I can always tell when Hannah has been in her room unattended, because it looks like a tornado ripped through her clothing drawer. Clean and dirty clothes mingle unashamedly on every imaginable surface, including, on one memorable occasion, the fan blades. It's impossible to tell what belongs with what, what needs to go back in the drawer, and what was worn just long enough for her to wipe her nose on it. Indeed, it seems as though most of her clothes spend more time on the floor or in the hamper then they do on her body. Our laundry basket reflects this, because when I finally get around to washing clothes (which seems to happen way too often and not nearly often enough), I can divide the pile into thirds: two-thirds Hannah, and one-third for the other two girls.
How many clothes does one child need? Three children? My girls each have a drawer full of clothes and they share a closet that is bursting at the seams, but they wear the same favorites every single week (except for Hannah, who wears everything for 30-seconds at a time). For all my lofty talk of not acquiring more stuff, we always seem to have way too many clothes. Someone offers me a bag of hand-me-downs, and I gasp, "Yes, we need those! If Lucy doesn't wear them, I'll save them for Hannah, or for Julia..."After all, my family motto has long been, "I might need that someday." ;-)
Do I really want to be storing clothes for five years, just on the off chance that one of my children could maybe, someday wear them? Elastic wears out, and the worn-out clothing that I save for play time and camping trips will still be ripped and stained the next time I pull it out of the box. The adorable dresses that I so lovingly hoard could be clothing someone else's child right now.
Fear: that's what this really comes down to. I have this fear that as soon as I get rid of an article of clothing, one of my children is going to need it. There's this voice in my head that whispers, "Just you watch - you're going to give away the shorts that Julia never wears, and then there will come a day when she'll rip holes in every pair of shorts she owns, and you're going to wish you'd kept those extra clothes, missy..." Well, I say boo to that little voice, that boogeyman that keeps me clinging to that adorable little sweater from Gymboree, because it was so sweet of so-and-so to give it to us, and maybe the last of my girls will decide that she likes this sweater, even though the other two didn't like it at all. Boo, I say, Boo, to quote Foghorn Leghorn.
Lucy and I were just discussing this the other day. She had broken her toy airplane, and she wanted to know why it had broken. We talked about being careful with her things, but we also talked about how plastic toys usually break pretty quickly. She wanted to know if her wooden toys would last forever, so we talked about how nothing here on earth lasts forever, and how we need to be sure that our lives are filled with the most important things. God has a sense of humor, because if I'd kept reading that passage, I would have found this:
"Why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and see how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, and yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown in the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?" Matthew 6: 28-30
There it is: why do you have so little faith? Why do I try and put my confidence in cute little dresses from Osh-Kosh and Children's Place, rather than clothing myself in faith? It's time for me to open my hands and trust that God will give us enough, rather than trying to provide for myself. It's time for me to remember all the times when He has been faithful to our family and to the people I love, rather than being scared of what tomorrow might bring. It is time.