Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Man in Black

What if I told you I've never listened to a Johnny Cash song all the way through?
(except maybe for movie soundtracks)
Nope. Not even Ring of Fire.

However, for the next 40+ days, I will be known as The Man in Black.

Today is Fat Tuesday (also known as Shrove Tuesday), and the Lenten season is upon us. Lent participants everywhere are scarfing chocolate chip cookies, going on booze benders, crafting Facebook posts about giving up Facebook, and trying to get their hands on Lenten Devotionals by N.T. Wright.

I've decided to give up fashion for Lent.

Wait - don't cut up my "man card" just yet.

I've always taken a lot of pride in my personal appearance. For a while, that pride took the form of fashion rebellion - purposefully dressing unfashionably - wearing vintage clothes, ridiculous Hawaiian shirts, old leather jackets and hats that looked like they came out of your grandfather's closet. That's right, I was "poppin' tags" long before Macklemore.

Later, I became more fashionable, prone to following trends. I dressed more edgy when I was in a rock band. I dressed more professional when I was working as a teacher. All the while, though, in one form or another, I always prided myself in the way I dressed.

In college, I went through a kind of spiritual experience, where I felt like God was trying to tell me that I didn't need to wear so many chains, leather bracelets and accessories. I had always done so to stand out, or to be unique, or to be, in some strange way, accepted. I believed that He was telling me that I am unique, by virtue of being me & by virtue of being His. What's more, in Christ He accepted me without all the external decoration...just as I am. For some reason, I felt I didn't need it anymore.

A few years ago, I was challenged, reading Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline, to try and present myself, my home and my life more simply, to embrace simplicity. In some ways, I succeeded and grew. In other ways, I failed...or at least have more growing to do.

I have a friend who lives and works as a missionary in a foreign country. There are often times when he and his family struggle to make ends meet. I was embarrassed, upon learning that his entire wardrobe is composed of about 8 t-shirts (all plain black) and 1 dress shirt. At the time, I had at least 100 tops. I've even more now.

So, with that history in mind, I give up fashion for Lent.

As I've always prided myself in my dress, this will be a lesson in humility.

In addition, I look forward to meditating upon the concept of how in Christ, we die to ourselves. Meaning our old way of life, our old desires, our claim to any rights whatsoever, are put to death, when we are born again into Christ.

Fashion has always been a form of self-expression for me, so I use this time during which I will be expressing less of myself, to focus on my identity in Christ.

So, what do I mean by giving up fashion?

Well, I will be dressing more simply. I will only wear black or white during the lenten season. I will wear no accessories, save my wedding ring. I will wear only my simplest pair of glasses, and I will keep my hair neat, clean and styled.

Exceptions will include Sundays, on which I will participate in the practice of mini-feasts, (expect me to bust out the technicolor dreamcoat on those days), times of exercise, or any day on which I have a job interview or work (praying I get a job sooner than Easter).

So that's it. I'm going to walk the line. I doubt it will hurt much, and hopefully, in the end, it will bring me closer to my personal Jesus.

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