Recently, I started reading, Happy Are You Poor, by Fr. Thomas Dubay and his words have had quite an impact on my heart. In this book, Dubay makes the argument that living spiritually poor is not enough. In the Gospel, in more than one account, Jesus is adamant about teaching that we must live in a state of poverty to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Earth is not our Fatherland. Why is it then that we storing up treasures on earth and searching for happiness within them?
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21
Jesus has been slowly revealing in my heart where I am overly attached to things on this earth. And, it’s been really hard to admit that I’ve found myself incredibly attached to material goods, especially clothing. Honestly ladies, It has been so discouragingly hard to let go of this attachment. I have made so so many excuses to buy new clothes. Things like, “Well it’s fall now so I need a new wardrobe, or I have had this shirt for years, time to get rid of it and buy a new one, or it’s on sale!” Why is it that I always feel this need to have more – to always be on trend and have the perfect closet?
When I started reflecting on these questions I quickly realized that I have not been loving God with my whole heart, my whole mind and my whole soul. I have been clinging to my clothes to fuel compliments from others, to gain approval, and to just feel noticed. I’ve been so focused on searching for this affirmation in others that I have not been giving Jesus the opportunity to tell me that I am seen and loved in His eyes.
I have been hung up on these words of Jesus. The question of where my heart lies has been echoing in my heart for days. When I pick out an outfit, when I have the urge to go shopping because I feel like my clothes aren’t stylish enough, when jealousy is in my heart because I like someone’s outfit that I don’t have – His words pop into my head. And isn’t that last question the biggest motivation for all this shopping? Jealousy.
Jealousy is a rival that steals joy. Leaves all thoughts in the darkness, drowning our hearts from the truth. Jealousy is a quiet whisper of despair. I realized recently how much of my identity I put in my ability to be fashionable. I’ve always been the “fashionable” person in my friend group. I know that sounds silly but it’s true and when someone else comes in who is more fashionable than me it definitely affects my confidence. I see a “picture perfect Pinterest” woman and I feel less than. Especially with my recent focus on “slow or ethical fashion” it’s hard to recognize that I will never be on trend and yet I see these women and immediately want to run to Zara or even Target to get something similar to it.
We are called to live a modest life in all areas. Yes, this surely means our clothing we physically wear, but also to be modest in the amount of clothing and material goods we have. If we are not radically challenged by the Gospel then we need to ask Jesus if we are falling into mediocrity.
“Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)
Thomas Dubay leaves his readers with an examination of consciousness that I want to also leave here to challenge us:
- Does the Gospel affect me, change me? How different am I today from what I was one year ago?
- Have I sincerely tried to understand without rationalization what this evangelical poverty means?
- Am I willing to embrace the self-denial and suffering gospel poverty necessarily entails?
- How can I prove to myself that I am detached?
- Does my care for exterior adornment betray where my heart actually is?
- Is my way of life so different from that of the unbeliever that my compatriots know well that my homeland is not here below?
- How willing am I to sacrifice an attachment for Eternal life?
- Am I sensitive to the fact that my deepest hunger is not for things but for Everything? In what way do I live this out?