Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Recently I saw a video online of a man who decided he probably had too many pairs of pants, but had no idea exactly how many he had--and so one day he decided to count them all.

There were seventy-five. The man had 75 pairs of pants!

It got me thinking. Pants aren't as much my thing, so I decided to go through my closet and count my shirts instead. So here's my big number:

Forty-six! Long sleeve, short sleeve, fancy, casual. Shirts, shirts, shirts.

How on earth did I end up with 46 shirts?

That means that I could wear a different shirt every day for a month and a half with no repeats. That is absolutely ridiculous!

The man on the video said something that has stayed with me ever since. He basically said, "How did I have 70 pairs of pants and feel the need to buy a 71st? Or a 72nd? And what compelled me to buy a 73rd pair of pants with 72 other pairs hanging in the closet at home? And then how did I think I needed a 74th, and a 75th?"

And frankly, I feel the same way about my 46 shirts. Especially in light of the trip my husband just took to the Dominican Republic where many children run around in the same shirt--the one and only shirt they own--every single day. And just when you'd think their closets must be pretty empty, you realize that they'd say "Closet? What's a closet?" -- because the idea of having a separate room for their clothes would be unthinkable to them. They often cram families of six into a few hundred square feet while we have designated rooms for our clothes and cars.

When did I decide that I needed 40+ shirts? I never set out to own that many, but how do I even have more than I can count on two hands? And really, to be honest, I have always been fairly content with simple things and a simple life. So I think I look at what I have and don't bat an eyelash because comparitively speaking, we keep it pretty simple around here. As a rule, we really don't pursue status and stuff.

But there's something that hasn't been sitting well with me about owning 46 shirts.

As I went through this, I was reminded of a statement I read in Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline -- "Most of us could get rid of half of what we have and not really feel it." And so I started really thinking about it. Half of 46 is 23. If I gave away half my shirts, I would still have 23 shirts left. I didn't really want to face it but I knew there is no reason I can't be more than content with 23 shirts. I realized that was exactly what needed to happen. I went into my closet and took 23 shirts off their hangers and set them aside to donate. I thought it would be really difficult, but it was done within 5 minutes. And what I thought would be so tough to do was actually pretty freeing!

Let me throw out a challenge. I'm not saying you should necessarily pare down your own wardrobe, but I do encourage you to do one thing: Go into your closet. Start counting. Shoes, pants, shirts, whatever. Just start counting.

But let me warn you--It'll probably be eye-opening. Maybe even uncomfortable.

Jesus, You are our example. You went to the cross with only the clothes for which the soldiers cast lots. Your goal was not the acquisition of stuff, but to simply do the will of the Father. Please show us Your ways and show how we can follow You. Give us hearts that are content with less. Open our hearts to share what we have more than we're doing now.


  1. Excellent - that is my goal this summer - pairing down everything - managed to give away three large bags of clothing already - working on the "random stuff in boxes" now. Great challenge :) ~ Andrea

  2. Eye opening indeed! This makes me feel the same way as when Simon still says to me, "Mommy, you said that you were not going to buy any thing that you didn't NEED!" Stemming from my lenting season ...he is still reminding me, just the other day!- Kell