During celebrity awards shows, people interested in the fashion world wait expectantly to see what glamorous “looks” will be worn. They watch for the most beautiful presentation, according to the current fashionable ideal. Those hoping to measure up to this ideal focus a lot of energy and attention on achieving this goal.
As someone who has worked in the field of fashion design for many years, I’ve come to see that there is nothing wrong with looking well put together, but there is something wrong if striving to achieve an ideal upsets us or takes us away from putting God first in our lives.
Is our “trendiness” important to God? Or does God look at the heart to see who’s “best dressed” in gratitude, loving her or his neighbor, doing good deeds? What kind of beauty lasts and blesses others, and what kind of spiritual “wardrobe” are we building for ourselves? Is it established where “moth and rust doth corrupt” (Matthew 6:19), or is it a heavenly wardrobe filled with selfless acts and a loving attitude toward others?
Many of us have had the experience of feeling uncomfortable in what we were wearing. One could say that David had that experience when he went to fight Goliath (see I Samuel 17:38–40). The king gave him his own royal armor to wear. It must have been the fanciest, most beautiful armor, and perhaps anyone would have loved to wear such a great outfit into battle. But it didn’t feel right to David. Instead, he went into battle with his usual outfit, which included the spiritual “armor” of God.
The Bible gives us some great pointers on what to wear: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. . . . Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:11, 14–17).
Wow! What a great outfit. And what great accessories. This outfit is readily available to everyone, and you don’t need to use your credit card to get it. It does cost something, though. You have to give up matter-based thinking about yourself and see the perfect expression of God that you already are right now.
Let's keep that innocence and receptivity to beauty that a child feels.
Mortal mind, the name for the mistaken belief that we can be something other than the perfect man or woman of God’s creating, tempts us to feel less than whole. Sometimes the temptation is to fixate on imperfections of the body, or lack of funds for buying fashions we might want. Sometimes the concept of aging detours us from fully realizing that we express the beauty of God’s being. The truth is, we all can feel with certainty that we reflect the beauty of divine Soul, and this is not some kind of “consolation prize” for not looking like a perfect physical specimen.
We all know people from our childhood who just seemed beautiful to us; something about them just made them attractive. Attraction is a quality of Love, another name for God, and that’s what we saw in those individuals that made them special to us. Let’s keep that innocence and receptivity to beauty that a child feels. Let’s appreciate artistry in fashion when we see it, but give up judging people and ourselves on appearance and wardrobe.
When we feel beautiful spiritually, we are expressing our true selves. God made us beautiful. So as you put yourself together today, ask, “What should I wear for this day that God has given me?” Hymn 342 from The Christian Science Hymnal tells us: “This is the day the Lord hath made” and: “In shining robes of joy arrayed / Be glad, give thanks, rejoice.”
Wear your robe of joy! Don’t focus on a matter-based perception of who you are, or restrict yourself to a current notion of what’s “in.” Don’t let comparisons deflect you from seeing all the good and the beauty God pours into our lives every moment. As a unique expression of God, you reflect Soul’s radiance and the beauty of holiness.
Moira Doyle teaches fashion design at a private college in Los Angeles.
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