Lessons from a Clothes Shopping Fast

Distinguishing between needs and wants—and why it's important to our souls.

As far as spiritual practices go, I reasoned, it shouldn't be that hard. Because technically, it's doing nothing. After thinking about it for a day, I decided I could probably do nothing. So I replied to Sarah's e-mail.

"I'm kind of nervous to say this. Okay, really nervous. I want to do this year with you. Can we be Clothing Buddies?"

then I quickly tapped send before I could change my mind.


What Sarah and I quickly discovered was that though our wills were committed to the clothing fast, it would take a few weeks for our hearts and minds to catch up. Thinking back, I consider those difficult days of withdrawal as consumer detox. Spiritually speaking, they were sin detox! For instance, Sarah reported that while grocery shopping she'd been seized with the odd overwhelming urge to buy colored tights. Since I'd recently coveted grocery store clothing myself, I completely understood. Sarah and I were able to support each other by e-mail. When she had a wedding to attend, she ran her clothing options past me for my thumbs-up approval. When I was tempted to buy a totally cool t-shirt, I e-mailed Sarah to report how stinky it was I didn't get to.

Putting sin to death was more unwieldy than I'd expected. In fact my brain started to concoct unlikely scenarios in which I'd simply have to buy new clothes. After all, what if someone died? It would be disrespectful, I reasoned, to wear just any old thing from my closet to a funeral (or substitute wedding, baptism, Ground Hog's Day celebration).

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Margot Starbuck

Margot Starbuck, award-winning writer and speaker, is a graduate of Westmont College and Princeton Theological Seminary. A TCW regular contributor and columnist, Margot speaks regularly on discipleship, justice, and living love in the world God loves. Connect with Margot on Facebook, Twitter, or at MargotStarbuck.com.

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