Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My Journey Through 7:An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess"-Clothes Week

One of our church's ladies Bible study this spring is Jen Hatmakers "7. An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess".

In its most basic form the premise is to "fast" from seven areas of modern life for seven weeks, one area per week. The seven areas are:
  • Clothes
  • Food
  • Media
  • Possessions
  • Waste
  • Stress
  • Shopping
I was excited about this study because I've always wanted to do something similar in a much more looser and relaxed manner and in some of the areas but not all of the areas and probably for the wrong reasons, selfish reasons. I do realize that my family, like most Americans, suffer from the modern diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence, but my original reasons to wanting to do something like this was to purge my life of clutter, and to " force" my family to purge their life to make my life cleaner, neater and easier. Yeah, wrong reasons indeed. And I'll get more into that later.
Of course, the first two weeks of this study, I was out of town. I had great intentions to start while out of town... But Jen really goes into making sure your heart is prepared and in the right place before doing a fast. She refers back to scripture and what a fast should look like. Reading those scriptures, especially the picture Isaiah 58 (go ahead, go read it) paints of a fast, really spoke to me, and I realized that I wouldn't get anything out of this study or experience without really preparing my heart. And being on the road working 14 hours a day non stop in high stress situation with public and delivering bad news, probably would not be the ideal situation to start a study like this. So I waited until I got home.

I started with Clothes. As early as Day 2 of my clothing fast, and I  already learned some things about myself.

First off, in her Book, Jen suggests we count the items in our closet. As ladies started posting the number of items on our Church's Facebook page, I admittedly looked at some of the numbers (200,300,400) and thought..ha there is no way I have close to that many items of clothes. I mentioned this to my husband and he agreed. I mean, I've spent all year losing weight and tossing clothes I've shrunk out of, and I haven't replenished what I've tossed because I'm still losing. So I started the task of counting. 177 items of clothes including shoes, scarves, underwear, pajamas, etc between my closet and my dresser, AFTER PURGING CLOTHES ALL YEAR.  What does anyone need with 177 items of clothes? I purged that down to 75 pieces...in the first pass . I am going back to purge again. Do I need that many clothes? If I answer honestly, no. I can easily justify those clothes with " I work hard for my money, and I deserve it". I work in a professional setting, I need clothes for work. Yada, yada, yada. First of all, it's not my money, it's God's money. And I have a deep desire to further Gods kingdom .   How many times could I have showed Christ like love by fulfilling a need with money I used to buy a 50 or 100 dollar pair of pants I really didn't need?   Whether that need was a blanket for a homeless person, a meal for a child who's parents have fallen on hard times, or whatever.  I certainly did not necessarily always need a piece of clothing when I bought it, want it, yup, absolutely, but need it, nope not at all.   So by day two I already realized that yes, I can be judgemental (noway I have as many clothes in the closet as THOSE girls, my friends, my sisters in Christ), and I had a lot of clothes I just really did not need.  And the real reason to be conscious of how I spend "my" money on myself.   Here is my pile of purged clothes before I tool them to church where they went to a few well choose intentional organizations like a homeless shelter and a home for abused women:

There was another pile that just was not acceptable for donation on any level, why I still had them, I am  not sure.

When Jen Hatmaker and her group of friends she lovingly refers to as the council did this, she chose seven pieces of clothing to wear for a whole month.  Ok, I thought easy peasy.  I only have to do this for a week.  I can pick seven pieces of clothing.  Well on day two I already was justifyng why Jen could do it an not me (I work outside the home, I workout 4 days a week, etc, etc).   My workout clothes alone take up three pieces of clothes, one pair of pants, one shirt, and a pair of shows.  The shirt and pants would be totally not acceptable to wear to work even on casual Fridays and I had five days of work to cloth myself.  So my list of clothing for the week was as follows:
  •  I counted the workout clothes in their ensemble as one piece of clothing. 
  •  Khaki pants,
  • Jeans,
  • Solid T shirt to wear around house on weekends
  • One short sleeve shirt for work
  • one long sleeve shirt for work and church
  • night clothes.
  • One pair of shoes (casual heels to wear with khakis)
I know its more than 7..no need t o point it out.   Really!

