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You Are What you Wear

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that I’m not someone who takes a long time worrying about my appearance or what others think about how I look. I tend to wear clothes that are comfy and are appealing to me in some way; perhaps with a pattern I like, or that serve to remind me of a happy memory. I have very short hair because it requires very little maintenance (and because I’m going bald anyway). I wear waistcoats for two reasons. The first is that they are by far the most comfortable of any similar attire and I look ridiculous in a suit. The second is that they lend to the wearer a sort of superpower. For some reason waistcoats are inherently smart yet flexible enough not to look out of place with any other combination of clothing. As a result, it’s possible to wear almost anything with a waistcoat and still look sufficiently smart for most occasions – even jeans and trainers.

Other than a vague concern of socially acceptable degrees of smartness that some events may require, I have never really concerned myself with how people see me, nor what my appearance says about me. This is maybe strange as I think I’ve always been someone who has chosen to look slightly “odd” compared to normal people, but then perhaps this very lack of concern is what granted me the freedom to inhabit such a style (or lack thereof). Recently however, I have come to realise that even small seemingly insignificant choices (or indeed thoughtlessness) about my appearance can affect how well I can relate to those around me. It could be the relatable everydayness of the trainers worn by the man teaching from the bible on a Sunday morning. Trainers which speak of the everyday relevance of a book unusually for its time written in the language spoken by the common people rather than the more intellectual language reserved for upper classes. Or it could be the distracting odd socks which peep out through those trainers and make any such teaching almost impossible to concentrate on.

We are all different and such things will speak differently to each of us, what draws one of us near will most likely repel another. Don’t worry, I am not going to start over analysing how I dress, but what I do become aware of, I will take into consideration. This though is about more than mere clothing. As it seems is often the case with my thoughts, most of what I have written is not really the thing that I am concerned with. Rather, the thing that seems important is this; when people see me what do they see? They say that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but really, other than by reviews or recommendations, how are you supposed to decide if a book is worth reading before you decide to read it?

Yes, what I wear does speak to people about me, but much more than that, my appearance is how I act and behave. If my clothes can affect how people see me, how much more so does what I say, what I do and how I do it? I claim to be a follower of Christ, what then will those who don’t know Him think Him to be when they see me? Do I seem compassionate and patient, or too busy to care? Full of joy or seeing the worst in every situation? Trying to make peace or loving something to gossip about? I might regret not putting my coat on if it starts to rain once I’ve left my house, but how much more important is it for me to clothe myself in Christ before I step foot outside of my door?

Originally written for the November 2021 ABC Newsletter

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