Writing about this chapter scares me. Not because I have a “problem” with clothes, but because I don’t. Jen’s list of 7 clothing items? Whoopty-doo. I don’t even need the dress shirt (or heaven forbid, the cowboy boots–no offense, my darlin’ Texas friends). I could just replace it with my ratty pink sweatshirt from Old Navy.
Jen and I are similar in that we both write books (write, have written, whatever) and speak to groups of people. The difference is that Jen’s audiences are typically much larger and she has to look nice when she gets on stage. She said she’d never worn a t-shirt to an event. I have never not (well, maybe, but rarely).
So, what is my point? I don’t care about clothes. In the winter, I wear jeans (from the thrift store), long-sleeved tee (thrift store) under a short-sleeved tee (with some kind of justice slogan), and tennis shoes (Target cheapos). In the summer, I wear shorts/capris and a t-shirt and flip-flops. Always. If you see me five days in a row, I will look exactly the same. If you see me every Sunday at church, I will look exactly the same as I do Monday through Friday.
And even though I really do think everyone (ALL OF US) could really benefit from some Purging o’ the Excess, I would never, ever say that you should all dress like me. PLEASE don’t all of you start dressing like me. B-O-R-I-N-G. This world needs some color, people!! Some style! Some creative expression!
Which brings me to my real, actual point: clothing isn’t one of my “weak” areas, so I don’t feel comfortable handing out cheap advice.
That said, I do want to ask you what you thought of some of the things Jen says about our wardrobes in this chapter. Because she says some things that I think could maybe possibly be a little off-putting to those who like themselves a cute outfit.
(Part A will be Pick-a-Quote-and-Expound and Part B is what we’ll call Analyze Yourself.)
1. “Perhaps an obsessive occupation with dresses and hair and shoes detract us from the point of the gathering: a fixation on Jesus.” (53)
2. “What I’m wearing and what you think of it pales next to loosening the chains of injustice and setting the prisoner free.” (56)
3. “I would like to be so focused on the valuable that what I’m wearing doesn’t even warrant mental space.” (57) And friends, it’s okay to disagree with Jen. If you don’t like this quote (or any of the others), feel free to say so.
4. “As I gaze upon their hopelessness [the families of her Ethiopian children], I imagine them calculating what I’ve spent on clothing alone, realizing that same amount would’ve kept their family fed and healthy for thirty years.” (66)
5. “If my influence is linked to my wardrobe, then my ministry is falsely inflated and built on sand.” (67)
6. “In a culture that elevates beauty and style, the Christian community is at genuine risk for distraction, even deception.” (67)
I’ll share my thoughts on a few of these in the comments section this time to keep the post from getting forever long.
I think one thing we should keep in mind is that we are all very different, and while we can gently challenge each other, we have no room to judge each other. Until I’ve walked a mile in your cowboy boots/high heels…
I’d love to know which category you fit in and some steps you think you might take in this area to bring you closer to Jesus.
1. Don’t really care about clothes.
2. Love clothes but consider yourself more creative than excessive.
3. Sense you might have a clothing addiction.
Part C: (TOMORROW)
We’re going to discuss the rule-breaking necklaces Jen wore on pages 60-61. Both of them meant something super-special and actually drew her closer to God and loving the poor. For as much as I don’t love clothes, I get super tickled by clothing/accessories for a cause. Bags made by poor Ugandan mothers, necklaces made by former prostitutes in Cambodia, t-shirts about ending slavery and caring for orphans.
Get ready to share your favorites tomorrow!