handle this seeming stranger in their home. Even Jesus parents did not know how to handle him when at the age of twelve he decided to stay back in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-50)!

The reason parents are unable to comprehend a teen is that we do not understand or accept that the greatest gift God bestowed on human beings is freewill. God gave us this gift and He respects the choices we make by exercising our freewill, even when we hurt Him (just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden in Gen 3). God honors and respects our freewill, but works to transform us in a way that will not trample over or violate His own gift. If God Himself does it, we also need to imitate Him.

We must accept that our children have been created to have the right to exercise their freewill and train them on how to use it rightly. We must always remember that our children have life of their own and learn to accept them whether they are following us or choosing to carve out their own life in their own way. We must respect the exercise of their freewill so that they learn to take responsibility for their choices and become wise.

Most teens in India play the blame game, conveniently foisting guilt on to parents for what they do, just because we haven’t allowed them to face the consequences of their decisions. We often step in and bail them out of thorny situations of their own making, thinking it is an exhibition of love. True love is willing for the child to learn so that he or she may grow to be mature and strong. Passage into adulthood is all about learning how to correctly exercise freewill and bear the cost of what your choices bring.

GREATEST LEARNING: Parenting teens is all about allowing them to experiment with choices and experience the result of them, the good and bad, within the safety of our home, our care, and our protection. It is about teaching them to develop acumen for decision-making and equipping them for a home of their own. It is helping them acquire skills needed to survive and succeed in this world, without getting swollen up with victories nor swallowed up by failures. It is enduing them with resilience and resistance to handle relationships and responsibilities that go with intimacy and familiarity. It is equipping them to deal with protocols and strictures expected of adults, as well as learning how to wade their way through life’s myriad circumstances. 

A parent whose goal is to train will ignore infractions and temper tantrums as they are concentrated on fitting the teen for adulthood, not on winning a battle against thrm. A teen parent is a coach, not a rival of their child, seeking to empower to play the game. Parents need to develop a reserve of strength and stamina to bear with the mood swings, temper squalls and failure patterns of their progeny. They must fully concentrate on the making or shaping of the boy/girl into manhood/womanhood. This attitude will enable you not to waste time in wallowing in self-pity or indulging in anger displays since you are focused on the end result. You will be one who looks beyond the present to the future and see where or what your child should be, rather than who or what they are now.

Be careful of your thoughts and words in this season of parenting for they can help or harm your child if you are not in control of these two things. Many a child gets marred and scarred for life because we have been so impatient and infuriated with them that we speak hurting words in a bid to spur them on. 

GREATEST SUPPORT: Crucial to this period of parenting is the need to have a community of people around who will help you tide over this season with their own prayers and encouragement. These need to be people with whom you can download your woes, share experiences, rejoice over triumphs and weep over misdemeanors. They will bolster you with wise counsel and when you have a trusted few to vent the hurts your teen unwittingly and unknowingly inflicts on you, it will help you to go on living with positivity and grace. 

It is important in this season to not allow other people’s words and opinions impact you in such a way as to put fear rather than faith in you.Your teen needs protection from other people’s criticisms and complaining, and so avoid putting down your teens or exposing their faults in public. Their ego is very fragile at this time and so can easily be hurt if too much negativity is around. Learn to act and not react, especially to other people’s comments, showing compassion, foreknowledge, and hope. 

If you are to survive this most trying period of parenting, prayer must be the very breath of your life and not an after thought. Bend your knee in prayer and submit your will to the Lord in humility and healing rather than in vindictiveness and vengeance,so that you receive grace to handle the situations as they rise. Without His help, both for you and your child, you cannot survive this period. So, make prayer and spending time with God a priority and a prerogative rather than a beginning- or end-of the-day event.

If you must love and tolerate your child in this period of life, you need to be filled with love through the power of the Spirit since you won’t ever be able to even bear with your child at this time. Receive from God all sustenance you need to sustain you as you help your child navigate through the murky waters of teenage to safe and solid ground if adulthood.

GREATEST CONSOLATION: Bolster yourself with the thought that this too shall pass and soon you and your child as well as your family will be whole again on solid ground. Stand in the side-lines as guide and coach, allowing your ward play the game, rather than making them puppets controlled by your strings. Let your child know that he or she has the freedom to come or not come to you and therefore, learn to accept them, their friends. Make your home a welcome place for them and their cronies so that they seek you and don’t make them run away by rejecting them with you well-meaning judgements and criticisms. 

