Last Spring I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a women’s conference hosted by my church. Every year, women from all over the world gather to be inspired, encouraged, challenged, and uplifted over the course of two-and-a-half days filled with music, world-renowned communicators, prayer, and a bit of pampering! To say it was a surreal experience would be an extreme understatement. I definitely left feeling inspired, encouraged, and uplifted, but also found myself challenged in a surprising area: my wardrobe.
The conference took place in London – one of the fashion capitals of the world - and had countless fashionable, stunning, put-together Londoners in attendance, along with countless stunning, fashionable, put-together women from around the globe. I don’t know if I have ever been surrounded by so many beautiful people. Prior to the weekend, I had packed my suitcase with carefully selected garments, along with options just in case (I’m a notorious over-packer). After the first evening I immediately regretted all of my wardrobe choices. There was no way I could compete with the Glamazon runway models I found myself surrounded by!
Day two arrived along with renewed anxieties about my appearance. I wasn’t thin enough/tall enough/ petite enough/ fashionable enough/ flawless enough. My clothes were frumpy and ill fitting and everyone was judging me, obviously. I reluctantly pulled on my clothing, distractedly adjusting them, feeling like a stranger in my own body, completely discontent with how I was presenting myself to the world.
The morning session began and as the music started and I began to take focus off myself, it hit me. An overwhelming revelation. A moment that shifted my perspective. I felt the Holy Spirit say to me “When you focus so much on your outer appearance, you distract yourself from the things I have for you. Don’t sell yourself short by thinking so small – look beyond appearances and you will open yourself up to some amazing experiences that you otherwise would have missed. Don’t worry so much. Trust me.”
I felt like I had been hit in the face. Such a small shift in perspective made me realize how selfish my thinking can be. I spend so much time worrying about myself, how I feel, how I fit in, that I can forget to look beyond myself and see the amazing things God has put before me. I decided in that moment I would not sell myself short by spending so much time worrying about something as trivial as my outfit. I made a commitment to look outward and take my eyes off my insecurities.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think paying attention to fashion is a bad thing, nor do I think wanting to express myself uniquely through my clothing should be frowned upon. Rather, when the joy I find in these things is overshadowed by comparing myself to others, or by becoming too distracted by my insecurities, I need to take time to reevaluate my focus.
So, from one fashion-loving girl to another: let’s not get so caught up on the shoes we’re wearing, what clothes are hanging in our closet, or how our appearance compares to someone else’s that we miss the beautiful wildflowers God puts on display, right in front of us.