Good morning friends :). Last week we celebrated Ash Wednesday, and although this special feast day is over (is it a feast day?), I had this exciting reflection on my heart that I feel God wanted me to share.
Each year, I celebrate Ash Wednesday with going to mass and receiving my ashes, which (for those of you who do not know) is the shape of a cross that the priest puts on our forehead with ash. I have always wondered what the ashes symbolize and recently learned that it represents dying to ourselves. Just like from dust we came when God created us, to dust we will return.
It is a beautiful reminder to forget ourselves and live for the One who created us. It is a sobering time of repentance and a joyful season of fasting.
If you’re looking at that last sentence twice, yes, I did just say joyful :).
A Joyful Fast
I was reading the Bible the other day, the Book of Isaiah, and I was surprised at what it said about what fasting that is pleasing to God looks like.
Here’s what I read (it’s a little long but stay with me):
5 Is this the manner of fasting I would choose, a day to afflict oneself?
To bow one’s head like a reed, and lie upon sackcloth and ashes?
Is this what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?
Authentic Fasting That Leads to Blessing
6 Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose:
releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed, breaking off every yoke?
7 Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry,
bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
-Isaiah 58: 5-8
New American Bible, Revised Edition
According to the passage, God is much more pleased by fasting that is a gift to others than if it’s simply an act of afflicting ourselves.
Maybe it’s just me, but that is really incredible news.
God would rather have that we make sacrifices by giving ourselves to others (like spending time with our grandparents, helping a friend with an errand, or giving up gossip), as opposed to just afflicting ourselves by giving up things that are pleasurable (such as giving up chocolate or Netflix).
This is not saying that giving up something you love is a bad fast.
It just means that God is not looking simply for pain when in comes to fasting. He wants us to offer our fast as a sacrifice for the good of souls.
This kind of fasting (doing good unto to others) is what authentic fasting looks like— it’s what leads to blessing!
Okay, so what does fasting have to do with fashion?
I'm glad you asked :).
Putting the Ash in Fashion
I went on a spiritual retreat once that completely transformed the way that I see fashion and modesty.
The girl who was giving the talk explained that fashion is a gift. Fashion and modesty (despite contrary opinion) do go hand-in-hand, and together, they become a gift that we give others.
Think about it, ladies.
Think of the last time you felt even just a tad bit immodest. Maybe you wore a skirt that may have been just a little too short or a blouse that was a little too low-cut?
What did you do when you were spending time with someone in that outfit?
Could you fully focus on the person before you? Or did you constantly need to be aware of yourself, how you sat, how you walked, adjusting your skirt so it would move a bit lower, adjusting your shirt so it didn’t swoop too low.
Most likely, when dressing this way, all it did was make YOU more focused on YOU.
At least, I know that’s true for me.
Now, think about a time when you wore clothes that were so comfortable (and cute) that you forgot you were wearing them?
Couldn't you be more present to those around you?
Didn't people's faces light up when they saw you?
And on the flip side, when you hung out with someone who was stylish, modest, and relaxed all at once, didn't it also make you feel more at ease and present? And even inspired at times?
It's amazing how wearing certain colors like deep blues can make people feel calm or how jewel tones like ruby red can make people feel inspired and energized. I had a counselor at school once who always painted her nails this deep teal color. I can't explain why but seeing that color every time I saw her made me feel more at ease.
Fashion is a gift...
I used to think dressing modestly was about dressing so boring you were almost invisible to people. I went through a phase of baggy sweaters and plain clothing because of that (thank goodness that’s over).
But modesty in dress is less about covering it all up— and more about dressing in a way in which you can feel natural in your own skin.
It’s about putting on clothes that allow you to truly forget about yourself and focus to others.
Modest is truly the hottest— because it allows you to be yourself and shine all the love you have to give on others.
Last year, I went for a week in quarantine dressing up when all I wanted was to stay in my sweats. Putting an effort to look nice can be hard when we just want to stay in our PJ bottoms while working from home.
But what if we committed to fashion for the season of lent? To bringing out our freshest and most presentable self for others... even when others aren't always around.
To decorate ourselves even just a little bit... put on some lipstick or comfy headband and go out in the world spreading color, joy, and love.
That's just my little thought.
Who said giving up being lazy in fashion and instead looking nice each day for others couldn't be our thing we give up to God for lent?
I don't know about you but I am going to fast from laziness and give my best self to others this lent.
Even if I'm just visiting my little old grandma. Gonna put on that mascara and nice shirt. Just to brighten her day.
It will be hard. I will fail. But I want to get right back up and keep trying.
Wishing you all a joyful and fruitful lent! Don't give up!!
Lots of love,