On New Year’s Day, my annual ritual is to reflect on the past year by journaling and writing out prayers for the new year. I’ve never participated in New Year’s resolutions. But last January, as I sat in my teeny tiny one-bedroom apartment and stared at all the ways I was trying to make everything fit inside my teeny tiny one closet, I thought to myself: “no more clothes” and then immediately and in shock, “No More Clothes??”
Little did I know, the Spirit was moving in me to tell me to stop buying clothes. Stop online shopping, stop buying a new dress for every wedding or event or new outfit for singing at church on Sunday. Stop buying clothes.
So last year, (apart from one situation where the dress I was wearing to an event broke on the way there), I did not buy any new clothes. I resisted the desire to buy something new and instead reflected and prayed on that desire.
Many women, upon hearing about my commitment, would respond in shock with, “How can you possibly do that?” or they would offer alternative suggestions like, “What if every time you want something new, just donate something old?” The suggestions were tempting, but beyond the binds of this commitment, the Lord was teaching me about myself and about Him.
I could have chosen to commit to this without introspection, simply spend a year without buying clothes, but thankfully, the Lord was there responding to the times when I struggled with this year-long plan. (The ultimate first world struggle – I know!)
The Lord shifted my entire mindset towards clothes buying. Here are the 3 main things I learned:
1. The Lord wanted to shift my self-worth from clothes to how He sees me (and all His children!): I was putting my self-worth into what I wore. Wearing something new felt good to me and made me feel prettier and special.
But Psalm 139 says exactly how special we are, and it’s not about the outward appearance, but the Creator who lovingly formed us and called us His children, “You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them”
We are intricately made and loved from above and can be confident that He made us exactly as we are because He is perfect in everything He does. Sometimes I simply tell myself, “I am a child of God, nothing else matters except Him.”
2. He wanted me to be thankful for and content with what I had instead of filling my closets with more and more:
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Contentment was a huge part of what I needed to gain from this experience and Paul says that with prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving, peace will guard our hearts and minds. I wasn’t thanking the Lord for the ways He has provided. Everytime I had something special going on, I bought a new dress. I wasn’t able to look at what I already had, be thankful for and content with it, and use it in thankfulness. Shifting to prayer, praise, and thanks helped the Lord work in my mind and heart.
3. He wanted to be the most valued possession in my life and carry the most influence when I looked into a mirror: Clothes held a higher value than simply something that covered me–they were definitely more of an emotional want than a physical need.
Jesus says that the greatest commandment is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37
That means He gets all the space in my heart. When I am loving Him fully, thanking Him fully, seeking Him fully, there is no room for anything else.
Do you resonate with any of these thoughts? Maybe it isn’t clothes but something else you can think of that takes your time, thoughts, and money from the Lord. If so, you might want to try a cleanse from these things and see what happens and what the Lord does!
The Lord will fill your every need (if you let Him)
“Therefore, take no thought, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ (For the Gentiles seek after all these things.) For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be given to you.” Matthew 6:31-32
The Lord wants us to “seek Him first” before any other want or need. In my case, that was my prayer when I wanted to buy something. By praying through it, I began to shift my focus from myself (how I looked and what I wanted) to Christ. I prayed for thankfulness for what I had, contentment in what I had, and to see myself as He sees me. Over time, my personal perspective towards clothes buying changed. As Christ gained more of my heart, clothes lost more of their value. Instead of gaining clothes, I was gaining contentment in Him. If I had not surrendered clothes-buying to Him, there would not have been room for Him to teach me these things. I had to let Him work by letting go of what I thought would help me.
You are a prized and valuable possession
Only Jesus can make us truly feel and believe our worth. I didn’t fully believe how He saw me, hence why I would buy something new for every occasion because it would make me feel special. That feeling lasts just a moment and leads to more buying in the attempt to feel special again. Jesus can make us feel special in every moment, so much so that the “need” for looking nice can disappear and be replaced with contentment with what we have and what He has given us. That goes beyond the physical because the weight of the cross and choosing to die for us is the biggest gift ever! Every time I wanted to look pretty, I bought something as a temporary solution. I never gave Jesus the chance to show me how He sees me and start to believe it (See the Ephesians 1 exercise below)
2022 is here, and I have not returned to my old ways. When doubts of my value or worth creep in, I do the exercise below that I learned from a friend. I hope it transforms how you view yourself with Truths from His Word on how to view yourself. I hope this exercise brings you encouragement, contentment, joy, thankfulness, and fills you with the love He has for you.
Read Ephesians 1 below and insert your name or “me/I/my” every time you see “us/we/our.”
For example: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed (insert your name) in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…
Truly meditate on what this passage is saying about what God has given you, what He has done for you, and how much He loves you!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.