Archives for posts with tag: christianity

For some reason this morningĀ  I woke up with the desire to try covering my head and see how it felt. As I type, I am wearing a very badly-fastened hijab made from a blue scarf I was given last summer. The scarf isn’t really the right length, and it has tassles on the ends which look odd, but it was the best I had.

I’m not sure what makes me want to cover my hair. I suppose it’s the logical progression from my decision last summer to cover elbow to knee, but it is highly unusual in the Church of England for women to wear any kind of headcovering (with the exception of hats at weddings and christenings), and hijab is so strongly correlated with Islam that I think I would be at risk of offending someone and being misintepreted if I were to wear hijab in public.

But I do quite like the idea, nonetheless. I need to think about why this is though. I think partly it may be that if I dress in a more overtly modest way, it will discourage people from acting towards me in a way that in turn would encourage me to act inappropriately. But I’m not sure that I should be laying that responsibility on other people. Perhaps I should leave my hair uncovered and take a greater ownership of my own behaviour. On the other hand, is it not sensible to take precautions against what I know to be my own pitfalls? If I dress in a way that doesn’t indicate to people that I am off-limits for flirting, bawdy humour and incitement to sin, then I am inviting that behaviour and I know already that I am not always strong enough to resist the temptation to join in, or even alert enough to notice it immediately. Too often I have sat alone in the evening and realised that I had said things or done things which I am not happy with, and didn’t even identify at the time.

In three months or so, I will be moving to a new city – a large, multi-cultural city where I do not know anyone. I’m toying with the idea of it being a new start entirely; the possibility of arriving with my hair covered and starting as I mean to go on. It would give me time to consider exactly what that means in detail; does it mean buying some more suitable headscarves and learning how to wear hijab properly, without the lumps and bumps and random dangling ends? Does it mean finding a more obviously Christian form of head covering? I need to decide at least some of these issues soon, as I am hoping to go and view a flat next week, and it would be good to meet my potential new landlord dressed as I would be when I lived there.

I have looked at more traditionally Christian headcoverings and not found any I like as much as I like hijab, but I’m not sure that “which looks better?” should be the major factor in this decision anyway!

Any advice would be very welcome, particularly if you are a Christian woman who wears a head covering – and especially if you’re a Christian woman who wears a head covering in the UK, as I know it’s more common in the USA.

I suppose I became a Christian two years ago. I say “suppose” because it’s hard to pinpoint it exactly – I know that I didn’t begin attending church regularly and voluntarily until I began university, and even then not immediately. Although I remember the feeling of the moment I sensed God’s presence in my life, I don’t remember the date. I do know, almost to the hour, when I will be baptised and christened: soon.

Over the last two years I have pursued baptism like a cat trying to catch a butterfly. With every church I joined whilst moving around between two countries and several different towns, I discovered that I was just a little too late. At my first church, an evangelical student church, I discussed baptism with the pastoral team and even was placed onto a list of names for baptism in November of the same year. I attended a preparation course at another similar church, and talked excitedly with my Christian friends about my upcoming baptism. November arrived, and with it came serious ill health which drove me out of university and back to my mother’s house for a year. I missed the baptism.

The second church was an Anglo-Catholic community, much higher up the candle than I had ever experienced before. Through a series of highly unforseen events I found myself living abroad for a period of four months, and I joined the congregation by seredipity: again, God’s guidance recognisable only in retrospect. A few weeks after I began attending services, the Bishop arrived to baptise and confirm a group who had been preparing since before I came. I missed out again.

The third church was back in my mother’s home town, a traditional Anglican parish church, and I once again spoke with the vicar. We even met a few times to discuss and prepare – it was felt that formal confirmation classes, which would normally be offered, were unnecessary for someone of my age, particularly as I had already attended a course similar to Alpha and had “preparation” talks with not one, not two but by this point three different ministers! Once again there was a timetabling difficulty, however – I was due to return to university in October, only returning for vacations which clashed with the busiest periods in the church calendar. We agreed that I should wait and talk to someone back at university.

So here I am, in a fourth church – this time a smaller local chapel more similar to the parish church than the student one where my journey began. I have found a community and an approach to scripture which I am comfortable with; we are guided and advised through the Gospels and other readings, but not condemned for the choices we make providing they are prayerful. Non-believers and believers alike are accepted and the overwhelming sense I get is that one’s personal faith is a matter for God alone. It’s a far cry from the heavily rule-laden community I began in – a loving, supportive and prayerful community but one which seemed to take responsibility for and control over every aspect of its members’ lives. I didn’t always feel that God’s work was taking place, but that sometimes the young people I met were getting carried away by their own idea of holiness. As a private and often introverted person I am happier to pray silently, knowing that I am surrounded by others who, if not necessarily doing likewise, at least do not judge me for my prayers.

And now, at long last, the opportunity for both baptism and confirmation has arisen. The baptism is set to take place in just two weeks and the confirmation service the week after, and short of an earthquake or another sudden illness will finally be taking place. I will be baptised alongside one other person and confirmed with many, in front of several of the people who have helped me to this point. I can see now, in retrospect as ever, that the doors which seemed to be slamming shut in my face were actually being gently closed to guide me further down the correct path. I wasn’t ready to be baptised before; I was conflicted over the fundamental important beliefs such as God’s omnipresence and omnipotence, and I struggled to understand the concept of salvation. Whilst I still have questions, the scales have tipped from doubt to conviction. I finally feel able to make a whole-hearted commitment to a life dedicated to God.

Now I feel that I need more guidance than ever! I have very recently begun reading my Bible systematically, taking one or two chapters each day and reading through the books in order, beginning with the Old Testament. I have read in several places that it can be better to start with the New Testament instead, but extensive reading of American home-schooling blogs has caused me conflict and confusion over the thorny issue of creation, evolution and science. I pray every day for clarity and illumination and am reading Genesis in the hope that I will finally begin to reconcile a scientific upbringing with a fledgling faith confused by contradictory, but convincing, viewpoints. It is so hard to separate the truth from the noise.