“Why are you wearing winter clothes?” asked the 10-year-old camper, rather incredulous. She was bouncing a ball, sweating, as she stared at me and my getup.

It was 90 degrees, and I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt under a short-sleeved camp shirt, as well as a long skirt“Why are you wearing winter clothes?” and socks.

Another camper was tugging my arm, so I smiled and replied, “Remind me to explain it to you later.”

You see, I was raised in an observant Jewish home. My parents are Chabad emissaries in a small town, and I’ve been questioned about my modest wardrobe quite a few times. I usually give a quick answer—“I’m a religious Jew, and so I dress modestly.” But faced with the question coming from a young, impressionable girl attending a Jewish day camp, I wanted to ensure that my response had more substance.

Over the years, I’ve fallen in love with different aspects of our religion. One thing that I never quite felt attracted to was the mitzvah to dress modestly. When I hit my teen years, dressing within the guidelines of tzniut (modesty) felt limiting and frustrating. I was desperate to fit in; dressing so modestly made me stick out in all the ways I didn’t want to.

In high school, I went through a rebellious stage, questioning G‑d and religion. My observance began to decline, and my closet took the hardest hit. I pushed everything that was too modest to the side and chose outfits that let my knees and elbows peek through. I wasn’t looking for tank tops and miniskirts, I just wanted to push the boundaries a little. I wanted to be able to walk into a store and pick out what suited my taste, rather than what followed every last detail of Jewish law.

Through prayer, I finally reconnected to G‑d. Prayer reached into my soul and pulled out what was clogging it. My newfound love for Judaism helped me get to my deepest essence and express it. The laws of modesty, though, didn’t feel representative of who I was. As I soared in commitment and dedication in other areas, this area remained exactly where it was, even dropping slightly once in a while.

There is no fairytale ending to this story. The truth is, dressing modestly is still a struggle for me. I’m young, and the world is telling me that if I want to be desirable (of course, I want to be) and beautiful (yes, please), I should dress a certain way. And it is so very hard for me to continue following the rules of tzniut.

It’s not that I don’t understand the value of modesty. Attending Jewish schools, I’ve been taught that the more skin we cover, the more we force the world’s eyes to meet ours, to listen closely to the wisdom and strength that comes from our hearts and minds. Our body is a home, and often a beautiful one, to house the parts of us that truly matter. By dressing modestly, we put the deserving focus on who we are and who we haveI’m not over the hump. I’m in the struggle. been working so hard to become—a co-worker, a boss, a mother, a sister, a wife, a daughter. I know that there is a deep beauty in these laws, a tremendous depth to letting women be more than their bodies.

I know that, and I seek to feel that. But it’s not a part of me, that knowledge. I’m not there yet.

But I want to get there. I know that when I create my future home, I want it to be built on the foundation of Torah. I yearn for a home in which the walls sing songs of prayer, and dinner is kosher and plentiful, warming the bodies and souls of those who eat it. I yearn for a home in which the love and awe that I feel for the Creator can permeate the hearts and minds of my children. And I yearn for a home in which the values of tzniut are honored and loved.

For now, the details of modesty are something I adhere to out of respect for my religion and family. It is not something I always feel warmly towards.

I’m not over the hump. I’m in the struggle. And that’s OK. Because Judaism is not about being at the end of the story. Judaism does not seek perfection or ask me to skip the struggle. Indeed, the struggle is the most important part.

And isn’t that in itself inspiration to keep going? While I often prefer to have the answers to all the why’s and how’s, there is a certain beauty in not having all the answers. In doing something simply because I know it’s important, even if it isn’t easy or convenient. Even if it’s really hard. Especially because it’s really hard.

Judaism is hard. Anything that is so deeply good will only come with hard work. Hard work or being uncomfortable is never a good reason to give up though, especially when you know that past the struggle is an endless truth.

I hope that one day, when I don my modest clothing, I’ll feel that it expresses the truth in my heart. But until then, I’ll simply do it, even if I’m not “feeling it.” Because, though I’m grateful that much of my mitzvah observance makes me feel good, it’s just not always about me.

Later that day, as we walked to the pool, I turned to my camper and said, “I cover so much of my body with clothing because a woman is truly beautiful when her face has a chance to shine through. When my body is uncovered, it’s distracting from what is really important—the words IIt’s not always about me have to say, the things I can teach and learn. Modesty allows a woman to be true to herself.”

She nodded, smiled, and we kept walking. She began to speak of another subject.

The answer was true. It was what I had been taught in school. But, I thought to myself, it’s not necessarily what I always feel.

I wear modest clothing because G‑d asked me to. He gives me so much each day, He allows me to wake up each morning, He blessed me with a large and beautiful family, He gifted me with a religion that brings out the truth in everything and gives me reason to get up every day. He hasn’t stopped giving to me since I was born, and so . . .

This one is for Him.