Lessons learned from wearing the same outfit twice in a row

women closet“Sometimes, even what I wear—or don’t have to wear—can make me discontent.” We were talking at our table Friday night during The Crossing Women’s Conference, “Cultivating Contentment.” Jen Wilkin had just spoken about contentment with possessions.

“Yeah, it’s almost like you don’t have permission to wear the same outfit twice,” another woman chimed in, to general laughter from the other six of us at the (slight) exaggeration.

I jokingly added, “Hey, I’ll work at contentment tomorrow by wearing this same outfit.” We all laughed again. They all thought I was joking. I wasn’t.

The next morning I put on the same jeans, same striped navy shirt with lace sleeves, and shoes.  The simplicity of just grabbing the same outfit, not having to plan what to wear or to contemplate how I wished I had something additional in my wardrobe was refreshing – and I left the house feeling pretty content.

As I walked up to my table, the women all started laughing as they realized I had followed through. “Wow! My respect for you just shot way up,” one said approvingly. My contentment meter shot up a notch. Not only was getting dressed easy, but someone respected this decision. I was cruising along in Contentment City . . . until I bumped into my internal thoughts.

I started worrying whether anyone outside my table would realize I was wearing the same clothes. And if they did, of course they wouldn’t know the motive behind it, and then they would think I was just weird. Weird with no fashion sense. In my attempt to push towards contentment, I became far from content.

During one of the breaks, I chatted with a good friend at another table. Was she noticing that I had the same clothes on as last night? Feeling a little insecure, I quickly blurted out, “I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m wearing the same clothes from yesterday. It’s because we were joking last night at our table about contentment, and it was kind of a dare.”

My friend laughed and admitted she had noticed, and then we joked about all the other reasons I could still be in the same clothes.

When Paul talks about being content in Philippians 4, he talks about the “secret of contentment.” At this moment, I wasn’t remembering the secret. I was far from content, because I was worrying way too much what others thought of me. “Would people understand what I was doing? What would they think of me?” My audience was other people and not God. I was thinking more of myself and what others thought, and less of God and what He thought.

The key to contentment is having the right perspective of God. The quickest way to lose this perspective is to take our eyes off of God and to transfer it to other people. Paul calls it a secret because it’s so counter-cultural. It was counter-cultural in the first century, and it’s still cross-cultural in the 21st century.

My prayer is that we all can transfer the need for acceptance that is so core to our personhood away from all the horizontal relationships that vie for it daily and transfer it to the one true relationship that will last forever.


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