OPINION

Green: The challenges that come with wardrobe issues

RENAE GREEN

I now have two closets, a winter one and a summer one. One is little more than a large cubby hole, but it’s convenient for storing things you don’t need every day. My original plan was to change out my wardrobes with the seasons, but that’s a lot of work...

Renae Green column

Right now, coming out of summer, most of my wardrobe choices have been pulled from the more convenient hot-weather closet. But with the days getting cooler, I’ve recently found myself in the not-so-easy-to-get-to winter closet, digging through, finding in-between clothes to suit the in-between weather.

I’ve felt like a kid on Christmas morning, discovering “new” clothes I forgot I had. This week, I’ll be a runway model, donning last fall’s blazers and slacks, belts and shoes. I wonder if there’s a need for short, slightly-pudgy, wrinkled models. Maybe I’ll check with the International Dog Show, Shar-pei division.

It’s interesting how a new or different outfit can change the way we see ourselves. One day I’m a cowgirl, the next, a businesswoman. Add my spectacles, and I’m a highly intellectual college professor. I can pull my hair into a ponytail and slap a ball cap on my head, and I’m a tomboy sports fanatic.

Despite the clothes I wear, none of those personas are really who I am. The truth is, I’ve changed clothes and jobs and roles so many times over the years, I’ve lost sight of my true identity. I recently stumbled upon a quote by Pulitzer finalist and O. Henry Award winner Frederick Buechner:

“The original, shimmering self gets buried so deep that most of us end up hardly living out of it at all. Instead we live out all the other selves, which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather.”

I read his quote through several times, considering its meaning. I believe the clothes we wear in life often don’t fit well. They don’t suit us. Instead, the world keeps piling more coats and scarves and hats on our souls, like unwanted armor or bubble wrap, until we can hardly move, hardly breathe, and we look more like the Michelin Man than our true selves.

But we can hardly walk around naked, can we? Just as clothing allows modesty and protection from the elements, emotional armor lets us hide our most personal selves and protects us from others’ judgement and criticism. What would happen if we took off the layers? If we exposed ourselves, let our genuine spirits shine through?

We might get hurt. That’s what might happen.

But maybe, just maybe, we’d be set free. Maybe we’d inspire others to set aside the heavy, clunky chainmail that keeps us from really connecting, really seeing each other. Maybe we’d encourage a new trend of appreciation for what others truly are, instead of judgment of what society tells us we should be.

I believe one day, when I get to heaven, all those layers will be sloughed off once and for all. For the rest of eternity, I’ll experience the freedom of being exactly who God created me to be. Until then, I'll do my best to be that person here on earth, removing the coats and sheets and chainmail that hide God’s masterpiece, giving glory not to myself, but to the One who made each of us unique, beautiful, and with great purpose.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly perfect children, and far-too-many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com