Saturday, January 24, 2015

What Has Come Over Me: Why I'm Wearing Head Covering

Before diving into this post, I think it is good to revisit the verses that speak to headcovering1 Corinthians 11:5-6, 10, and how I am applying them to my life right now.
"And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head-it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head...the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head."
There is much discussion about whether this is saying that women should cover their head with an artificial covering, or if the text is referring to long hair. There is much discussion about whether the text is speaking only to the Corinthians to whom Paul was writing, or if these instructions apply to us in modern times. There is much discussion about whether it is saying that women should wear head coverings only in church, or at all times. Originally, I felt, for myself, that I am called to covering my head with an artificial covering during worship, Bible study, and quiet prayer time. I think the text clearly says that we are to cover our heads when we are praying or prophesying. I feel that means that any time I am praying at all, whether in corporate worship or private, my head should be covered. I started out by just covering my head during quiet time, then added Bible study and church, but now, I am switching to wearing a head covering full time, because 1 Thesselonians 5:17 says, "pray without ceasing", and the verse in 1 Corinthians says we should cover our heads when praying. I now feel called to cover my head full time. I have been absolutely enthralled with this idea since I stumbled upon it, as you may know from my previous blog posts.

A precious friend recently asked me what happened that I suddenly felt called so strongly to submission and head covering. My immediate response was that my marriage was at a crucial point, and something drastic needed to take place in order to ensure it survived. This is a very accurate claim. Although my husband absolutely did some things that were not without fault, my pride had become so overrun that I completely overshadowed my husband's leadership, and he felt completely undermined, not only as the leader of our family, but as a member of it, in general. I recognized this, partially because he told me he felt that way, and sought out information on how to remedy this problem. I stumbled upon submission and headcovering. I immediately implemented the practices, and saw immediate changes in my marriage. I am still astounded every day by the changes I have seen in my husband, my children, and myself. It has absolutely been worth it for that reason alone. 

I believed from the beginning that following these two very specific commands-wives, submit to your husbands, and women, cover your heads during worship- would result in change. I did not, however, anticipate that it would lead to my breaking through a plateau I've been stuck on in my walk with God. 

I asked Jesus into my heart when I was 6 years old. Except for a few years in my 20's (I've worked through them, I know they are redeemed), I have always believed and sought to glorify God with my life. I've always longed to live the sort of life that is actually changed by my relationship with God. I know I am called to be different from the world. I cannot get this passage out of my head, describing how I am meant to live:

"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.' Therefore, 'Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.' Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, 7:1
Here, Christians are called to be separate from non-believers. Now, I don't think that means that we should completely isolate ourselves from non-believers. How else could we live out the Great Commission? But we are not to yoke together with unbelievers. To yoke is to join two things together, to unite, couple, or link. I read several commentaries that referred to yoking with a non-believer as stepping into a snare. It is difficult to perfect holiness when we have united with someone who is not pursuing the same. Chances are we will subject ourselves to things that contaminate the body and spirit if we are spending the amount of time with someone required to be yoked, or united, with them. Yes, we are to minister to those who are in need and show love and compassion to all, but we do not need to be immersing ourselves in the culture that non-believers come from. I know this sounds naive to some people. I know that we all have to live in the same neighborhoods, go to the same grocery stores, and play at the same parks. But, I don't feel that we have to join with one another on intimate levels. 

I want to live like I'm changed by Jesus. I want to live differently from the world. However, I have gotten stuck. I have found it very difficult, since I asked Jesus into my heart, to be in the same world as non-believers, or even those who do believe, but don't feel called to live according to the Bible as strictly as I do, and not yoke myself to them. I have found it difficult to purify myself from everything that contaminates my spirit while living in the world with everyone else. Some of my biggest struggles are gossiping and reacting to situations with anger or fear before bringing them to God. Much of my Christian life has been spent just trying to gather the strength to be different from the world. I plead and ask God to help me not desire to gossip. I constantly have to ask for forgiveness for giving in to my flesh. I go to women's conferences year after year where I get a new dose of "fire for God", and come home vowing to do it right this time. I go out into the world day after day, trying to be different, but failing. It is causing me to be stuck in my walk. 

In 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, Paul says: 

"Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit, but as people who are still worldly-mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly.
The fact that I am having the same conversations with God year after year tells me that I am still an infant in Christ. I am still worldly. I have been drinking spiritual milk for far too long. I am not ready for solid food. Please don't misunderstand me; I do believe that God is working in me. I would not have gotten to this place of desiring solid food if He had not been pushing. But, much of the Bible exhorts us to make changes in our behavior and lives. I have free will. I have to physically do the thing. I know God is right there, and once I start taking that step, He's there to catch me, cheer me on, and carry me if needed, but unless I take action, I'm going to stay put. He won't leave me, but we will stay put until I decide to take a step.

That's where submission and head covering come in. They are my first step toward being ready for solid food. I have found it impossible to go out into the world looking just like everyone else without feeling the way they do, too. This keeps me in the cycle of always giving in to the flesh, always having to ask for forgiveness for the same things, always needing spiritual milk, and never being ready for solid food. 

The first problem that had to be dealt with was my relationship with my husband. It has become common in our culture for women to be the leaders of their families, and like it that way. They feel that their husbands act like chidlren, and they are unafraid to slander him to their friends. They believe that they can talk to their husbands however they want, and that their husbands should obey them. Being immersed in this culture, I began to find it difficult to not feel that way as well. I was continuously hurting my husband with my words and actions, smearing his name to my friends, and continually having to ask God to help me fix my marriage. That is partially how my husband and I got to a bad place. My solution to that, as stated before, was to actively practice submission. Just deciding to do this has purified me and required me to trust God more than ever before. I have had to silence myself when in groups that bash their husbands. I have had to practice self-control to not argue with my husband when he's made a decision I didn't agree with. I have had to swallow my pride and put my needs before his. I have had to ask God to help me do these things, because I cannot do them on my own. I have gone deeper. I have stepped closer to God. 

