When I was just out of high school I worked at a clothing retail store in the Huntington Mall (which is still inappropriately named after all these years). When I worked there I would spend almost my entire paycheck buying nice button-ups, polos and dress slacks (because graduating from high school means you always have to dress nice and turn sophisticated all of the sudden).
I would love wearing these ‘nice’ clothes all the time, but the only thing nicer than ‘knowing you look good’ is having someone tell you that you do, right? So you dress up uncomfortably, squeeze into this and that, layer up with your argyle sweater, which matches your argyle socks, which complement your wristwatch, just to hear one person say, “Oh, you look good today.”
Silly, right. Agreed, but this is what my life was like.
I’ve physically grown since the summer after high school, and the thing about clothes is they don’t grow with you (at least the ones of the non-magical variety). About a year ago I discovered that I couldn’t really wear any of those clothes anymore. Yep, hundreds of dollars, tons of colors, shapes, styles, varieties, cuts…all at my disposable and none of them fitting. So, what do I do? I keep them in my closet, holding on to this vestige of hope that I might someday ungrow and be able to wear some gray pinstriped dress pants again. I did this for a year.
I did this, until today.
Last night, my small group met at Sean, Joe and my apartment, business as usual. And, let me tell you this…my small group is amazing. So, we were discussing all of the questions from the sermon this week, just chatting about generosity and contentment and the love of stuff. We talked about those of us who had managed, by the will of God, to live content despite halved salaries and unexpected layoffs, none of the hardships of which I have experienced in my few years on this earth. All of the sudden, the topic of giving away not money, but stuff. Some among us talked about going through garages and getting rid of stuff that there’s no need to hold on to. Some talked of giving loads of stuff to others or to Goodwill.
All of the sudden it hit me. I am despicably uncomfortable every time I look longingly into my closet of clothes, and it isn’t just because I can’t wear them anymore…it’s because I don’t need any of it. God’s will in my life would be done with one pair of jeans and a ratty t-shirt. Who needs 80 shirts of all different colors? Nobody. I certainly don’t. And for some reason it took me until yesterday to realize that…with the help of the Holy Spirit and a room full of men who know me really well and men who have just met me, but a room full of guys that love to see God work in the life of a fellow believer.
So, today, Sean and I bagged up three trashbags of clothes to take to the city mission. Now, instead of a closet full of clothes I covet over (even though I owned them) I have a closet full of hangers. I love it.
I guess what I’m trying to say through this huge, possibly unnecessary post, is that I’m so glad we worship a God who makes us feel free from things of the world when we turn to Him. He doesn’t care what’s in our closet or our garage, as long as our heart is His and we are acting in a way that shows that to the world.
Thank you, God, for the freedom that comes with learning to follow you.