New Year resolutions aren’t for me anymore, because the longer I’ve been a Christian, the more I’ve learned that at the prompting of the Holy Spirit a person can change longstanding habits and viewpoints at any time during the year.
In late 2020 one such issue of mine was brought to my attention and I determined to address it at the motive level. What needed to change was the way I see fashion; in other words, the way I make my clothing choices.
I was going along fine with way I dress, had no problem with it at all; but woke up one morning in September with Jesus’ words ringing in my head: “Do not worry about what you will wear..” (Matt 6:28). At that time I thought it was about just that day and that I didn’t need to give much thought to what I’d wear for work, so I didn’t.
But the words persisted , and I knew this was a real thing; an invitation for me to look inward and to check myself in this area. Am I looking for approval from others? Do I only approve of myself when I’m dressed a certain way? If I judge myself by the way I dress, do I then judge others in the same way? Yeah, those were some tough questions for me to ask myself.
Fashion has always been a big part of the image I’ve crafted of myself over the years. I vividly remember what I was wearing twenty years ago the first time I went to the church I eventually got saved in. Within a few months of becoming a Christian I purged my closet because of a verse I read in 1 Peter 3. And then over the years I allowed the Holy Spirit to change what I looked for in clothes. That was not an easy process. It was more like turning a big ship around; so after that was done I believed that this was no longer an issue for me. I had made the big changes, had found a rhythm and groove, and was operating smoothly in it.
And then those words – and those self-examining questions came, not on January 1st, but in the mess of 2020, and I started to make changes. Can I tell you “Do not worry about what you will wear..” is easier said than done? Especially when identity is tied up and totally enmeshed in what you wear?
It’s been a prayerful and tough process, and one that I am still walking through. I did take some immediate steps, though. These included changing how I acquired clothing, and unfollowing certain social media accounts. And then I took a step back from the clothes in my closet, and said, “Lord, do what You want to do?”
Speaking those words made me vulnerable, and created the space for me to take notice of how my emotions were impacted by what I chose to wear. I realized some things about myself that weren’t really pretty; my closet had changed from what it was twenty years ago, but some of my motivation behind the way I dress hadn’t. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with fashion; I just started to question the motivation behind why I paid attention to fashion the way I did.
After a couple months of walking this through, God gave me a surprise gift from an unexpected source: a couple thousand dollars worth of clothes. Every piece of clothing in this gift was something I had wanted. As I went through the items I kept hearing, “Do not worry about what you will wear..” and the tears rolled down my face. I cried for hours, full of gratitude that God sees me, and His love for me had been expressed through something as simple as clothes. Simple, but big to me. He knows me intimately, and knew that together we had been working on this issue to get to the real me – not to what the clothes I wear may say about me.
This has given me new eyes to read the part of the story in Genesis 3:21, that after Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden He made clothing for them from animal skins. He was the first fashion designer, and in all of my struggle with fashion and identity, I’m only just seeing that. I’m learning that He will take care of even this need of mine, and that He sees me, no matter what I wear – and also that He cares about what I wear.
Every time we read the Bible it’ll have something new to say to us. It is a living Word. How many times have I read the creation story in my lifetime? Yet, it wasn’t until that one line He made clothing for them from animal skins lined up with what was happening in my life that I saw with clarity that clothing does matter to the Father and that He will take care of even that aspect of our lives.
So, today is as good a day as any to listen to what the Holy Spirit is bringing to your attention in that still, small voice of His, as He invites you to participate in changing yourself. He does this because He loves you and wants to take you to another level. The new you won’t happen overnight, but it does begin to take shape with a single, first step of obedience. We don’t need a New Year’s resolution for that, just ears to hear.
Happy New Year!!