Likewise, growing my hair out and covering my head have helped me "come out from" the worldly. When I cut my hair last April, I was knee deep in needing constant encouragement and spiritual milk. I was trying to look like everyone else; in fact, cutting my hair so short was edgy enough that it pushed me to another level of looking like everyone else. Short hair is a symbol of power and independence. It was hard to not participate in the way these independent people do things, too. As I've started to wear a headcovering, I have found that it is less hard to not participate in those things which contaminate my body and spirit, such as gossiping and reacting rashly to situations. 

In July of 2014, my pastor gave a sermon about not living the way the world does, and he referenced this passage from Proverbs 6:16-19: 
"There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers." 
I realized that I do several of these things pretty regularly. No, I don't lie a lot, I don't shed innocent blood, but I would say I was often guilty of haughty eyes, a heart that devised wicked schemes, feet that were quick to rush into evil, and stirring up dissension. Now, I know I am hard on myself. I'm sure I am not the most haughty-eyed person that has ever lived. But, I felt very convicted about these things, and I could not seem to stop them, no matter how hard I prayed or how much trust I was putting in God. When I went out into the world, I found it next to impossible to keep from doing these things. 

Headcovering came from a desire to show submission. It has done that, but in addition, it has given me a reminder of what I am called to as a Christian. The other day, I was in the bathroom at work, and I was a little frustrated about something, and I could feel myself getting huffy. As I was washing my hands, muttering something under my breath, I looked in the mirror and saw my head covering. Suddenly, a sense of calm came over me. "Oh, that's right," I thought. "I am a daughter of the One True King. I am called to more than this." I asked for forgiveness and help right there, and moved on with my day, with God as my leader. I did not go down the trail that would have led to haughty eyes and dissension. This little piece of cloth on my head is helping me to focus my eyes on Him all the time. This little thing that originally came about as a way to help my marriage is helping me in my walk with God. It is helping me move past those struggles that are keeping me tied to spiritual baby food. 

I know that God would not have had me attend a small group where we talked about submission, or pointed me in the direction of The Peaceful Wife's post called, I Want to Follow My Husband, What if He Doesn't Lead?, or urged me to give up control of my family if He didn't intend for me to do it. I know that He wouldn't have had me feel so compelled by the post A Long Lost Secret of God to Strengthen Our Prayer Lives and Marriages if He did not intend for me to explore it. I have searched it out, I have read what the Bible says about it, and I believe to my core that this is what I'm supposed to do. Psalm 19:7 says:
"The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statues of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple."
I believe this. I believe that God's directions are perfect. They are trustworthy. They are reviving my soul. They are making me see that the more simply we can live, the more wise we are. I have not been pushed into this headcovering practice by an overbearing, power-crazed husband, or by a church that believes women are meant to sit quietly and behave. I have sought my God. I have stepped out in faith and obedience, and He is transitioning me from spiritual milk to solid food. What has happened, what has come over me, is the awesome grace, peace, and love of my God, as I have submitted my ways to Him. 


Misty said...

How incredible!!! I personally can verify that I've seen the gracious amazing ways God blesses me when I've obeyed Him and waited for His best...but I never once thought about how God would open up new pathways for you through your obedience. I wish I had thought to ask, "Tessa, what new things are breaking open as you practice this new obedience?" This blog entry is killer. How very exciting!

Tessa Oestman said...

Misty, you have been beyond encouraging through this process. Thank you so much for your prayers and thoughts! I'm glad I get to walk through this with you!

Kinuko H said...

Dear sweet sister, Tessa,

Tears welled up in my eyes, as I was reading your honest confessions. I felt you were writing straight from your heart and soul.

“I stumbled upon submission and headcovering. I immediately implemented the practices, and saw immediate changes in my marriage. I am still astounded every day by the changes I have seen in my husband, my children, and myself. It has absolutely been worth it for that reason alone. “

One of the wonderful points I see in you, which I highly admire, is that you respond to God’s urge “immediately”. This is awesome and praiseworthy. And I should learn from you!

“,,,As I was washing my hands, muttering something under my breath, I looked in the mirror and saw my head covering. Suddenly, a sense of calm came over me. "Oh, that's right," I thought. "I am a daughter of the One True King. I am called to more than this."

This portion really made me cry. Thank you for sharing this, Tessa! Yes, we are daughters of the One True King.

I love your post, I love your character and I love your heart attitude toward God and the Bible. Please continue to share your faith journey with us. From your fellow head covering sister, Kinuko

Tessa Oestman said...

Thank you so much for this comment, Kinuko. I do desire to share my heart, and I appreciate and am glad that you feel it. What an encouragement it is to have other women to share this journey with!

Kinuko H said...

Tessa, thank you for your reply. Today, I wrote about your wonderful testimony on my blog and encouraged other ladies to visit your blog. If it is possible, would you please come to my blog one time to check the content? Thank you!
Here is a link;

from Kinuko

Kinuko H said...

Dear Tessa, thank you so much for your comment on my blog! There is a lovely message waiting for you in the same comment section which you wrote. This message is from Japan! Please come back again to read this letter!Your testimony has been an inspiration for many many woman in the world. God bless you.Kinuko