day six | seven: clothing fast | write31days

Alrightly, so here we go onto the second fast: clothing.

 

Let’s just start off with a verse- one that I remember my grandmother Wanza and my dad saying often as I was growing up. Because I may or may not have been a worrier even as a child. Mhm. Came by that one honestly. {cough, mom, cough}.

“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!” Matthew 6:28-30

Here’s a question for you, dear readers, when did you first notice clothing? When did you first feel the compulsion to fit in? If I had to guess, for most of us it would be middle school. I know that’s when it started for me. Before that, I was a child of the 80s, rocking neon pink shorts to go with my neon green and yellow giant baggy shirt secured with a scrunchy at my waist- which just happened to match the one in the side ponytail I was sporting. Plus probably a pair or bright orange jellys if I was wearing shoes at all. Oh, the good old days.

I would say that as a kid I was a tomboy. I mean I loved playing dress up and dolls, but for the most part I was surrounded by boys on a daily basis, and I just didn’t understand why I couldn’t hang upside down on the monkey bars with a skirt on. I clearly remember being inordinately angry that my brothers got to run around shirtless in the heat of summer and I wasn’t allowed to.

That all changed in sixth grade. For a long time I thought it was just the middle school I went to: it was the “preppy” school and a good majority of the kids were from rich families. Looking back now, I think it was just the age. But suddenly, I found myself listening to comments about my clothes, whispered giggles and teasing because I didn’t have brand name jeans or was pushing the limits on the school dress code. I pretty much HATED middle school for many reasons (who loves middle school??? puberty is tough, y’all), but insecurities about my clothing and looks definitely came to a full force then. I vividly remember changing multiple times for school, and then walking through the halls with my head down because I hated my outfit. Healthy, I know.

But by the middle of high school, I had established who I was, and I was pretty ok with being a band geek, choir junkie, and theater weirdo. It also helped that I fell head over heels for this cute choir guy junior year, and believe or not, it was mutual! Little did I know I would end up following him around for the rest of my life! But you know, I’m a female and some of those insecurities about how we look never really fade away.

And then I became a mother. And spending time on “myself” always ends up taking second best to whoever needs their tush wiped next.

All that to say that when it came time for clothing week, I didn’t think it would bother me that much. I would gladly wear comfy clothes all of the time. I go days without putting make up on. In fact, the only times I “style” my hair or slap on makeup are for church or a night out with the hubs or friends. I don’t have a problem being seen fresh-faced with a messy bun, worn-in jeans and a star wars t-shirt. I thought I had this one totally in the bag. Clothing fast? Why yes thank you, that sounds lovely.

Jen gets into the church’s viewpoint on clothing and the biblical viewpoint on clothing. When we talk about clothes in church, most of the time it’s about modesty, which has it’s place of course, as we are not to be stumbling blocks to one another, and we are to treat our bodies as temples. However one things churches don’t discuss much is our perceptions of people based on their clothing.

If you look at yourself really honestly, we will all admit that we will have very different reactions to an unshaven man wearing rags approaching us on the street than to a clean, well-dressed man in a business suit walking up to us. And where our small group ended up is that some of those reactions are protective, and necessary. You have good reason to be cautious when someone who appears to be unkempt approaches you. But caution is different than JUDGEMENT. We need to be infinitely careful to reserve judgement based on clothing and appearance and instead use God-given wisdom when interacting with others.

 

Ok, so then we had to try and guess how many pieces of clothing we had in our house. I guessed 300, Jace guessed 200. And then I counted. Every single thing (not including underwear and socks, but including belts, scarves and hats.)

I had 346 items. Jace had 217.

Ok, that’s a lot of stuff, but ya know, we had two full different wardrobes thanks to North Dakota winters, I have a full maternity wardrobe and Jace has all these military issue clothing and uniforms.

Then, I estimated that if that entire wardrobe had been purchased in the last 5 years (reasonable assumption for me, not really for Mr. I-haven’t-changed-sizes-since-high-school) and we assumed every item cost $10 (which is low- really low) then we have spent around $5,600 on CLOTHING in the past FIVE YEARS. And if they each cost $15-20, or more???? ACK!!