I did not count underwear.  I also limited myself in what I put on my face to the following:
  • Cleanser
  • Moisturizer
  • Foundation
  • Blush
  • Mascara
  • Eyeliner
So Days one and two...20 degrees when I left the house.   No jacket, cold.  I did not cheat, I stuck to the plan.  The make up the entire week..so easy.  Clothes..oh my not so easy.  Saturday, we went shopping for my daughters Birthday, I did not shower or do hair, I threw on a hat, and my loving supportive husband casually asked me after we are at the store, is that hat part of your designated wardrobe?  Really!  couldn't you have pointed that out before we left?  And I certainly don't see you go through this little experiment"  (ok so maybe my hear was a little far off that day)!    I also was trying  not to do my laundry for the entire week as well, after all, many countries do not have the luxury of throwing their clothes in the wash like we do.  Yup, I made a birthday cake Saturday, and anyone who knows me knows I am not the neatest cook in the world, so I ended up with strawberry cake batter all over my T Shirt and Jeans.   I canned strawberry preserves Sunday, yep, all over my short sleeve shirt for work and church.  Its the last day, I did not do laundry, and I woke up this morning and put on two pieces of clothing not on my list, I caved.  However, I realized during this whole experience how much I take for granted having a sweater or a coat to throw over me when I am cold, or a hat to put on my Medusa (as my kids describe it) like hair, or the washing machine and dryer sitting two steps away from my kitchen where I can easily wash a whole weeks worth of clothes in less than an hour.  Or...better yet, not do laundry for 2 or 3 weeks because I have enough clothes to get me through those 2 or 3 weeks without washing.  

Today  is the last day of the clothes fast for me.  I am bored with the same clothes (as indicated by my cave in...but I also did not do laundry and just cold not bring myself to wear stained shirts either),  but I am ever more aware of how I spend  money entrusted to me on clothes.   It's became a lesson on how do I want to spend God's money on myself, by over stuffing my closet or by being more intentional so I can use the money in some other way to show Christ's love?   If you remember Isaiah 58 VS 6 it says:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice    and untie the cords of the yoke,to set the oppressed free    and break every yoke?'

 What does that mean and how can I apply that to how i buy clothes? Have you ever thought about where your clothes come from.  Some people are so on the buy American Bandwagon, but when you cannot how much thought goes into the labor practices that the manufacturer used to produce that piece of clothing.  Oh boy, just a little research and I was mortified, I read a statistic that there are more slaves in the world today than any other time in history, and the apparel industry is one of the worse offenders.    I  became more aware of the clothing industry itself.  Do I want to spend the money God has entrusted me with to support companies that encourage human or child trafficking, or sweat shop type conditions?  NO!  Jen made me aware of resources I can use easily to see if a piece of clothing I am buying utilizes labor practices that encourage trafficking or not. After all, money is what drives trafficking and oppression of any sort, and I am going to do all I can to make sure the money entrusted to me does not support this type of activity.  The resource she mentioned, is called free2work a project of not notforsale.  Free2work its a handy dandy little app I can download to my phone and scan a bar code of a piece of clothing and receive a grade A-F on that company.  I used it when buying Phoenix's birthday gifts, and the clothes I scanned got a grade of B.  Acceptable in my book.    

The other thing I learned is when purging clothes, I am going to be a lot more intentional in where it goes.  It's not going to a Goodwill (I could go into my thoughts on Goodwill, but won't)  store for sure.    Actually, mine will be going to houses that shelter abused women and their children, as that is a cause near and dear to my heart.  I think its more meaningful when you can connect with the people you are donating to.

Next week I'll be focusing possessions, and I have a craft room full of supplies I have refused to let go of or purge, and I am not sure why.   I am also including the kids in this one.  Phoenix seemed OK, but Griffin was quick to point out he does not have that many toys.   I think this area may be a little harder for me and my family.

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