Monday, July 9, 2012

The Clothes Fast: What? Why?

<Disclaimer: I'm always a little nervous when I write about what God is doing in my heart. It is never meant to be pointed at anyone else, to judge or be ugly. I don't feel haughty, I hope I don't sound it either. I am FAR from perfect which is why Jesus keeps pruning me. Ok, I feel better.>

When I was around 16, I thought it would be a cool and noble thing to go on a fast from buying clothes.  So at the beginning of December I made a half-hearted decision to go a whole month without buying a single sock. But right after Christmas, one of my friends had this uber radical orange sweatshirt (yes, this was the '90's) that she was getting rid of.

from google
I caved.

My rational was that I wouldn't pay her the 5 bucks until January. 

Lame, lame, lame. One whole month and I couldn't do it.

A little bit about myself then and now at 32: I am no diva and no one asks me for my secret to putting together great outfits. I'm probably pretty average. I love shopping, love jeans, love to have my own style and if a top is super cute but not really me, I won't wear it. Most of the time I wear a t-shirt or tank. My weakness is the clearance section at Old Navy.  I appreciate stylin' clothes but... it's not my passion.

from google

Now that you know where I'm coming from, here's my little Fasting Story.

Last summer I got my hands on the book by David Platt, Radical. It was just so inyourface. Not in a guilt inducing way. But it rumbled around my soul. It haunted me. It compelled me to action.

One of challenges Mr. Platt gave at the end was to sacrifice something for a specific cause.

I'm not into coffee and I couldn't think of anything I spend an obnoxious amount of money on. For years I've wondered how long I could go without buying clothes. And the orange sweatshirt of the '90's still smirked at me.

So I decided to go 12 months without buying wearables for myself.

The rules were simple:
1. No buying new clothes. No shirts, jeans, flip-flops, undies, socks, etc.
2. No jewelry or accessories. With the acception of sunglasses. They are practical, hello!
3. If I got above mentioned things as gifts, they would have to sit in my closet and wait for the year to be over.

from google

Because it was so clear cut, I couldn't really justify anything.

And because Dave Ramsey is our hero (!) we have a weekly clothes allowance for my hubby and I. After 1 year, there's some cash in there! Let's just say he doesn't enjoy shopping as much as I do. Some cash that can do some serious good!

Now the year is almost over! I have 22 days left. 

And I have a lot of thoughts.

Did I ever cheat?

Sort of.

Last fall was my Grandma's 90th birthday party. My Aunts declared that everyone should wear a hat. As I was standing in line at Goodwill with my beach/gardening/ranching hat in hand, I panicked. I got out of line and frantically called my good hubby to make sure I was not breaking my own rules. I'm still not sure why I didn't just wear the one hat I already had. Maybe I wanted it to be special for Grandma. Maybe I was itching to spend money. Anyway, my hubby thought I was crazy. Just buy the flim-flam hat already, what's the big deal.

The Orange Sweatshirt, that's the big deal.

The other time I really did cheat was in Florida. Our family spent Christmas and New Year's down south and after we had unpacked it became clear that I had not actually put the stack of sandals in the suitcase. The thought of boots in Florida is practically illegal and so we hit the dollar store. If the lesson I was trying to learn was that buying new things do not make me happy than that experiment was a total success! Have you ever wore $1 flip-flops for extended periods of walking?

Now that my 12 months is almost over (Yay!!!) I'm reflecting and making sure I learned something.

The first thing is rather surprising. It is almost a relief to forget about new clothes. Because I can't buy things, I'm not bothered by new styles or too horrified by my capris that are a few seasons stale. It's like a good excuse to not care.

Secondly, the things I thought I really valued aren't such a big deal after all.

For instance, I had this pair of earrings. Cute little silver cuffs from World Market that I have had for years. They were some of my favs! On Mother's Day, I was getting ready to go on a walk in the woods with my family. Off go the Sunday morning clothes, on go the sweats and for some silly reason, on went those earrings. The second one didn't have a backing on it and I remember thinking, I'm going right into my bedroom to get it. I remembered 5 hours later as I was getting ready for bed.

I was wide-eyed with shock for about 60 seconds before I  realized:
"This doesn't change any aspect of my life. That's surprising."
And then life went on.

The real reason for the fast was to give up something I wanted for the sake of giving something more important to someone else. To remind myself that my life really isn't about me, it's about Jesus. It was something I did for him.

The side benefit of the fast was letting go of something that can easily become so important to me. Less of me Jesus, more of You!

I really hope I don't lose all that I have learned as I again enter the world of Charlotte Russe (are they still in existence?) and What Not to Wear.

But the date is set. My calendar is marked. The girlfriends are on board.

I. am. going. shopping!

May I learn to live in this tension between the fashionable and the most important.

Part 2 coming soon.

1 comment:

  1. This is so practical, yet it embraces the reason God desires us to fast for a time to draw close to Him. I went on a garage sale fast one year because I found I was compelled to go to garage sales for to meet the needs of my little cherubs! But I found it was becoming a compulsion, drawing time and energy (that next great bargain!) away from the Lord. I've also fasted from diet pop. That was a killer. But all draws us closer to Him in the process. Thanks.