I spent this weekend cleaning. My kitchen is on its way to livable (sorry, Dad) and I can almost see the floor of my bedroom! This really isn’t that important, but some fun lessons were learned!
Before I continue, I’d like for this moment to be recorded in history: as of today, every item of clothing I own is clean, folded or on a hanger, and resting wrinkle free in its proper place. I can’t remember the last time this happened, or if it has ever happened.
Okay, so for the story: I’m preparing myself to go through the temple. While I know very little about the temple, I am trying to learn as much as I can so that in February I am not smacked in the face with a change I can’t handle. Since March, I have been thinking a lot about the temple and, for me, it’s been interesting how my feelings have evolved from a place of fear and unhappiness to place of peace and excitement. Mostly peace, though, and for that I am happy. I’ve never felt this way before, but I’m comfortable standing in this place of not knowing/still learning.
So I still work on preparing. I study the temple in the scriptures. I ask friends questions. I read books like this. I read everything I can get my hands on (for the record, I’ve read all of the Temple Prep manuals for teachers and students on LDS.org). While I don’t know what I need to be focusing on or what I need to do between now and then, I feel like I have to prepare somehow.
This weekend, I focused on clothing. I know that after I go through the temple, I will wear garments. I know that my wardrobe will likely adjust accordingly. So this weekend, I spent some time with my clothes. I washed and folded everything I own (ugh, 10 loads of laundry. I’m ashamed), and put everything in piles on the floor in my living room. It was both impressive and heartbreaking to see my clothes laid out like the display tables at Old Navy. I just have so many clothes.
At one point this afternoon, surrounded by piles of clothes that needed folding, I briefly considered a world in which I gave away all of my clothes and only owned one church/work dress, one outfit for working out and playing, and one daily/casual outfit. And then I cringed at the thought of giving up all of those fun colors and patterns. And then I cringed at the realization that I have such an obnoxious relationship with my wardrobe. For more reasons than just preparing for the temple, I needed to purge my wardrobe. I just don’t need this much stuff.
Marie came over this evening to go through my disgustingly huge wardrobe to help me downsize. My short skirts, strapless sundresses, and party outfits got the boot. Even with at least 5 women’s worth of clothing laid out in front of me, I still whined with each item of clothing I put in the “donate” pile. It pained me to part with my favorite party dress, but it pained me even more that I kept having that reaction to stuff. I had to say out loud, “These are just clothes. They do not define who I am.” I’m a little disappointed that I had to actually remind myself of that instead of already knowing.
Before today, I never thought this applied to me (Matthew 19):
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
LadyMo has an idol, and her idol has cute clothes and great shoes and both in large quantities. I’m one of those people.
After Marie left, I realized that purging my wardrobe to prepare for the temple had nothing to do with changing my clothes. Purging my wardrobe to prepare for the temple had everything to do with changing my attitude and redirecting my priorities away from the material and towards the eternal. When I set out on my wardrobe adventure, I was not anticipating any spiritual awakening or lessons of consequence. I admit, my intentions were focused more on the “looking like” and “acting like” a Mormon and not on actually living my faith. Little did I know that when I set out to prepare to enter the temple, I would be preparing to enter the temple.
In my scriptures, I highlighted Proverbs 31:25-26 and wrote “Emilee and Alix” in the margins. Emilee and Alix are Natalie’s daughters and are mighty wonderful examples of young women who live their faith. I show them the same verse every Sunday during sacrament meeting because when I think of strength and honor, wisdom and kindness, I think of them.
As I was packing up my “donation” pile and putting the “keepers” in my dresser and closet, the verse popped in my head:
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
I realized that Heavenly Father used this laundry project to teach me something. My attitude and practice has to change. I am easily distracted by the golden cow of materialism and I am wasting too much time and money feeding it and keeping it nice and fat.
I still have a lot to learn before I go through the temple, but I did learn something very important about wardrobe modesty this evening: modesty is less about wearing clothing that properly covers garments and more about making sure that clothes I wear will cover my body in strength and honor.
Heavenly Father – 1. LadyMo – 0.
Readers, I want to hear from you. What are your golden cows and how much room are they taking up in your living room?
ps – Marie, thank you for sitting through such a mundane task of sorting through my clothes!