For the record, I love other people’s clothes. I really enjoy a good “poke” around a charity shop and nothing excites me more than finding a good bargain – something I know has a bit of ‘history’ to it. I regularly give our clothes to a charity shop and over the last 4 years many of Reuben’s clothes and toys have come from same. It’s safe to say that this post is not about shopping or not shopping in charity shops – would you really want to read it, if it was?! In truth, this has little to do with actual clothes…
“Stop putting on other people’s clothes!”
are words I heard, literally and spiritually, one Sunday morning, not so long ago, on our journey to church. I wasn’t in a great place that morning – I had spent most the previous day and all the night before (no sleep for me) in tears. I was feeling lost, alone, forgotten, excluded, uncertain, useless and questioning everything about myself.
I jumped into the car, flustered as we were late and I’d left Reuben’s all important snack on the counter. The radio was on BBC Ulster and the Sunday Morning Service was coming from Open Skies with Jason Upton preaching. I wasn’t really listening, it was just more noise in the background, until I heard these words and they jumped out from the airwaves and hit me straight in the heart. I knew they were for me and I needed to hear them –
“You have been missing the windows God has for you because you are dressing yourself up as your brother, trying to receive a blessing from your father”
(Reference to the story of Jacob & Esau – Gen 25)
“You don’t have to do that – be who I’ve formed you to be”….
And that’s when I felt God say to me “Stop putting on other’s people’s clothes!”.
I realise some of you joining me on the blog may not share my faith. But I guess you’ll know the type of thing I’m referring to. For example, when you log onto Facebook and someone shares an encouraging meme and it’s “just the thing” you needed to see in that moment of time. It feels like it was “meant for you”, even though they don’t know it, or you don’t even know them! For me, when that happens, I believe God is getting my attention, speaking to me, or leading me.
This was one of those times. It felt like my heart hurt – as if it could BURST – because I knew beyond any doubt that God was speaking to me and I had to stop and listen.
Lindsay “Stop putting other people’s clothes!”
I didn’t have to even ask Him what He meant, I knew right away. I have been “putting on other people’s clothes” for so long – literally, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – the mirror is not the only one who knows it. Having been wearing them for so long, I’m now only accepting that they don’t fit; they don’t suit me; they constrain me; and I don’t even really like them!
I could pretend that I don’t know when it began to happen, but I do. I can see the roots and they have taken hold and grown wild, over the last 9 plus years. Here’s the issue – God has given me gifts, abilities and things that are very clearly MINE to do in Him and for Him but along the way, before Postnatal Depression ever hit, these began to get muddled.
God has spoken words of purpose and calling over my life. Some others have spoken rejection, disbelief, and down right disdain that I might ever choose to believe what God has for me. I have let these voices win – out of fear; out of not wanting to ‘rock the boat’; out of wanting a ‘easy life’; wanting to be accepted; needing to hide and be unseen; and because I’ve been hurt one time too many that I don’t have the reserves to go forward.
And so, I started to put on other people clothes. Sometimes in order to leave my own abilities, gifts and calling slightly to side; other times to make them completely redundant altogether.
Instead I choose to see where I could ‘fit in’, with what other people were doing and pursuing. I’ve tried to find ‘other ways’ of using my talents, that would, could and should be more palatable to the mainstream and would still allow me “a place in the crowd”.
At the start the clothes worked well – I felt accepted and they looked “good on me”. Strangely, they gave me confidence but that confidence was in myself and not from God. Lately, they have become a burden – too big or too small; to worn, tatty and tired looking; and in many cases absolutely filthy and not the sort of dirt that the washing machine can handle.
In the last few months, I have even found myself PHYSICALLY trying to put on other people’s clothes – this has been the last straw. Not ” great wee finds” from the local charity shop but sizing up what other people where buying or wearing and trying to copy their styles and vibe – with the hope that would dress me for success. I have found myself looking at people on Facebook, or those I work alongside, and hunting down clothes to match. What. on. earth? I don’t even like them (the clothes) and they do absolutely nothing for me, except cost a fortune that I don’t have.
Lindsay “Stop putting other people’s clothes!”. When I heard those words a few weeks ago I knew enough was enough. This is not who God formed me to be. I am 100% missing out on the life; the journey; experiences; people; challenges; mountain tops and the deep valleys He has for me because I’m trying to be someone else and scared to death to be who I really am.
And if that weren’t enough, dressing as someone else has made me into someone I don’t like.
I accept and admit I can often be jealous of other people’s calling – their pursuit of it and success in it. I HATE that in me. Being constantly consumed by it is destroying me. I see others success as a reflection of my “failure” and it comes out in jealousy because I am not allowing myself to be free. I am not allowing myself to follow who I am made to be – I detest that in me. That “look” absolutely, 100% is not me, nor the me I want to be.
So now is the time to strip – to take off what is not mine. To stop trying to fit and squeeze myself into a shape, size and mould that I’m not called to. To instead lift back up what God has graciously given me – that fits perfectly – and re-discover what life is like when I’m pursing who He has called me to be.
I’m aware that it’s likely to be an uphill struggle. These clothes fit me like a glove and they have been fashioned for me, long before I existed, but they’re not to everyone’s taste. Pursing the gifts and calling God has placed on my life will continue to be hard(er) because I’m a women (not a man) and much of the opposition will come because of that. There’ll be times (again) when people will want to rip them off me and dress me in something more suitable. But this time I won’t let them, I can’t let them. I know what happens when I dress in what isn’t mine (internally and externally) and I’d much prefer the battle that will wage when I choose to go forward with God, dressed in His clothes for me.
So, let me ask you – what you are wearing?
Are they clothes that you’ve begged or borrowed from someone else?
Or do they belong to you?
Because, let me assure you, I have learned the hard way that tailor-made always fits best!