There are some great arguments about what a spiritual discipline truly is. Some people are locked into a ‘water only’ fasting regime, discounting anyone else’s attempts to gain proximity to Jesus through other types of biblical fasting. Let’s understand that all are created equal but with different ways of relating to God. It is sad to discount because in a rapidly changing culture, we should open the doors to what ever sacrifice someone is willing to make in order to create peace in their heart and cultivate a relaxed and healthy spirit.
This brings us to the popularity of minimalism. Sure, it is a fad. It is also no secret that I want to trade my large house for a tiny house and give everything (cats included) to someone else to deal with. I don’t like seeing things on the kitchen cupboards, I get frustrated in clutter and mess. Basically owning things does not spark joy. I love throwing things in the garbage or selling them to some sucker who wants my collection of antique cat clocks. But I wasn’t always like that. I had a shopping problem. I love shoes, coats, jeans, shirts or what ever else you can buy. Even if it had no purpose, just in case I may wear it once, I wanted it. This drove my consumer debt up and caused tension in all sorts of areas. That is not a sign of a soul at rest. I made the decision a few years back to only wear two colours of t shirts: Black and White. I also started wearing one type and one style of jean in various colours . (I buy Nudie Skinny Lin or Grimm Tims 31×30’s if you are feeling generous)
Here is why.
When I would get ready to leave the house I would panic. I would panic getting ready for work. I especially hated my clothes first thing in the morning and couldn’t handle the simple stress of deciding what to wear. I have even made myself late for work because I couldn’t handle the stress of getting dressed or not having perfectly combed hair. For what ever reason, picking out clothes became a big decision every day. Today, I know that my options exist inside of what I can layer on top of a t shirt and jeans, and life has become much easier. Chances are really high that if you have seen me speak somewhere, at a back yard fire, picking up groceries or go to the pub (of course just for wings) I was wearing jeans, t shirt and a jean jacket (because I can’t afford a cool biker jacket). It is my uniform. The uniform mentality has saved me a lot of stress. I know that stress does not come from God or any place rational. So if I can make the easy move of eliminating tension created by culture, I win. I now find my heart at ease. I don’t want my heart to be tied up accumulating things, I want my heart to be tied up becoming a better dad, husband, friend, son, brother, student and pastor.
Here are some practical techniques I use to become more spiritual through my wardrobe. Yes, I am trying to sell this as spirituality.
- It is easy to try a capsule wardrobe. Pick out 32 items. I do pants, shirts, sweaters and shoes. I skip counting underwear (because I am not always up on the laundry) and outerwear. (because I live in the SK, I need different coat temperatures. But I do limit the styles to one per temperature setting) Once I limited that stuff I put the stuff I didn’t plan on wearing in a suitcase and hauled it downstairs. Now set the 3 month timer and see how you do with your 32 favourite things.
- The quality over quantity technique is actually cheaper in the long run. Try it for a year and run the numbers. One day you will realize you don’t even go to the discount store anymore. You don’t go because you don’t need new clothes. What you have is good enough and you actually like what you have. You will save money and keep yourself out of debt. It might look like you are spending more up front but that will change when your clothing budget curves. Multiple pairs of $30 jeans vs one pair of better jeans is a better move, but you have to stop buying the $30 jeans at the same time.
You can continuously replace worn out jeans or buy better quality and not waste your money and material. The culture that we have created around throw away clothing isn’t good for us or the plant.
What if we could eliminate the things that cause us stress in order to find more pockets of peace inside our days? I am finding peace every day because of these little simplicity tricks like capsule wardrobes.
3. I buy one brand of jeans because I like the way they fit and don’t wear out on me. If you buy raw denim you can extend their life with some clever no-wash techniques. I have a pair that has never been washed and they still look amazing after two years. That is where brands like Nudie or Neuw come in. I have two pairs that are over two years old and I am wearing one pair that is about five years old. You will find yourself repairing better denim and not just throwing it out.
I do this with t shirts too. Buy a cheap plain t shirt, then get some staple items that you can layer overtop. MeUndies makes a great t shirt that lasts a long time. For layering items go to a great local mens shop that can give you options and direct you in the right direction. I generally just go to BoysOnThird site to find what I want. Most of what I own has come from their shop. The guys there are honest about what will look good on you and what won’t. I still haven’t found one that I am happy with in Saskatoon so I keep going back to Medicine Hat. I appreciate their honesty. It is worth the drive. Good jeans + t shirt + button down = fancy enough for everything but a wedding.
Remember, Michael Scott even had his fun jeans!
OR to be perfectly honest, sometimes I am lazy and go to Michael’s during their coupon days and buy ten black t shirts for $20. A plain t shirt is a plain t shirt.
4. I like simple so keep it really simple. Pick one style and stick to that. I buy the same looking t shirts. (other than band shirts, retired punks still need these at 40) If I open my drawer and look down, there is a row of black and a row of white. 90% of these shirts are plain. I fought the feelings to be trendy and buy cool for over a year. Now I just don’t care. The simple look made my life better. I can’t even recognize most ‘cool’ brands now and I am happy about it! I do look like I am wearing the same thing I did yesterday, and the day before that but I am ok with it. At least I don’t show up at Wal Mart in my pyjamas in the middle of the day.
Matthew 6:25-34 The Message (MSG)
25-26 “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
27-29 “Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
You don’t need to give everything away to find peace today, but I am sure you can find something to give up that is going to give you peace and create more proximity with Jesus. Search that out and find peace for yourself. Maybe it’s your wardrobe maybe it’s your kitchen cupboard or your vintage clown painting collects that need to get altered.
It isn’t hard to make everything in your life spiritual, because it probably already is. Just accept that even your clothing decisions and shopping habits speak to greed and unrest. Conquer that, find some peace, then move on and find more pockets of peace.
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