Let me just start with a disclaimer: I love clothes.
I’m not sure where my love of clothes started. Maybe it began when I played dress up as a little girl in my mom’s closet. Maybe it was in middle school when I realized that I could make a statement with my clothes. Maybe it was the day I discovered the bohemian skirt. Maybe it started when I got that part time job in high school and suddenly had money to blow. I may not be able to pinpoint an exact moment when the obsession began, but eventually my desire for more and more pieces of clothing got to be out of control.
I have used clothes as a mask. I’ve used shopping as an unhealthy form of therapy. I’ve vainly placed value on myself every time I get a “I love your outfit” compliment. I’ve spent countless hours thinking about what impression I’m making with my clothes. I’ve secretly judged girls for wearing things that were too low or too short. I could keep going, but the bottom line is that I have spent too much time and too much money worrying about what I wear and how I look. Ultimately I’ve forgotten what Jesus commanded us:
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? – Matthew 6:28-30
Ouch. Guilty. Really guilty. Especially that last part: you of little faith. When I allow my desire for more and my obsession with clothing myself get in the way of my faith in my God and the command to be generous, that’s a major problem.
So I was excited and nervous to begin the second month of ‘7’. Wondering what my mutiny against excess and ‘7’ is? Read this post, then this post to get caught up. In the book, Jen only wore seven items for the entire month. I knew going into the month that it probably would not be feasible for me to do that. So I went with 12 items. Four items were pretty casual, and the other eight were work appropriate. I limited my accessories to only two items for the whole month, and only wore three pairs of shoes.
Another thing I decided to do was wear the exact same outfit to church every week for the month. My rationale behind this was that I found myself spending a lot more time ruminating over what I wore to church over what I wore to other events. When I read through the clothes chapter and thought about the Sundays where I focused more on what I was going to wear over preparing my heart to worship and serve Jesus, I felt very convicted. So gray shirt, jeans, and black Toms for the four Sundays. I threw on my coral beads too. At the time of this post’s publishing I will have completed my fourth Sunday wearing the same outfit. It was incredibly freeing and powerful. I resisted telling people what I was doing, I maybe told two people the entire time. It made me think about my sweet friends in India and Sudan who have one outfit for church. They wear their best dress or sari every week, the same outfit over and over. When I thought about them, I prayed for them, and their faith and passion for Jesus brought tears to my eyes. They have so much more faith than me. They are living out Matthew 6- they don’t worry about their clothes, even though they have so little.
This month was easy looking back, but the first two weeks of my job were a bit of a challenge. I had about four-five outfits to wear, and I wondered if people noticed that I kept wearing the same mustard cardigan and black dress pants over and over. I was nervous, I wanted to make a good first impression. But when I worried about what others thought, God reminded me that He placed me at my position, and that He is in control. And I began to realize that my stress and worry about clothing has, at times, kept me from focusing on God. There is beauty in simplicity.
At the beginning of the month I had 269 items. Now, at the end of the month, I’ve purged down to 215. I know I can purge even more, and I’m slowly getting there. With the purging of my possessions I’m cleaning out my heart as well. I’m striving to strip away at the excess, the worry, the focus on temporary things. I have a yearning for something more, something deeper than the “American Dream”.
With the month drawing to a close, I’m going to return to my wardrobe. I’m going to wear my cute ethical clothes and my scarves again. I’ll pull out my bright skirts and bold jewelry. These things aren’t bad, unless I am hoarding and focusing on myself through my clothes. It’s a heart issue, and that’s what I’m working on. I want a heart of generosity, and a heart focused on what really matters.
I want my life to be about others and about God, not on myself. I’m striving for a life lived with open hands, dropping everything I have at the feet of Jesus so he can use me and my possessions to bless others.