I Didn’t Wear Socks to Church


I had never done anything like this before it before. Every Sunday, for 29 years, I had woken up, put on virtually the same clothes, and gone to virtually the same church. But this Sunday, it just hit me. It was time to change. So I did.

So I didn’t wear socks to church.

Now, some of you might be thinking this isn’t a big deal, that in fact it’s the furthest thing from a big deal. But for me, it was monumental. If that sounds weird to you, it’s okay. It probably sounds as weird as I felt walking into the sanctuary of a church with feet clad only in my Toms. I felt naked. Not literally, obviously. I was fully clothed.

But I felt completely exposed.

As silly as it may seem, I felt like a degenerate. I just knew I had to do it.

For 29 years I had gotten up every Sunday morning, gotten dressed, put on shoes and socks, and gone to church. I don’t know why the socks part stuck out. Maybe because it was something I knew I could change. I’d been working on change for the past few months — working to change churches, change my way of thinking, and apparently even change the way I dressed.

I left the church where I had been spent the better part of a decade. I’d never been church hunting before. I’d changed churches, but always with family, always following my parents. Now I was alone, without a church.

There were all these firsts for me. Everything was changing.

I tried new churches, different churches, opening my mind to different ways of preaching, worshiping and dressing, and (I’m almost afraid to admit this) even not going at all.

I lived most of my life in the Southern Baptist Tradition, where attendance is next to godliness and “Sunday Best” is a not a suggestion. If you’re wondering how strange this made me (you may not be, after the sock confession) I was the kind of person who would actually skip church before attending church sockless. (I know, I’m such a rebel.)

The socks were just a small part.

The sock thing is probably the smallest outward evidence of something that’s been going on underneath for a long time: A reassessment, not so much of the deeper convictions of my faith but in how I’ve practiced it, what I’ve been taught makes someone a “good” Christian.

A lot has changed, mostly for the better I’d say.

But with all that has changed, I still find myself going to old habits, old ways of thinking. Which is why I felt so exposed that Sunday morning, certain someone would notice and say something and maybe ask me to go home. I felt naked walking to my seat, standing in worship.

And then, strangely enough, I didn’t feel anything.

I felt comfortable, normal. I left and no one said a word. There were no accusing stares or pointed fingers. No one asked me to go home. Maybe that says a lot for the church where I was visiting, or maybe I simply faced my own paranoia and realized what it was — paranoia. Not real. Unfounded.

As my sister pointed out later: “Jesus didn’t wear socks to church.”

“Perhaps,” I told her, “but I wonder if he would have walked in with Calculus Toms…”

Food for thought, nonetheless.

[photo:Chelsea Intal ,Creative Commons]

  • http://paulanderson13.wordpress.com/ Paul Anderson

    I’ve felt the same way at times Douglas. Sometimes, changing the most small, mundane things in life can spark confidence and freedom. We hold ourselves back don’t we? Glad you were able to break loose my friend. Maybe the next adventure can be not wearing….nevermind, we’ll just stick with socks for now :) . Thanks for your words sir.

  • shalom08

    One of my electives that I’m currently taking this semester is about Western Art History. In one lecture, our professor showed us a picture of a vessel used for worshipping in ancient Mesopotamia. The vessel’s exterior is filled with sculptures of naked people carrying offerings for the goddess Inana. What interested me the most is the fact that even the goddess Inana, inside the temple dedicated to her, is barefoot. My point after all of this is that if we follow ancient conventions regarding places of worships or holy places or sacred grounds, we should all go there with bare feet, if not naked. People back in those days regarded nudity as the ultimate form of purity and a gesture of respect to the church or temple – the sacred ground where God lives.
    Jesus indeed went to the synagogues during his time on barefoot, but for us modern Christians we know that the idea of a sacred ground extends beyond the confines of a church and into our hearts. Our souls should be made pure regardless of the clothes that we wear. Interesting read, Douglas. Thank you.

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