Consider the Lilies of the Field

This week does not seem as daunting as last week.  Consistent with Jen, we have excluded foundational items and pajamas.  When it comes to exercise clothes, however, we are treating them differently.  During the course of a week, I may run, swim, bike, or practice yoga – and I have different clothes for all of these activities.  Plus I run through the winter, so I have running clothes for all weather conditions.  I could skip yoga for the week except that I pay by the year, so that doesn’t seem like a good idea either.  I’m going to include one yoga top, which I’ll also use for running, as a foundation item.  I’ve included my yoga pants in my 7, and I will use also use these for running. 

I made a jacket one of my 7 (weather this week ranges from a low of 8 to a high of 42).  I’m limiting myself to two pairs of shoes (normal plus my running shoes) and three pairs of socks.  I have removed all nail polish.  I’ve excluded from my list all jewelry (except my wedding ring and the cross I always wear) and all accessories, including a belt.  Because I don’t work outside the home, I’m also requiring myself to get dressed every day by 8:00 am, to change out of my exercise clothes within 30 minutes from when I get home, and not change in to pajamas until 8:00 pm.  Sadly, I sometimes lounge in my pj’s all day (or put them on as soon as I get home) or get distracted and don’t change after a work-out for hours.  This will keep my honest to the 7.  Here they are:

My wardrobe for the week.

My wardrobe for the week. Yes, there are more than 7 – I’m not counting the yoga top as it is a foundational item. The legalist in me is trying to compensate by allowing only the two pairs of shoes and 3 pairs of socks for the week.

Day 1 (March 16, 2014)

“Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes?  – Matthew 6:25 (CEB)

I’ve spent this morning counting and sorting my clothes.  I’ve always felt like I don’t have as many clothes and shoes as other women, and have taken some pride in that.  I was really surprised when I started tabulating my closet.  Here’s the tally (excluding foundational items):

380 items!

I can start to rationalize by saying that 30% (115 items) of this is the stuff I sleep, lounge, or workout in – and the stuff I sleep / lounge in are old clothes that I’m “recycling.”  I do the wash twice a week, so this is utterly ridiculous – why would I hold on to this much to stuff to sleep in!  Another shocker are the 50 t-shirts I have.  Many of these are long-sleeved and most are plain, but I still can’t believe I have 50 t-shirts because I DON’T EVEN WEAR T-SHIRTS THAT OFTEN!  I have more shoes than I thought:  19 pairs.  Most are flip-flops or sandals that I never wear anymore but haven’t gotten rid of.

And why do you worry about clothes? Notice how the lilies in the field grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth.  But I say to you that even Solomon in all of his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these. If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, won’t God do much more for you, you people of weak faith? – Matthew 6:28-30 (CEB)

I have pulled 53 items out for donation and another 27 for a 7 clothing swap next week (most of the latter will be donated if no one wants them, but a few I’d probably keep).  This week, I’ve limited myself to 7 items.  My commitment in the weeks to come is to wear all of these clothes still in my closet and give away the ones that I’m really just not going to wear.  My challenge will be not to buy things to replace them – because it will be very east for me to justify some extra spring clothes because of all the thinning I’ve just done.

Lord, hear my prayer.

Therefore, don’t worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’  Gentiles long for all these things. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:31-33 (CEB)

Day 2

Other than not wearing green for St. Patrick’s Day, my clothes didn’t pose any problems.  It was a little chilly with just my fleece on and no gloves, but I wasn’t outside very much.  I’m more concerned about tomorrow morning when I go running.  It’s forecasted to be 25 degrees with 9 mph winds.  Maybe I should have picked some of my many long-sleeved t-shirts or a sweatshirt but I wanted normal clothes to wear for a few meetings I have this week.

I went to Goodwill today to take in the items I pulled out of my closet yesterday.  Dave had also gone through his closet so there were a lot of bags in my car.  I was a little embarrassed.  The stunner, though, was that he asked me if I wanted coupons for Boston Store.  I guess there is a promotion going right now that if you donate to Goodwill you get coupons to buy new stuff at Boston Store.  I guess this raises awareness for Goodwill and may encourage some people to donate that otherwise would not.  But since I was there in the midst of 7, it seemed utterly ridiculous.  This was the opposite of 7!

When Jesus heard his answer, he said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” – Luke 18:22 (NLT)

My Goodwill experience was further informed by the sermon I heard last night on Luke 18:18-23.  Jesus’ command to the rich young man has five imperative verbs:  Go!  Sell!  Give!  Come!  Follow!  The English translations ignore the first verb, but it’s there in the Greek.  I’m not even close to selling everything I have and giving it to the poor, but it seems that I must take a step this way in order to come and follow Jesus.  It’s not so much that it’s a prerequisite, a box that must be checked but rather that I’m not physically or emotionally able to come and follow Jesus if I’m holding on to all of my stuff.  380 pieces of clothing – can you imagine how many suitcases I would need to lug around!  When I think about how much time (and money) I spend taking care of all my stuff, how could there be time for anything else?

I don’t want to walk away from Jesus because I can’t walk away from my stuff.    In Mark’s version of this story (10:17-22), it says that Jesus looked at him and loved him as he said these words.  Even though the Greek verbs are all in the imperative (commands), I think Jesus meant this as an invitation.  I hear Jesus saying it in the same way he said these words:

“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28 (CEB)

 Maybe they really are the same thing.

In case you are wondering what this crazy is about, I am in week 2 of Seven:  An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.

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