When Pants Day came about last year, I couldn’t do it. At first, I was put off by the conversation. I didn’t mind if women wore pants to church or not, but I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. And then, it happened. I saw Facebook status after Facebook status, blog post after blog post, reaming these women—my sisters in the Relief Society, my sisters in the Gospel, my fellow sisters and daughters of God—all because they wanted to wear a pair of clothing with a seam between their legs. I couldn’t wrap my head around the hatred. What it had done was reveal a problem—we Mormons really like to tell people how to live their lives, and we really like to make others feel badly when their choices are not our own. This wasn’t the church I belonged to. And so, the morning of December 16, 2012, I pulled my legs through a nice pair of black slacks to show my sisters that I was there for them.
And then I took them off and put on a skirt instead.
You see, I was terrified. I was terrified of being different. I was terrified of someone in my ward thinking that I was a rebel. I was terrified that someone might say something mean to me, that they would see me as someone with ulterior motives, that they wouldn’t like me anymore. My fear prevailed. I slipped myself back into a skirt and headed out to negative temperatures, snow, and ice. It was as if the heavens were reminding me just how ridiculous I was. I could be warm. I could be appropriately dressed for the weather. I could show my sisters that I respected their choices. I could stand with them. But I didn’t dare. I cared too much for the praise of my fellow (wo)men.
Fast-forward a number of months and it happened again. Someone in my ward, with the best of intentions, made a comment about how women who wear pants to church simply don’t understand. And that was it. I knew that we frequently had a number of investigators come in pants. I knew that we had some less-active women who quietly and sporadically attended in pants. I knew that I was someone who almost wore pants one December day, not because I didn’t understand, but because I understood just how marginalized some of my sisters felt. So, I did it. The next Sunday, instead of slipping into a skirt, I pulled on that pair of dress slacks. I looked myself over in the mirror and realized that I looked more dressed up than normal. My clothing fit me well, it was flattering, and I felt beautiful.
That day at church made all the difference. As I was teaching a lesson about the Relief Society by President Lorenzo Snow, I felt my heart move toward my sisters in such a beautiful way. In my sacrament meeting, I felt true and authentic as I praised my God through song and prayer. I mark my very first Pants day among the most memorable and spiritual Sabbaths in my life. It was that day that I knew God loved me just for being me, and that I had a work to do—misfit and unconventional as I am.
While I still believe that we are to show respect for our God in our Church meetings, what has changed is that I no longer believe this means our attire. It is our hearts that matter to God. That day of pants was life-altering. Ridiculous, I know, but it was part of a mighty change in my relationship with God. It was no longer a relationship where I was trying to impress other people by living by their standards. I cannot get back to God being someone that everyone else wants me to be. What I need to be is who God wants me to be. And God wants me to be Amy—quirky, passionate, and questing. God wants me to be authentic. God wants me to care more about my relationship with Deity than impressing others.
And so, you’ll see this gal, who normally dons a skirt to church, in a respectful and appropriate pair of trousers on December 15. I need to remember that God cares more about how I reach out than how I assimilate. I need to remember that the Lord looketh upon the heart. I need the reminder that me and God are what matter on this journey. I need to bring my best self.