Above all, trust God and walk in restful peace and quietness of Spirit so that your home is heaven not hell for your child. Take heart in the knowledge that He is sufficient for all and entrust your child to Him for He will keep until the end what you release into His Hand (…because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. 2 Tim 1:12 NIV). 

Remember they are His, not ours and therefore, be careful to exercise stewardship and not ownership over your child, expecting them to fulfill your dreams!

Just as the Pharaoh’s daughter gave Moses to his mother and told her raise him up for her, even so God has given us our child to raise for Him. When we are faithful to this call and this service, He Himself will reward us.

May we be those who receive His commendation, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Matthew 25:23 NIV.

God bless!

*Pics courtesy https://www.parentcircle.com/

FASHION SENSE AND SENSIBILITY

According to Britannica, fashion is best defined simply as the style or styles of clothing and accessories worn at any given time by groups of people.

Fashion sense means having an instinct for how clothes look when worn together and how those clothes can make an outfit that both looks good and expresses something about you. Fashion sense is not about knowing any sort of formula or the absolute and only correct way to dress, but it is about knowing what suits you and fits you. The way you dress expresses who you are and in essence, contributes to your identity.

Shiona Turini, freelance stylist and consultant declares: Fashion is about storytelling through clothing; it’s about the stories behind them and the ones you create around them. It’s a cultural influence, backstory or intellectual touchpoint that you can trace back to what you’re wearing. We use it to escape the mundane, to embrace and celebrate tradition. It’s about a sense of history and pride and it embodies a greater sense of purpose than just a garment tossed on to cover bodies.

Fashion sense can be an inherent trait for some, an inherited skill for others, and an acquired learning for many. Fashion consciousness is not about adopting per se what you see or what goes on around you. It is about selectively identifying what enhances your personality and what strengthens your demeanor. Being fashionable does not mean you have to buy the best items or purchase only branded pieces, but it’s knowing what suits you and acquiring what is suitable for you. Fashion sense is not about conformity to the existing trend but an alignment of the inward and the outward to give a pleasing overall effect that impacts quietly.

For a Christian and a follower of Christ, fashion sensibility does not mean adhering just to the latest trends of clothing and makeup, but it involves an adorning that reflects the nature of Christ.

Apostle Peter well articulates this when he advises the women: Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.

His advice is not confined to women alone but to the men too: In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered (1 Peter 3:3‭-‬7 NLT). Even though these passages seem to indicate the conduct of married folks, yet it is clear, that for a disciple of Christ the inward should be commiserate with the outward.

Jesus Christ’s warning about elevating the outward show over the inward condition should sensitize anyone to the standards expected: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matt 23:27‭-‬28 NIV).

He balances this instruction with another to the crowds that followed Him about on when, how, where and why you should strive to keep up appearances: “When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well (Matt 6:16‭-‬18 MSG).

The message is clear – a Christian’s inward orientation should add depth and character to their outward manifestation, but it is also important that their physical appearance should serve to conceal and dignify their inward sacrifices. Image is indeed important, especially when involved in the disciplines of faith, but it should augment and aid the internal rather than mask or cover up lack of reality.

Fashion acumen, thus, is not just about wearing costly dress or using brand items or being decked excessively. It is about garbing yourself in a way that unconsciously uplifts and upholds you to hold your own wherever you are. The right dress and accessories, not necessarily the costliest, will always polish and project you in a way that will make others take a second look or go wow. Real fashion sense will help you make a statement without meaning to or striving for, but naturally, in a matter-of-fact manner, especially when it is bolstered by a good sense and decent nature!

Fashion trends should not camouflage or inflate value, but fashion sensibility should serve to add value to deportment and dignity to comportment!

It is important to be a fashion trendsetter, not only in clothes, but also in conduct and conversation!

More importantly, as the expert pointed out, what is the story you are hoping to tell through your fashion statement?

What is the history and tradition you are seeking to illustrate through your fashion taste?

Finally, what is the sense of purpose you are modelling through your fashionable look?

Do find the answer to these and you then will be the epitome of class and couture!

*https://repeller.com/meaning-of-fashion/ https://artsandculture.google.com/story/why-fashion-matters/_QKS0J-OeT7HIA
*Pic courtesy Shutterstock & Unsplash

A similar subject: https://sabinatagoreimmanuel.com/2022/08/16/dress-code-manner-mode/