I remember the day my dad took me to one of those fancy department stores in the mall. He grabbed my hand and led me up the escalator to the most beautiful section of Christmas dresses. I'd tried some of them on before, but only for fun never actually taking one home. I was so excited as he let me pick out dresses to try on - I felt like a princess. There was one dress in particular that was hanging on display that I didn’t dare suggest to even try on. It was long black velvet with white lace dancing on the edges. It had puffy shoulder sleeves just like the classic Cinderella dress and a velvet hat to match. It was perfection. As I was trying on dresses my dad had the sales lady take the dress from the display and had me try it on. I walked out of the dressing room and met eyes with my dad. He looked at me with a big grin and said, "you look beautiful." I smiled and twirled around as he grabbed my hand and said “let’s take it home!” I squealed with delight as the sales lady packaged it and sent it home with us. It was one of my favorite dresses and memories shared with my dad.
I share that story because it was a special moment and childhood memory. My parents loved me well and of course made sure we were clothed. But I assure you clothing and appearance were never central in our house. Hand-me-downs were just as much a part of my wardrobe as anything else - I even wore my brother’s old clothes on occasion…yikes. However, there was a type of clothing that was daily emphasized in our home. It was a type of clothing that my parents could never make or buy, but only point me towards. It was their aim, their labor, their toil and their joy to point me towards the most important clothing - the clothing of Christ.
Romans 13:14 “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ”
Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
We live in a different age. The age of Pinterest, fashion blogs, Facebook and Instagram. Which are not inherently bad, but the pressures of keeping up with the Jones’ is completely different… Years ago the trendy standard would only hit you if you walked down a mall hallway or cracked open the JCPenny catalog that was quarterly shipped to your home. Now, we have instant access to image after image of the trendy standard that’s ever changing. With every scroll on your phone or click of your mouse you’re faced with “my kid doesn’t have that… My kiddo needs to dress more like that...I gotta have that!” The problem is, that NEVER STOPS! The trendy standards and expectation change with every new post. It’s exhausting and spins our wheels on things that, quite frankly, do not matter in the scope of eternity.
Dressing our kids in new clothing and trendy gear is fun and not a bad thing! I get a huge kick out of it myself! That is not the point of this post. The point is this… the toil, labor and joy of our parenting should not be on the external things, but rather on the hidden things of the heart. This goes further and wider beyond clothing... maybe it's the anxiety of making sure your kids are in the top college preparatory school, working hard to get them on the best AAU basketball team, pushing them to hangout with the "popular kids" at school, or feeling guilty they don't speak Italian, Mandarin, and French.
The dangerous slippery slope is that this kind of striving can breed the belief that the children the Lord gives to us are “ours.” We can easily allow them to become a reflection of us rather than a reflection of the One who made them.
This is our aim: that we would stay on our knees asking the Lord to open the eyes of our children. That He alone would save them with His mighty hand and then work day-in and day-out to teach them how to clothe themselves in His perfect saving work on the cross.
And then may we show them how to clothe themselves with:
the belt of Truth,
with the breastplate of Righteousness,
and on their feet, how to put on the shoes of readiness given by the Gospel of peace.
It starts in our own hearts and in our own desires and then by example we get the honor of pointing them to these greater things. Let our hearts not forget the reason we are gifted with children. It is for His glory alone. May we never step into that place and claim the Glory due their Creator.
I am no expert on any topic. I am writing just to share in my journey of learning to abide in my Maker.