In her book 7: An experimental Mutiny against Excess, Jen Hatmaker selected 7 items of clothing and wore only those seven items for a period of one month. In our Lenten experiment, we've given ourselves a week to confront this area.
I struggled a little bit with this chapter for two reasons: a) I work from home and when I write I always wear the same thing anyway -- an old, soft grey sweatshirt I've had for 17 years; and b) this is not an area in my life which is excessive. I am not a clothes horse, I don't spend exorbitant prices on clothing, and I periodically go through my closet and donate what I don't wear; in fact, my closet just went through a purge, so if I participated in this experiment like the author did, I would have nothing left.
Ultimately, I decided to approach this a little differently. Instead of thinking of clothing in the physical sense, I was going to think about clothing in the spiritual sense. Or, more specifically, the Christian armor mentioned in Ephesians 6:14-17. So, while the next 7 days won't be a traditional fast of giving something up, it will instead be a spiritual discipline on ways to exemplify integrity, purity, peace, faith, and mindfulness.
Here are some of my thoughts ...
1. The Girdle (Belt) of Truth: In Paul's day, the leather girdle was tightened around the waist. It was there for protection, as a means to carry weapons, and to hold the tunic together. Fastening the belt is an indication that one is ready for action.
In Christian armor the belt is integrity, which holds everything together.
Am I a person of integrity?
Am I being honest in my thoughts? Words? Deeds?
2. The Breastplate of Righteousness: Often made of woven chain, the purpose of the breastplate is to cover the vital organs.
For the Christian, the breastplate is righteousness.
Is my heart pure before God?
Is my mind?
Do I strive to do the right thing?
3. The Shoes of Peace: A soldier needs good shoes to provide solid footing.
For a Christian, the shoes are tranquility and worn to proclaim God's peace.
Am I an instrument of peace?
Am I at peace with my brothers and sisters, my neighbors, strangers?
Am I at peace with God?
4. The Shield of Faith: A Roman soldier's shield was often made of wood covered with leather to protect against flaming arrows.
For the Christian, the shield of faith is certainty.
Are there any seeds of doubt in my heart and mind?
Have a walked in faith?
Am I confident of God's love? Forgiveness? Salvation?
5. The Helmet of Salvation: For the soldier, the helmet is used as a protection for the head which is needed to think, act, decide.
For the Christian, the helmet is salvation and mindfulness of God's presence and grace.
Am I mindful of God presence?
Do I adore him? Glorify him? Offer him praises of thanksgiving?
6. The Sword of the Spirit of the Word: For the soldier, a sword was used as a weapon for both safety and protection.
For the Christian, the Sword of the Spirit of the Word is security; it is God revealing himself to us through Sacred Scripture and prayer.
Do I study God's word? Proclaim his message?
Am I prepared to defend his teachings?
Do I stand firm in my faith?
Do I acknowledge God's protection?
Finally, the post took me to a spiritual level which I am still struggling to grasp. But I am learning, so if you have anything to offer ... please do. And in case you missed it, go here for 7: Week One, Food.