I admit, I considered trying today’s Hole in our Gospel Action Item – to wear the same clothes two days in a row – but I chickened out. I thought about how that might feel: to wear the exact same shirt, skirt, shoes and jewelry two consecutive days to work. And I knew I couldn’t do it. Not because I’d feel unclean or rumpled, but simply because I’d be embarrassed.
If I’d been able to explain exactly why I was wearing the same outfit two days in a row to my female coworkers (I suspect many of the men wouldn’t have noticed the wardrobe repetition), I might have forged ahead. “It’s a poverty experiment for my church group,” I imagined myself saying. “I’m experiencing what it might be like to own only one set of clothes.”
But I knew that would have defeated the point. After all, people living in dire poverty don’t have the option to explain why they wear the same clothes day after day. Nor do they have to…because it’s a given for them and most of the people they know.
For people living in dire poverty, owning a single set of clothes isn’t an experiment – it’s a reality.
The reason I chose not to wear the same outfit two days in a row is because I was concerned about my coworkers’ judgment. Would they think I was slovenly? Forgetful? Lazy? Would they suspect I’d had a wild night? Would they talk behind my back?
“…Let not the rich boast of his riches…” (Jeremiah 9: 23).
I’ve never considered that my clothes and accessories might be a badge of pride or a form of boasting. After all, I’m not particularly label or brand-conscious. But the fact that I was unwilling to wear the same outfit two days in a row tells me I am prideful indeed.
Lord, thank you for helping me recognize my prideful and boastful ways. Please help me better align my priorities with you, rather than with societal norms and expectations. Help me value kindness, justice and righteous over material possessions, and desire only your delight rather than the shallow praise of my friends.
What about you? Do you think you could wear the exact same outfit two days in a row to work? Or might you chicken out like me?
This post is the last one in the series on The Hole in Our Gospel, by Richard Stearns. Six other writers and I wrote a post a day for six weeks as part of my church’s small group study. Want to read other reflections? Click here. And thanks for coming along on the study!
Image: Pedro Mae, the Bolivian boy we sponsor through Compassion. I suspect he doesn’t have multiple outfits to choose from every day.