Saturday, March 11, 2006

Shoes . . . and Fashion . . . and Spirituality

Am I really the only woman under fifty whose feet hurt? My new, custom-made insoles do wonders for me, but they mean that I have to wear sneakers everywhere. And I’m beginning to notice that NO ONE wears sneakers. Cute sandals (even in winter). Cute little skinny boots. But I am the only person running around in big, clunky white sneakers (the kind I begged my parents to buy me back in junior high—that you would wear with little pom-pom socks and a big-handled rubber comb in your back pocket). So is everyone wincing with pain or am I just old before my time? Couldn't we all just decide together that comfortable shoes are fashionable?

Fashion in General
And speaking of shoes, I know I am the least fashionable person in my ward. I know this because everyone else’s clothes are so ugly.

I remember when I was in junior high and I saw people who were still stuck in the 70’s. I felt so sorry for the poor nerds, with their center-parted hair and no bangs and wide-legged pants. I remember even pointing out one “nerd” to my cousin and being shocked to the core when she responded to me, “That isn’t very nice, Darlene. That person is a child of God, too.” (That brings up the subject of “What People are Ready For,” which I will discuss below.) I wasn’t really laughing at the poor woman, just feeling sorry for her inability to realize which decade we were in.

I know I have become that woman. I know that the young people can look at me and tell I grew up in the 80’s. I know because when I go shopping for clothes I can’t find anything that looks attractive to me. These wide legs! These brown colors! It's so--so 70's! When I get dressed for something important (like that paper I presented last week), I don't know what to choose because I am completely at sea about whether something is in style or not. The really scary thing is I am beginning not to care. Someone help me before it is too late!

What People are Ready For
So, when my cousin said that to me, I didn’t feel chastised, nor sorry. I just thought my cousin was weird. I thought she was actually kind of nerdy herself and out of touch. Like my friend who decorated her locker with pictures of Jesus. Just a little “out there,” you know?

But I saw a different side to that one day when someone asked me why I don’t listen to my 80’s modern rock music anymore—well, hardly any of it. I tried to explain to him how I had gone through a sort of conversion to the Spirit during college and had thrown out all of the music that I felt was offensive to the Spirit. It was extra hard to explain it to him because I knew that he still listened to most of the stuff I had decided was offensive, and that by explaining this to him I must appear as if I were judging him.

And, of course, I knew I looked kind of nerdy to him. Like a little “out there.” (I mean, more than just because my clothes were so desperately out of fashion.) For that reason--that I know it makes me look like a kook, I rarely tell people exactly how little TV and movies I can tolerate.

The funny thing is, if someone had preached to me back when I was a teenager about the music I was listening to, or the movies and TV I was watching, I would not only have thought them nerdy, I would have been offended. I NEVER would have felt corrected and then changed my behavior. I was too proud, maybe, or possibly just simply NOT THERE YET. I wasn’t ready.

I’m really glad to be able to look back and see how the Spirit has led me along. I have made adjustments when they were right for me. That gives me a lot of hope about my kids. Hopefully when they start listening to music I don’t like or can’t tolerate, I will be able to remember that they will grow up and someday hear the whisperings of the Spirit about what they are ready for.

That’s what’s a little scary about things like Relief Society lessons, where we all sit around and tell each other ways we can be even more and more righteous (fast twice a month! go to the temple weekly! no TV/homework/cooking on Sundays! no sugar!). Some people are ready for things; some are not. Some are prompted about things; some are not. Pushing our promptings on others never helps them.

What does, then?

Hmmmm. That’s worth another post, another day.

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