“Wear the world as a loose garment, which touches us in a few places and there lightly” – St. Francis of Assisi
Personally, I have a real hate for jeans. If you ever see me wearing jeans, I’m either going out with my friends, dressing for casual Friday at my corporate job, or trying to make the hooded sweatshirt and messy bun look at least look somewhat presentable to go out in public. I am more of a sweatpants or leggings type of girl, and jeans are just not my thing. I don’t like the skin tight and constricting feeling that jeans give me, and cause me to not be able to bend and flex in the way that my body should be allowed to move.
Do you ever feel like we wear the world like a tight garment, giving off the same feeling that jeans do to our legs, but instead, to our souls and circumstances?
Personally, I wear the world like a tight garment when I become too invested in my own ego, my own needs, my own perceptions of myself, and my perceived roles in society. I wear the world like a tight garment when my own material desires, my own need to be in control, and my overarching desire to always be right take over my purpose and focus. When I wear tight jeans, I spend my entire day service preoccupied with the discomfort caused by the tight, rough feelings through my waist and down my legs; almost so preoccupied that I can’t really pay attention to anything else.
So, what does the phrase “Wear the world as a loose garment suggest?” Loose garments are comfortable, permit lots of movement and flexibility, and are associated with informality and individuality rather than conformity. We wear loose garments to do fun, healthy things like yoga and massages, relaxing on the couch to watch a movie or show, or settling into a comfy chair to read a good book. Loose garments.
According to the Bible, Jesus counseled us to be in the world and not of the world. In the book of Romans, we are told “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). Again, in the book of John, Jesus says himself “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” comparing His followers attitudes and actions to the very way He was and is (John 17:16). As believers, we should be set apart from the world. This is the meaning of being holy and living a holy, righteous life—to be set apart. We are to live in such a way that those outside the faith see our good deeds and our manner and know that there is something “different” about us.
What this means to me now has changed a little bit since I last visited this way of approaching my life. What this means to me is that I no longer am attached to things as I used to be. I used to be attached to what people thought of me, attached to resentments that lingered for decades, attached to how I could control thing and people, attached to how I put others on pedestals, attached to a million other things little and big that weighed me down. I wasn’t free. I was choking on the expectations I put on others and myself. I couldn’t breathe.
If it helps, imagine the feeling of wearing a heavy coat. Your coat is your life circumstances and your worldly being. This coat is buttoned up to your neck, constricting on your breathing and uncomfortable through your chest. Now, imagine undoing the buttons and feeling the coat loosen a bit. The small bit of relief is a representation of letting go of your tight hold on who you are, and allowing yourself to be who God wants you to be. Finally, imagine taking the coat off and throwing it away, tossing it over a cliff and down deep into the ocean. Feeling the relief of letting go of life’s constraints is what it’s like to wear life loosely. Things feel easier, life feels more relaxed, and the path ahead seems smooth. Wearing life loosely means being flexible and allowing God to open the way to exciting new experiences. Wearing life like a loose garment also means feeling the fear of following God and stepping out of your comfort zone to believe that His plan is better than anything you could put together on your own, but doing it anyway.
What I had to learn is that I need to detach, lovingly. But it’s really quite simple for me – I don’t have expectations or results of things that are out of my control. I do the work with love. But the outcome isn’t mine. It’s God’s.