*Choke* Cough, cough, cough.

Ouch. That one hurts a lot. That’s a major opportunity cost right there. Wow.

 

And this is where is gets real. What else can that money do? Where else can I focus my blessed excess than at Target?

“Do you think of your income as a potential source to battle injustice or  more like your personal blessing (and reward for working hard)? How does your spending reflect this?”

oh, oh, oh. That question turned me upside down.

This money, it’s not ours. We didn’t earn it by happening to be born in the US. We didn’t earn it by securing our schooling or jobs. Do we “deserve” more just because we have it? Is it meant to make me comfortable and make sure I have that pair of black boots I really wanted? Or is it meant to fight for the people of God in oppression and poverty. To provide light to a dark and dying world?

10261220_269593819881563_2098922529_n

After that little dose of reality, go ahead and read Isaiah 3:16- 4:1. It’s about how the women of Judah portray themselves. Sound familiar?  Ugh. That verse hits home.

 

So for our fast, we each took a small plastic grocery bag and filled it with two outfits and pjs and shoes and lived out of that (Hubby didn’t include his uniform in this- those combat boots would fill the whole bag!) Overall, I didn’t mind wearing one set of clothing through the week.

Throughout the week, I counted how many times I looked in the mirror, how many times I asked my husband, does this look ok? Not one person said a word to me about the fact that I was wearing the same shirt again. And besides sporting a T-shirt to church (which is a no-no to this Presbyterian raised girl), I wasn’t ever uncomfortable. Perhaps if I had done it a full month it would have sunk in a bit more. I intend to do it again for a month.

But I did find that I still have an attitude of wanting to look nice when other people see me. And attitude of pride in my appearance. Especially on Sundays- when my main goal is to worship God (oh and maybe to look good while my children trail behind me in the welcome center. hmmm).

The hubby, ever the realist, didn’t mind this week one bit. He quite firmly does not care what other think of his physical appearance. In fact he was thrilled to wear the same thing every day- oh wait, he does that every day anyway, thanks to a uniform. Half of his clothes are still from high school, and he hasn’t bought anything new in years (except for his “farming clothes”). When asked what he wanted his clothing to communicate to others, he simply stated practicality, or that I don’t care what they think. Personally, I think he’s on the right track. He dresses for necessity based on the weather and task and leaves it at that. Oh that I could be that practical!

Jen ends the chapter on this note, and I think it wraps it up more effectively than I could:

“This discussion is wrought with land mines because we all struggle with defensiveness here. I know I do. I know exactly the arguments: What’s wrong with being pretty? I just want to look professional. I want other to take me seriously. I like fashion. How my family dresses is a reflection on me as a provider. I want to look good for my spouse.

Almost all my arguments are rooted in someone else’s opinion. Somehow, the exterior dressing is elevated over the content of my character I imagine that what I am wearing says something more important about me than who I actually am. And evidently I care about that. I cared about it to the tune of 327 pieces of clothing.”

As Americans, most of us are the top 4% of earners on earth, and we simply have no concept of how the rest of the world lives.

“Our perspective is tainted with elitism, whether we know it or not. Is it possible that we don’t even realize how sick we are? That the same folks walking around pretty and proud are oblivious to our own inner disease?”

We can justify this all we want. We can come up with excuses for our obsession with our appearances for days. But the truth of the matter is, there is no scripture that excuses this particular excess, this heart attitude. We simply must face this reality of excess.

And turn it into justice. How?

There’s lots of places- on in particular is Noonday– go check it out. Let’s begin to find way to use our excess, to cloth ourselves as necessary, while empowering those in oppression to seek Christ.

 

Oh, that was so good to go over again. I needed to read it again. Thanks for letting me share. Up tomorrow, possessions!


 

(What is #write31days?? Check out here to learn– and check out the #write31days link on the right hand column to read all the posts.)

One thought on “day six | seven: clothing fast | write31days

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s