Seven: Fasting from Excess {Clothes}

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:

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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:

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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.

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I complained about the size of our closet when we moved to this house.  I’m gross.  I’m going from this overcrowded mess….IMG_2774

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.

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9 thoughts on “Seven: Fasting from Excess {Clothes}

  1. Hi r.

    I’ve had similar thoughts recently, the glut of consumerism. And to what end. And. (!) I am a producer of ‘goods’. (The mental exercise of this discussion continues ad infinitum).

    Whereas I agree excess = not good, it seems human nature to seek and create (possess) beauty in even the most remote and desolate places.

    I read this not long ago; article about remote Kyrgyz people of Afghanistan; ornate wardrobing and home making / http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/02/wakhan-corridor/finkel-text

    Good luck.

    -j

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  2. Love that article, J!

    I think it points to the fact that we’re drawn to beauty, but why wouldn’t we be? Look at where we live! The earth itself is downright gorgeous. The veggies we pick from the garden, vibrant. The changing of the seasons, stunning.

    It’s not beauty that I have a problem with, it’s excess. I want my home to be a lovely place for my family and I want my clothes to flatter my given body shape, but that doesn’t mean I need SO MANY! Y’know?

    I find myself buying, what a dear friend calls, “7’s instead of 10’s” just because it’s in front of me. Or because I have a void that needs filling and I do so with product.

    It’s not wrong to create. It’s not wrong to sell. (don’t stop creating!!)
    It’s more a journey of knowing when enough is enough. But I think you get that 🙂

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  3. I love the journey that you’re on, as I have been on this journey now for almost 7 years… ever since we moved to India. I used to refuse to buy my clothes at Wal Mart (GASP… those aren’t BRANDS), now I’m happy (actually excited) to have the opportunity to purchase cheap *ahem* affordable clothing that won’t fall apart the first time it goes through the washing machine. (yes, all clothing is made in these parts, but for export – not for sale here).I have a blackberry because it’s a secure network and I can talk about Jesus without the gov’t knowing I’m a Christian, and not an iPhone just because the Jones’s say “if you don’t have an iPhone you just don’t add up”. I’m not saving up for a real Burberry purse because I can’t even imagine spending the price of a plane ticket for one of our family members to get to Canada to see friends and family on a bag. It was a real battle within my soul – I’m with you… keep creating and it’s not wrong to sell!! But too much of anything is just not good. It’s not the STUFF that’s the problem, after all. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have nice (and REAL brand name) stuff. After all… I am the daughter of a KING which makes me a Princess… and when was the last time you saw a Princess wearing Wal Mart clothing or carrying a genuine copy purse? I don’t begrudge ANYONE having nice stuff… if they’re also BLESSING because of them being BLESSED. It all comes down to our hearts. Do I really need a new purse? Ok… yes, i do. But do I really need to spend so much money on it? Or could my money be better used elsewhere and be happy with a cheaper *ahem* more affordable purse? The more stuff we consume, sadly, the more we seem to think we deserve and must have. I cringe when I read facebook posts that state “I HAVE NO CLOTHES I NEED TO GO SHOPPING” and they just returned from a shopping spree 6 months ago. I applaud you going on 7 items of clothing for a month. I’m not sure I could do it. Maybe 7 tops and 2 different pairs of pants… but 7 total? Wow. You are an inspiration and I wish I could spend more time with you when I am in Canada (whenever that may be)… because your heart is the kind of heart that makes my heart happy. The not-so-consumed-with-my-own-life-that-I-can’t-see-anyone-else’s kind of heart. Can’t wait to follow along on this journey with you. XO

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  4. You’re right.

    It’s a matter of mindfulness.
    Consideration for the 10s vs the 7s.

    Don’t suppose thinking on this is done.

    -j

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  5. Thanks for your beautiful thoughts, Sher! I love what you said about being a daughter of the King. So true! But we also have to keep in mind what the Son of the Kind looked like when he was on this earth. Was his life marked by his castle and fancy garb or by his love for the poor and by associating with the outcasts. (prostitutes and tax collectors)
    I also love your comment, “the more stuff we consume, sadly, the more we seem to think we deserve…” so true.

    Your thoughts mean a lot coming from a completely different part of the world. I imagine there’s quite a cross section of people where you are, Sher. From extravagant dress to the poorest of poor in the slums. You guys are such a blessing where you are! Be encouraged today!!

    J, I have this feeling that thinking on this SHOULD never be done.

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