My mom joined the Church after she married my dad. It was the mid-1960s, and mini skirts, sleeveless shirts, and short hemlines were the fashion. As she learned more about the gospel and especially about the temple, my mom knew she would need to make a decision.
She was aware that her clothing would need to be modest to cover the temple garment she would be wearing. Going to the temple meant a great deal to her because it meant that Dad and I could be sealed to her and that we could be a family eternally. That is what she chose.
I was less than two years old, so I don’t remember the sealing experience, but Mom told me that it was beautiful. She also told me that when I was brought into the sealing room, she could not hold back the tears.
When my mom came home, she went through her wardrobe and gave away most of her clothing. But she considered it a small sacrifice. She knew the blessings of the temple were better than any of those clothes.
As I grew up, she taught me modesty. She wanted me to understand how to dress appropriately so that I wouldn’t have to change my wardrobe after I went to the temple.
My mom sewed for me, helped me choose modest clothing, and told me of her decision years before. When I was in high school looking for a formal gown to wear to the prom, she took me shopping. We searched and searched for something appropriate, and finding nothing in our area, we drove three hours to Salt Lake City. There we found a beautiful and perfectly modest pink gown. Her sacrifice of time showed me that dressing modestly was important to her. And it was at that dance I realized how important it had become to me as well. I felt like a princess in my dress. I noticed how uncomfortable some of the other girls seemed to be in their dresses. Many of them spent the evening keeping tiny straps on their shoulders or tugging at the bodices of strapless gowns. They did not look like they were having much fun.
When I later married my sweetheart in the Logan Utah Temple, I didn’t have to change my wardrobe afterwards. Mom had prepared me; I had only one dress I could no longer wear. She had also prepared me by teaching me how sacred and special the garment was and what a privilege it was to be able to wear it. I never felt that garments were a restriction; I appreciated them from the first time I wore them. I knew the blessings and promises and protection they provided. It felt wonderful to have something from the temple that went home with me. And I didn’t have any regrets about not being able to wear certain styles of clothing. As my mother had taught me, the blessings I had were better than any of those clothes!
Now I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and two handsome sons, and I am trying to teach them modesty and its role in preparing for the temple. Even when they were young, I tried to dress them modestly. A cute sundress is still cute with a T-shirt under it. I talk with my children about what is too short, too tight, and too revealing. I remind them of the goal of going to the temple and being able to wear the temple garment.
Many years ago, my mom made that sacrifice. But as she saw it, she gave up one thing for something far better. I’m so glad she did. Her personal commitment to modesty made it so much easier for me.
Illustration by Dilleen Marsh