(The picture above is from https://www.garlandsofgrace.com/)
In a church where there are about 3,000 attendees, I have discovered that there is one way to stick out for sure: wear a headcovering.
When I first began to headcover, I felt so awkward and weird. I wanted to tell people that the only reason I had a scarf on my head was because it was cold outside. Nobody said anything to me the first day, but I did get some curious looks. You know, when you’re talking to someone, and instead of looking at your face, you catch them stealing glances at that thing on your head.
It’s been a couple of years since I started, as I write this. Most people have been very gracious in their conduct, either ignoring my different look entirely, or making some kind of benign comment, like “You remind me of my missionary friend in Greece.” One person yelled at me. One of the pastors never returns my friendly smiles of greeting and always seems to be pretending that there is something “over there” that he’s looking at. Why? I’m still in a mental tangle over that one. If they ever see me at church without my headcovering, some folks will come right out and ask, “So where’s your head thingy?” They’ve gotten used to seeing me that way, and I’ve gotten used to wearing it, but it’s still conflicting sometimes, inwardly. It’s hard to be the only one who practices this in my church. Yet, better to stay true to my conviction than to give in to the pressure of emotional insecurities.
Here are some of the things that I’ve learned:
- ABOUT MYSELF—
- I like to be liked. It’s hard for me to be different. I want to fit in.
- I’m determined. Even if I don’t fit in, I won’t give up my standards.
- I tend to resent it when other people don’t see things the way I do.
- ABOUT OTHERS—
- Most people are kindly tolerant of small differences in belief.
- Usually, people would rather say nothing than cause discomfort.
- Some people will show their acceptance of me by giving me a compliment, making some small observation, or asking me a question about my covering. This is rare, though.
- There are a few who are offended by my being different. They see me as legalistic; perhaps arrogant, too.
Discomfort and tension, I’m learning, reveal the person I am beneath the composure. For example, I hesitated to describe myself as tending “to resent it when other people don’t see things the way I do.” What am I, a bigot? Maybe I am, to a certain degree. But I might not have realized it if I hadn’t put myself in a position to experience friction. To deny my negative feelings would be dishonest; the only way to improve is to acknowledge my shortcomings, and do something about them. I am actively trying to transform my attitude toward others by focusing on generosity and humbleness.
Wearing a headcovering has also taught me something else: It’s easy to misjudge other people–until you’ve been there yourself. Let me illustrate what I mean. On several occasions, I’ve observed some very modestly dressed families while shopping at the grocery store. All the women wear cap-like headcoverings, which cover their hair pulled back into a bun. I’m not positive, but I’m guessing they’re Mennonite. The grown-up women smile back at me, and are generally very friendly. I have noticed, however, that one young woman, possibly in her teens, does not return my smiles. She doesn’t even look at me. At first, this was a puzzle. Was she arrogant? Did she think she was better than me? (Just to let you know, I was not wearing my headcovering in the grocery store–I only use it during church services, Bible study, and special times of prayer.) But now, I think I understand.
Think about this: when feeling awkward and embarrassed, some people will look at the ground. They feel so out of place they don’t even have the courage to lift up their heads and look you in the face. Then there are others, who will raise their heads to force themselves to be composed, when all they really want to do is hide. These people restrain their embarrassment by imposing upon themselves a dignified demeanor contrary to their unease. It’s not arrogance, it’s diffidence. It’s an attempt to overcome a lack of self-confidence while combating shyness.
I know that feeling! When I first started wearing a headcovering, I had to make myself look up at people’s faces. It wasn’t easy, because I felt so strange. But I eventually was (mostly) able to overcome those emotions, as I am confident that young woman I saw at the store will too, given time. However, I would not classify my experience as negative just because I’ve had to struggle with self-confidence; I have been given the opportunity to know myself better, and to grow.
Though my use of a headcovering is based solely on what the Bible itself teaches, I’ve found it very helpful to read other ladies’ blogs about this topic, and to familiarize myself with teachings on headcovering by various outstanding pastors. Being the “odd one” is stressful at times, so I continually reinforce my stance on this issue by deepening my knowledge about it. Here is one website that I have found VERY supportive, and instructive:
What convictions have you stood by in your life, that have made you stand out, and that have been a challenge for you to maintain? I’d love to hear your comments.
In the next post, I will tell you the reasons why I have chosen to use a headcovering. I can’t wait! Thanks for reading!