During this Spring month of April (in spite of some recent snow showers) we are making our way through our home and our soul to intentionally lift out what needs to go, rearrange what we need to work differently for us, and bring out what reminds us of who we are so we rest in the goodness of God.
First we chose the room stealing our joy the most – and for me it was my kitchen. My soul was also being inundated by a voice that calls me a failure, and with my kitchen-in-chaos it seemed to echo the same refrain. You can see how we tackled both the chaos in the kitchen and in our mind here anytime.
The second week we moved into the spaces we rest, or want to rest! I’ve been studying my soul’s ability to rest in God’s presence and in my spaces for years as I seek to respond to stress in new ways, and I share some of my tips with you!
This week I tackle a project and mental space that honestly, is just too much for one week and one girl. So I’ve already decided that I’m going to come back to this conversation again this summer, because. A woman’s closet, her clothing, her relationship with her body and the thoughts she works against and aims to move toward…that’s worth an entire month of our attention in itself! And what better timing to practice new life-giving thoughts toward our bodies than in the summer when they see the light of day more than ever?
For this week though we will lay a sheer-coverage foundation we can build on later. This is going to skim the surface of both my closet makeover and my soul’s adjustments as I embrace the journey here more than the finish line. I hope you receive this same grace this week friends!
By now you may have picked up on my favorite word: lovely. There’s so much in that word and I’ll dig deeper into it this summer, but there is another word I enjoy but rarely use: adorn. Let’s look a little at this word and I’ll make a point — I promise.
to adorn: to make more beautiful or attractive; to enhance the appearance of especially with beautiful objects; to enliven or decorate as if with ornaments.
Do you believe you have a beauty to enliven? Do you look for clothes that enhance your unique beauty? Or do you fall in the trap like I have for years – trying to squeeze your beauty into the skinny-jean standards for “trendy” that change each season?
I’m not saying we won’t buy trendy items ever again, but what if the most fashionable trend is you dressed most you – with your beauty enlivened?
I’ve even tested it out. I’ve worn the trendy look that wasn’t quite me. I got compliments on the thing and felt ok but disconnected from my truest self. In contrast I took the time to settle the matter with my Creator that I’m lovely. I went into my closet and dressed myself as the me-loved: comfy jeans + soft t-shirt with a soft message + warm leather birks and glasses so I could see. The response was more from my own soul, though I did hear from others too. My own soul buzzed with joy and delight in being adorned with respect, dignity and touches that felt personal.
It’s like my soul knew she was loved, and there is nothing more attractive than a woman who knows she is loved!
Nothing fancy. Nothing to garner Instagram attention. But my soul and body felt loved, I felt enlivened and the clothing did the work of adorning what was already valued as beautiful.
The road to this inner pose was not one taken accidentally though, it was a road I chose (over and over)…and it took me through the scary woods of body shame, so be brave you lovely fashionistas!
Here is a tiny portion of the mental makeover I needed to engage before I even touched the clothes in my closet recently…and I’ll warn you, like all of these mental makeovers – they need to be repeated regularly! Don’t get discouraged when your soul springs back into a shame shape…muscle memory works against you in the beginning but it will work FOR you soon. Just keep making new paths for your thoughts!
For this week the form my “body shame” took was, “My body is not beautiful because…I’m too fat.” (This can vary up with other “too…” or “not enough…” verses so apply your own lens here).
This voice has been with me since I can remember, and it’s not as loud as it use to be (isn’t that a hopeful message for some of you feeling the heat of the struggle? You are not hopeless! Embracing God’s view of you really does change your perspective toward your body!)
I wish there was just one line of questioning that could snap us into a free state-of-mind with our body shame, but that would be a formula and there would be no need for a deepening in our dependency and relationship with God. At the heart of our struggle with body shame we find our problem not really with our bodies – but with our hearts. No diet or exercise routine on the planet can change what we see, think, believe and worship…so bringing my true heart before God is where I start today.
For this week I confess I care more about what others think of me than what God thinks of me. I am once again caught up in feeling inadequate in my beauty because I’m stuck in the trap of fearing rejection by peers. This fear shows up in perfectionism, insecurity and peer pressure to wear what is on-trend even if it isn’t me. I lose touch with what is and who is me and strive instead for the vague goal of popular to find my acceptance and worth.
The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” Proverbs 29:25
I turn to God’s Word and listen for God’s truth about my worth. I also let these questions on inadequacy found by Barb Raveling draw me deeper into an honest place with God in my heart:
- Why do you think you’re inadequate?
- What do you think you have to do or have to be – in order to be acceptable?
- Are you capable of making that happen right now?
- What do you look like when you see yourself through the eyes of the world and/or the eyes of your own expectations?
- Is that how God sees you?
- Who are you in God’s eyes, and how does He feel about you?
- How is God’s view of you different than your own view or the world’s view?
- If the living God, King of the Universe, says you’re acceptable, does anyone else, including you, have the right to say you’re unacceptable?
- Is God’s love enough to satisfy you even if you’re not the person you want to be?
- What can you thank God for in this situation?
Shew, these questions. To the degree I struggle with finding my satisfaction in God’s love and view of me, I will struggle with finding satisfaction in my body. I long for satisfaction too, we all do! But I’m prone to wander off into the the fields of idols (what my culture worships at the time) to find it when it is only found in the Gospel.
Do I really believe my identity in Christ is enough, or do I need something more?
It helps that I choose friends that reinforce what God says about our worth. Surrounding myself with messages and voices that echo God’s Word only helps me practice my new ways of thinking about my true identity, my purpose, my value and how to embrace my own beauty. The more I receive the grace of God, the more I want to steward the gifts of God – including my body. I want to live within boundaries and choose well so I nourish my soul and frame, and don’t work against it. Limiting what I read and watch also support my long-term goals of living free and loved so I share freedom and love with others.
And when I get completely lost in shame, as St. Benedict teaches — always we begin again.
Now to tackle the beast that is/was my closet!
When I first set out to do the overhaul I applied Marie Kondo’s question about joy to decide on which clothes stayed and which ones found a new home. (I’ll go back again through my closet using The Swap method to see the difference later but this week there was just only so much time!)
First, I piled all the clothes in one room. All of them. The second immediate thing I did was go brew a hot cup of espresso – twice. Every season, every legging, every dress piled up in my bedroom set off a twitch in my neck and I think this was the point. Maybe I first needed to feel exhausted by all the clothes so I could become more decisive and clear on what styles and items I truly enjoy?
Oh the piles.
So I am not even going to touch on what clothing stayed and what went. I still have a mess on my hands if I’m honest. Plus, we are not yet fully in Spring yet. We had snow showers this week so the winter pile had to stay longer than I had hoped. It would seem even the weather is reminding me to slow down and embrace this as a journey.
For this week I’ll just share some choices I made in creating a space for adorning in my closet – and not shaming. The first goal was to remove items I absolutely knew were not helping me embrace my loved-ness because they were either too tight or too threadbare. I exceeded the 100 item goal from week 1, I’m quite sure. I intentionally wanted space in my closet for enlivening words and art to greet me in the morning.
With a little breathing room in my closet I am finding space for grace to filter into my soul as well.
Both feel a little less cramped and a lot more loved.
And really, isn’t this the goal?
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:14-19 (emphasis added)