Have you ever noticed that even if you are having a crummy day, if you put on some clothing that makes you look good, you suddenly feel better? It’s always amazed me how my clothes can have such a big impact on how I feel inside. I can remember in high school, when my boyfriend and I broke up, my mother told me to put on my favorite outfit the very next day. I didn’t even want to get out of my pj’s much less, get dressed and go to school, but suddenly when I did, I felt better. And when I went on a job interview, I was told to dress for success. I put on my favorite outfit yet again, and I felt confident. I ended up getting offered the job as a hostess in a restaurant that day, not the job I had applied for, but what ended up being a great fit. Even now, I pay a lot of attention to what I wear, because I know that it can affect how I feel and ultimately what kind of an impact I can make. It’s important to wear professional clothing, so as to respect the people I encounter, but for me also to be able to have an expression of my personality in my choices, so that I feel like myself.
Regardless of whether or not we realize it, our outward appearances, the clothing that we wear, can have such a tremendous impact on our inward self. Now, take that image, and apply it to today’s scripture passage – “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Sometimes we just don’t feel like being kind – we have had a rough day, maybe even a rough week, and people have been just downright rude to us. But, like Pastor Adam spoke about on Sunday, if we can find it within ourselves to try and bring joy to others, we suddenly are filled with joy ourselves. And it’s hard to be patient standing in the checkout line when we’re late to work, but we’re really only making it worse on ourselves and those around us when we let that emotion spew out. If instead, we make a conscious effort to be patient, and put things into perspective, we will probably drive safer when we get in the car and arrive to work with a much more positive attitude than had we felt rushed and impatient. Finally, loving someone when you haven’t felt loved back is quite a difficult thing. But I can’t help but remember my little puppy dog, Ellie, when it comes to this – she truly has unconditional love. When I walk in the door, she wags her tail, jumps up and down and is absolutely thrilled to see me – even if yesterday I was frustrated with her for doing something she shouldn’t she still loves me, and it makes me love her all the more.
While our outward appearances may impact how we feel, our outward expressions of emotions and actions influence our inner being even more. That’s what the Scripture is talking about. Helping us to do what we can to be compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient and loving people. Not because it is always easy, but because when we do, we are blessed as well as offering a blessing to others. During Christmas, many of us rush to the stores to find that perfect sweater or new pair of pajama pants, wanting to bring joy to the lives of those we love. But, what if instead of just giving them this type of clothing, we also make a conscious effort to put on clothing of our own – to have compassion for those who are not as fortunate as we walk past the Salvation Army volunteer ringing the bell, to be patient in line as we purchase these items, and to write a note accompanying the gift telling them just how much we love them. It is my prayer that this Christmas, you’ll begin to pay just as much attention to emotions you express as the clothing you wear.