My Year With­out Clothes

The sur­pris­ing re­sult!

Activated - - FRONT PAGE - By Jessie Richards Jessie Richards had a role in the pro­duc­tion of Ac­ti­vated from 2001 to 2012, and has writ­ten a num­ber of ar­ti­cles as an Ac­ti­vated staff writer. She has also writ­ten and edited ma­te­rial for other Chris­tian pub­li­ca­tions and web­sites. ■

Well, not lit­er­ally. I can ex­plain.

At the start of last year, I made a res­o­lu­tion to not pur­chase any new clothes or shoes that year. I had a com­bi­na­tion of rea­sons for that:

I didn’t need more shoes and clothes. I’m not one of those shopa­holic types, and with a com­bi­na­tion of go­ing to plenty of garage sales, oc­ca­sional on­line shop­ping, and hav­ing lots of girl­friends around to swap with, I al­ready had a lot of stuff!

I had re­cently read about a grow­ing move­ment of peo­ple who had de­cided they would only own 100 items. I did some quick cal­cu­la­tions

1 and de­cided that wasn’t ex­actly for me, but I ad­mired the con­cept. And I had ex­actly zero set aside in sav­ings at the time, and I wanted to change that.

As it turned out, I ended up get­ting more new clothes and shoes within that year than I had in the pre­vi­ous sev­eral years, de­spite not buy­ing any of them. That was due to a com­bi­na­tion of vis­its with my mother, sis­ter, and sis­ter-in-law—all of whom had a stash set aside for me—and gifts from other friends. Granted, not ev­ery­thing was brand-new, but some was—and it was all new to me. So, the happy news is that I got va­ri­ety in my wardrobe and shoe-drobe (shouldn’t that be a word?) with­out hav­ing spent a penny on it.

I woke up this morn­ing think­ing about that de­ci­sion and that year and how well it went. I strongly sus­pect that my re­call­ing that sit­u­a­tion was some­how con­nected to the mi­nor panic I’ve been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing over the last few days in think­ing about my cur­rent fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion. I’ve re­cently re­lo­cated, bring­ing about a lot of changes in my life, and I’m fac­ing some, shall we say, chal­lenges. I have a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence in be­ing fru­gal, I’m dis­ci­plined in my bud­get­ing and spend­ing, and I think that with a lit­tle cau­tion I’ll be okay.

Any­way, I sup­pose my “year with­out clothes” came to mind be­cause God was re­mind­ing me that, as I like to say, “Stuff works out.” Dur­ing that year, spend­ing less time and money pur­su­ing the ac­qui­si­tion

of things didn’t ac­tu­ally re­sult in my lack­ing any­thing. If in the near or dis­tant future there is a month, or even a year, when I have to do with­out buy­ing a cer­tain thing, could I maybe trust God to bring it along in some un­ex­pected way? I think so.

I of­ten feel I don’t have a lot to show as far as man­i­fes­ta­tions of God’s in­volve­ment and ac­tiv­ity in my life. I love Him, we spend time to­gether, and I know His pres­ence is al­ways with me … but once in a while some­one asks me to tell them about “some­thing won­der­ful or a mir­a­cle God’s done for you,” and I kind of hem and haw and usu­ally can’t think of any­thing off­hand.

I used to feel hor­ri­ble about that, un­til I came to ac­cept that my life is prob­a­bly one of those where God just doesn’t work in a “showy” way. He’s en­ti­tled to that, and I’m not en­ti­tled to ex­pect Him to treat me in a par­tic­u­lar way. But then, there are sweet lit­tle things like this, where I can see with hind­sight that God could very well have had a hand in how things played out. I can’t quite bring my­self to be­lieve that He cared as much as I did about me get­ting more shoes, but He at least did care about help­ing me re­al­ize that if I trust Him, I’ll al­ways have what I need, and some­times even what I want—even if it’s not through the chan­nels I ex­pect or be­cause of my best-laid plans.

An­other thing I came to re­al­ize dur­ing my “year with­out clothes” was how much I had in many ways. For ex­am­ple, I had a job at a time when a lot of peo­ple didn’t. I’ve never been home­less. And con­trary to what you might have thought when read­ing the ti­tle of this ar­ti­cle, I’ve never had to run around with­out clothes ei­ther! I’ve had things pretty good.

On the prac­ti­cal side, this ex­per­i­ment also kept me from hav­ing even more stuff than I do, which was good, be­cause as it was, I had to trim down when I moved ear­lier this year.

All in all, I’ve felt richer since then.

I be­lieve God is man­ag­ing af­fairs and that He doesn’t need any ad­vice from me. With God in charge, I be­lieve ev­ery­thing will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about?— Henry Ford (1863–1947)

If you get too at­tached to how you want it to come out on the other side, you freeze. I try to trust that it will work out in the end.— Jennifer Con­nelly (b. 1970)

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