Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On The Brink of Stage 4



I’ve always been more than a little fashion conscious.  Not in the sense that I keep up with trends, but in the sense that I’ve always been particular about what I wear.  I guess you could say that I’m fashion self-conscious.  In middle school, I was so desperate to be accepted that I was like a lame chameleon whose mother only shopped at Ross.  I would wear silly Reebok t-shirts, with football slogans written on them (I definitely didn’t play football.  I tried out for the team, but that’s a story for another blog post).  I even tried dressing like a cowboy, once in 7th grade, hoping that my sudden conversion to Wranglers would lead to sudden boost in popularity.  FAIL. In high school, I wore ripped jeans, red, silver and black band t-shirts and a lot of chains.  As I graduated high school and moved on to college, I had evolved into what I called a vintage punk.  I wore flare-leg jeans, corduroy, polyester and a lot of terry cloth.  Two other things happened during that era as well.  I noticed that I wore mostly earth tones (after learning what an earth tone was).  In addition, I was also layering open Hawaiian shirts, over ribbed a-shirts (commonly known as the ‘wife-beater’).  Between the terry cloth and the beaters, I wasn’t exactly what one would call fashion forward.  And I liked it that way.  I liked that I was a non-conformist.  I liked that I didn’t wear brand-names, especially not emblazoned across my scrawny chest.  I was ashamed of how hard I had tried in middle school and reveled in the liberation I found in ‘not caring’.  In reality, I did care a great deal.  I cared that people knew I had unique, kitschy, ironic and non-conformed taste in clothes.  
Then, one day, in my second year of college, I was going through a prayer labyrinth, as part of our school’s spiritual emphasis week. I was at a station which had a large mirror.  The guide track (cd player, soothing voice, brittish accent, mystical music) told me to look at myself in the mirror…not to look at my clothes, but to look at myself; to attempt to see myself as God sees me.  I realized that I was having a hard time seeing past the image I had created for myself.  I was having trouble seeing the forest, for the chains.  There, on my knees before that mirror, I felt as if the Holy Spirit was prompting me to simplify my appearance.  To stop trying to create an image…to simply be myself, and in that to better discover the man God wanted me to be.  
That was an important day for me.  It was freeing.  I stopped wearing almost all forms of jewelry (except for some silly black friendship bracelets that I had been given. they meant more to me than the friends who jokingly gave them to me realized).  I didn’t put on a necklace or bracelet for at least a year after that.  
After I left college, I moved to Northern California.  As a decent waiter, with very cheap rent, I had expendable income for the first time in my life.  I quickly fell in love with Old Navy.  That was my gateway drug.  I was soon slightly addicted to shopping.  I wasn’t out of control — at first.  
After getting married, combining dual incomes, credit cards, a nesting instinct and a wife who enjoyed clothes almost as much as me, I did nearly lose control.  It was only by God’s grace that I was able to have a bucket of cold organic water metaphorically splashed in my face.  I called my student loan holder, because it didn’t seem that we were making any headway on my debt, even though we were paying above the minimum monthly payment.  I asked them how long it would take, at the rate I was paying, to be completely debt free.  I nearly dropped the phone when the woman on the other end said it would take 18 years. 
We knew something had to change.  Within six months we had drastically changed not only our lifestyles, but our occupations, goals and the country we lived in.  
That didn’t end our struggles with materialism, but that phone call and the changes we subsequently made in our lives were a catalyst on the road to recovery.  
About a year and a half after moving to Korea, my wife and I were reading through Richard Fosters brilliantly challenging Celebration of Discipline. His chapter on the discipline of simplicity rocked us.  We felt the need to simplify our lives in many ways.  One practical area that we were especially convicted of was our clothing: both the amount of clothing we had and the types of clothing we wore.  We really liked to be stylish.  We prided ourselves on dressing well.  Ferial loved to wear fun bright patterns, and I really liked artistic printed tees, like the ones at Fullbleed. However, we really felt as if God wanted us to simplify our wardrobes, by  not only getting rid of many things, but my also simplifying what we were wearing.  This is a process, and God is still working on us in this area (especially me).  We have made some changes though. Both of us have started shopping for more solid colors and basics that can be layered and used in many different ways. For example, I rarely wear any printed tees anymore.  I have also been wearing v-necks.  
Which brings me to the title of this blog.  It’s quite amazing to me, how sometimes I can have an idea for a blog, and once I start writing it gets a mind of its own, and becomes something I never planned on it being.  This was initially going to be a short funny post, based on another blog I recently read.  Well, now that’s the way this is going to end.  If you’ve stayed with me this long, hang tight.  We’re almost done.  
I believe I have stage 3 DVS, and I’m well on my way to stage 4.  
At this point, you have to follow this link, and read Jon Acuff’s post on DVS.  Seriously, you have to read it.  If you go on reading this post without having first clicked through to that link, I’ve embedded an HTML code that will destroy the internets.  Not only that, it will wipe your hard-drive of all your most important documents and pictures, leaving only the images in which you look stupid and your NSFW web-browser history…you naughty boy.  
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Well, now that you are familiar with this disorder that plagues my generation, I covet your prayers.  I have found myself judging my non-v-necked tees, and I have considered cutting one or two of my crew-necks on more than one occasion. 
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Perhaps I do still care a bit too much about how I am dressed.

**This blog is a repost I wrote for an old blog by the same name**

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