What I learned in 4 weeks

The goal was to wear only 7 items of clothing for 4 weeks.

The goal was to see if it was possible to live with less.  So much less.

The goal was to see if life could still carry on, with happiness and joy, without having a new something to wear for every occassion.

The goal was to give away at least one article of clothing per day.

The goal was to live justly by sharing with those who need.

Wanna know what happened?  SO. MUCH. MORE!

I ended my 4 weeks with every single 7 items absolutely filthy.  Both dresses are torn and one strap is held on by a safety pin.  I have a stain that won’t come out on one bum cheek of my capris.  I have a hole in my black tank top.  The tights will never be worn again as they’ve worn so thin they can hardly be classed as an article of clothing.  Bottom line?  I have worn these clothes out and it feels fantastic!!

When was the last time you actually needed a new dress?  Or a new top?  Like, needed it!  For me it’s probably been never because I’ve always had a back up supply in my closet.  Sure, we grow bored with what we have or trends change and the cut isn’t quite right anymore but we certainly aren’t in need, or at least, I’m not.

But at the end of this I can honestly say that I needed something new to wear!  Some of these were no longer functionally appropriate and for some reason that thrilled me to bits.  Because we go through our lives spending money on more and on new without ever finishing off the old.  We stuff our closets so full that we have to have seasonal change overs in order for everything to fit.  We need bigger armoires and more dressers of drawers and somehow we start taking over closets that aren’t even in our room to house all that we have.  But there is a feeling of satisfaction in actually looking at an article of clothing and being able to state, this is done.  I wore it well.  Definitely needs replacing.

Of course, I don’t actually need a shopping trip as I have a closet to go back to.  But I’m fortunate that way.  Not everybody does.

Having this challenge to wear only 7 articles of clothing brought me to Jesus in a new way each day.  Because I added the challenge of giving something away each day I came to Him and asked Him to show me what needed to go.  Some mornings I would sit and pray right on the floor in front of my closet asking Him to show me the idols of my heart, the excess, the ick and begged Him to strip these things away.  Each day there were articles that I just pulled right out and placed in a bag but one morning was different.  As I sat there I just felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to look over my closet and pull out everything that I had purchased on a whim.  Everything that I had bought because I was trying to fill a void.  Each time I was trying to fill an empty with stuff and it meant I came home with a new dress or pair of shoes.  Each time I spent money on frivolous things instead of turning to my Creator to fill me.

Time and time again we say He is enough.  But was my life actually a picture of that?  Not by the look of my  closet.

So I sat there pulling out items.  Things I love.  Things I spent a lot of money on.  Things with name brands that made me feel important or things without name brands that made me feel even cooler.

I prayed that God would show me what He wanted me to do with these items of clothes and it only took one email before He did.  I sent off something along the lines of, “I’m not sure if you know anyone or anywhere who could use these…”  and I got back, “This couldn’t have come at a better time.  Yes!!”

It turns out there are anywhere from 50-65 homeless youth in our small city each night.  We don’t really see these kids on the streets at night because they generally bed hop from one friends home to another but technically having no residence of their own. Because of my size, the clothes I had to give would easily fit these youth and in just a few days there was to be a night where all of the kids could come and “shop”.  Take clothes that they needed or wanted.  They were short on small sizes so my call came at just the right time.

Tears.  Thank you, Jesus!

Know what happens when you look at your closet after hearing about a need?  Well, you realize even more just how privileged you are and your heart knows it.  So I started pulling more.  Things that I thought 15 and 16 year old girls might want.  Toms.  Converse.  Roxy T-shirts.  Not things I was originally going to give but things I had that they might want.  Because they need them so much more than I do.

In 4 weeks,  I’m happy to say, that I didn’t just give away 28 items of clothes but I cut my wardrobe exactly in half!  I started out with 141 items and I did a quick count this morning and their were only 72 items hanging.  Plus I donated 10 pairs of shoes, belts, costume jewelery, and hair accessories.

I don’t share any of this to make you think much of me but rather to make much of a great God who has created each person on this earth in His image and likeness.  Every single person.  It humbles me to think that while my closet is stuffed to the brim there are teens out there who have noone to take them back to school shopping.  It hurts my heart to think that while I pick up yet another t-shirt for my boys they are wearing the same one day in and day out.  Not to mention the people in this world who have even less simply by being born in a nation where they struggle even to survive.

I don’t know why I was born here.  I’ve wrestled with it for a long time.  Why do I get freedom and privilege while others get poverty and death.  But what I’ve learned is that, while I need to be so thankful for the privilege I have, it comes with a great responsibility.  Will I use this privilege simply for selfish gain?  Will I stock my closets and take more vacations or will I use what I have been given to serve others.  Will I take what has been given to me and give it to others.

My heart has been challenged and changed in these 4 weeks.  I always had clothes to wear though there were a few days that I grumbled about having to put the same thing on – again!  But I also realized that the way I feel about myself doesn’t come from nice clothes.  I realized that people didn’t treat me any differently for wearing 7 items of clothes.  Somehow I imagine that if I’m fashionable or have new outfits each day I will feel better about myself and people will think highly of me.  But what I’m learning is that this is not the worth I need or the value I want.

The last thing I want to be known for is the girl who had cool clothes.  They mean nothing.  They accomplish nothing.

I’d much rather be known as the girl who gave stuff away.  The girl who serves others.  The girl who knows that she lives in great privilege and so is willing to share what she has with those in need.  The girl who loves Jesus so much that she’s willing to give away what she has.  These things have actual value.  Helping, sharing, giving and serving.  Don’t these ring sweeter than buying, accumulating, having and getting?

I have much to learn still.  I have more I can give and there are more ways I can help.  This month only scratched the surface.

Have you ever thought of doing a challenge like this?  I assure you it is so well worth it!  

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