For those of you who have attended sunday school since birth, this was my Gideon’s fleece moment. For the rest of you, that moment that made me sure that this is what I was suppose to be doing.
I didn’t ask for a sign. I didn’t know I needed one. I had already made up my mind that this was right and good. But of course with the dawn of a new day come tides of doubt and I wondered if I was being silly. Was this all silly? Was this really necessary? Maybe I shouldn’t.
Have I ever mentioned I have the most amazing friends on the planet? Because I do.
I woke up on Monday, July 1 to a text that was all I needed to cast all doubting aside and to take the plunge. It didn’t say much, but it said enough. The best part is that it was a friend I haven’t talked with in months. She had no idea what I was about to take on, what I was doubting or even that I was doubting. But her words sent to me that morning, no doubt prompted by the Holy Spirits work in her life, were just what I needed and so it began.
7 articles of clothing for an entire month.
Seven. Entire month. I. Can. Do. This.
But only wearing seven items of clothes for the month was only me proving to me that this is all I needed. And maybe God proving to me that he was right when he said if you have two, give one away. But I wanted more than that. A giving back. A stripping away. Something that changed me so that at the end of the month it wasn’t just me and my spilling over closet reunited like BFF’s but me, with lessons hopefully learned, with a God who has chiselled away, and with a leaner wardrobe, the excess going to those in need.
I purged my closet about 2 weeks ago. I do this often. If I haven’t worn it in a year I don’t need it and so I had just gone through this process, prompted by the shifting seasons. I like everything in my closet. I wear most of it semi-regularly. It contains the stuff I knew I wanted to keep. But now I’m not going to. Because with 141 items still hanging there I know I have a lot of work to do. So for each day this month I’m giving one piece of clothing away. Something that was left hanging there after the purge.
The clothes in the garage already waiting to be donated don’t count. I want them to. I thought about counting them. But then I realized that’s dumb and not accomplishing anything.
I spent the morning choosing my 7 pieces. I tried them all on in various combinations to ensure that they could all mix and match. And the winners are:
I’m a solid week in just now and I am blown away by what God is doing in me in just this week. They say that fasting brings you into an utter reliance on God and refocuses your gaze on Him and tunes your senses in to Him and I can’t attest to that more. While this isn’t a food fast but a fast from excessive clothing, it has caused me to pray and pray and listen and listen and it turns out that if you pray and listen, well – he shows up! (of course he always shows up, I’m just not always listening!)
Our memory verse for this week ain’t no coincidence:
Wearing seven articles of clothing for the month is turning out to be the easy part. It’s the stuff I’m learning along the way that’s harder. The stuff like how sinful my heart is and how its desires are so selfish. The parts that show me that I’m holding on to ‘stuff’ as though it’s a life line. The way that I look when held up against a holy and righteous God. Let’s just say he’s awesome. Me? Not so much.
To this little pile.
I was weeding the garden this afternoon and I came across one section that, in the month since I last weeded, was overtaken by vines. By vines that grow in abundance and wrap around gorgeous flowers and trees and tangle them all up in an effort to overtake them. This area overtaken by weeds is me. Me and my closet. Somehow in this area the vine has slipped its tendrils around me and twisted and wrapped and even bloomed a pretty flower along the way making it seem like it’s alright but it isn’t long before it starts to tighten, to choke, to overtake until death is the result. The vine is my sin, twisting its way around this area of my life. Telling me I need more, I need new, I need to be stylish and pretty and just have, have, have. (and why not? We can afford it. We work hard. We deserve it! right? so, so wrong….)
It wraps its way around and through with pretty white flowers that open up in the form of girls shopping weekends and time spent together with friends. These are good things, right? It twists and turns by enticing with just one more purchase and comparing with what others have. It starts to overtake when we justify that it was only so many dollars or it was on sale or it was too good of a deal to pass up. It tightens its grip when we hide the receipts. It starts to choke when our closets are spilling over, our drawers too full to close and yet we buy more, contenting our hearts with the fact that we’re donating the old stuff to charity. Justification is the enemy. Detachment the drug.
The vine in my garden is choking the life out of my plants and the sin in my life is choking a pursuit of godliness out of me. It’s feeding me lies and I’m buying them because they sound so nice. The look pretty. But what I see in my garden is danger and it’s my warning sign. If the vine is not torn away from the plant it won’t live. But not just that, the very root must be pulled up and I assure you the root runs deep. So it is with my heart. I can tear away the vines by wearing 7 pieces of clothing and I can untangle the tendrils by giving some stuff away but what I know for sure is that if I don’t rip out the very root of this sin it will grow back quickly, steadily, in new directions and with new lies and it only seeks to devour.
And so it is.
I don’t have an answer or a pretty bow to wrap this up. I don’t have a solution or a moral of the story moment. I do know that if I commit this to Him, my clothes, my closet, the root of why I want, he’ll act. Scripture says so. And so I am. Muddling and praying my way through it. Sitting cross-legged in front of my closet and asking Him to cleanse me from this first world problem. Practicing repentance. Seeking forgiveness. Pleading with him to show me what needs to go. Trusting that He will provide a place for it to go, that He knows exactly who needs, and in his providence He would work out all those details for me.
And He is.