The months that followed were a bit of a blur. Whisper’s newfound happiness was getting attention, and she had to figure out how to explain it. People would just walk up to her out of the blue and ask her what happened, because she looked like a different person. At the time, the simplest explanation that made the most sense (in the context of the teaching in her new church) was that she had finally surrendered herself to God completely. Yes, it felt a little “off” to put it that way… it was a woeful oversimplification at best… and a complete fabrication at worst. But Whisper didn’t know how to explain what had happened, so it didn’t seem like such a big deal to let people think it was something they could easily understand. She didn’t think there was any harm in letting it go at that. Especially since the being of love she had encountered that night was someone she certainly wouldn’t have hesitated to surrender to.
Whisper listened with rapt attention to the preaching at her new church. She was so excited to hear about God and study the bible! She soaked up the teaching like a sponge. Then she went home and read all the popular Christian books, careful to keep her mind open to whatever new ideas they might present to her… A life of trust was so simple! At first, she very rarely rejected an idea from a christian source, believing that God was moving everywhere, and might speak to her through anything, if she would keep an open mind and listen. Whisper bought all the books on godly womanhood that she could find- she quickly filled a bookshelf. Then she discovered “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” and started collecting books about courtship, modesty, and various other popular Christian topics. Whisper quickly became convinced that she needed not only to be a Christian, but to be a conservative Christian. More dedicated than the average “lukewarm” variety, and therefore closer to God. More than anything Whisper wanted to be close to God. One day Whisper overheard a glowing review of the book “Created To Be His Help Meet”… so she added it to her “must read” list.
After her experience, Whisper knew deep down that some of the things she started doing & believing were outright reactions to her “old self.” She thought that was a good thing! Happiness instead of misery was good! And it really was. But quickly, under the teaching she was now open to, independence was traded in for submission. Individuality traded in for femininity and “modesty.” Critical thought was replaced with “teachableness.” She willingly destroyed her secular CDs, and replaced them with hymns. Whisper’s parents started to get uncomfortable… what was happening to their daughter? WAS this their daughter?
Whisper left her old self behind. She didn’t really let herself think much about that “dark time” before (as she was told) “the light of the gospel shined in her heart.” Even the very event, the beautiful thing that had happened to her that night, was dragged out into the light, picked apart and labeled. That was her “conversion experience.” She quickly learned to define it all in the correct terms.
Whisper began to learn that, in her new church, there was more to outward appearances than she had thought. These people didn’t dress the way they did because it was comfortable. There was a specific meaning behind everything… either a verse of scripture or a “godly principle.” They dressed the way they did to be an example to the world- to truly be a shining light.
Whisper began her outward transformation… head coverings. There were SO many reasons to wear one! It wasn’t just a piece of cloth! It was commanded in scripture, as well as symbolic… and Whisper learned shortly after she put one on, there was a less publicized belief among some of the women that wearing a head covering entitled them to some sort of elite spiritual protection… That “the angels” spoken of in 1 Corinthians 11 were special guardian angels that provided an extra level of protection only to covered women. One woman confided to Whisper that she believed so strongly in the power of the head covering that she would never think of leaving her head uncovered for even a moment! Whisper was skeptical… what about taking a shower? The woman proudly explained that it was totally possible! One only had to cover her head with a washcloth, remove the veiling, and carefully wash her hair in the shower, being sure the washcloth didn’t slip off before she replaced it with a towel. A red light began to blink in Whisper’s mind… but not everyone was that superstitious! She let it go.
The more Whisper learned about the “practical outworking” of faith that all these works provided, the more careful she was to practice them. There were a few things she simply couldn’t swallow- she never found good reason to limit herself to wearing white coverings, or to get rid of small, unobtrusive pieces of jewelry that had special meaning to her- but she did her best to look like she was told God’s daughters looked… and she was happy to do it.
Some of the girls her age in the church were constantly making new dresses, and offered some of their older ones to Whisper when they had too many. So she began wearing homemade dresses sometimes when she went to church or went out. The preacher emphasized that, to people who REALLY loved God, being “set-apart” was very important. He even liked the King James term, “peculiar people.” Whisper never felt so “peculiar” as she did when she was wearing a homemade dress. Sometimes she felt a bit too set apart… uncomfortably so. She was told that God wanted her to be so radically set apart for him that everyone would notice! So she tried, and people did.
People stared at her. Strangers walked up to her and asked about her clothes. She was told that their questions were opportunities that God wanted her to use to witness to them! So she tried. And tried. And tried. It was frustrating. It seemed like a huge jump in logic from, “Why do you wear that weird thing on your head?” to talking about Jesus. She could make a connection between the head covering and the bible anyway… so she just started quoting the verses that talked about it whenever someone would ask, and praying that God would somehow “open their eyes” and show them the connection between her clothes and his love for them… because even she didn’t see it.
Whisper trusted that these people knew what they were talking about. She trusted them because she trusted God. No matter what God wanted her to do, she’d do it! And it was so convenient that the moment she put her trust in God, he gave her the gift of these people to guide her into his ways! She trusted and she’d keep trusting.
Even if it meant being “peculiar”…