From Black to Bling

Reflecting the image of Christ.

by Jennifer Young

As I clasped the flower necklace, slipped on my pink wedge shoes, and threw the bright green purse over my shoulder, I took one last look in the full-length mirror and smiled. I was looking at a new reflection — a reflection transformed from the inside out.

I was living proof of what the Bible says: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV).

Co-worker question

I remembered what Emily, a co-worker, asked me two years before: “Why do you always wear black?”

At that time, I was living in depression brought on by remarks some people made to me in my childhood. When kids poked fun of me at school, I believed their cruel words. I believed the derogatory comments from churchwomen about my frumpy outfits. I believed the teasing from kids about my plain hairstyle. Because I wanted people to like me, I was afraid to be myself. I couldn’t measure up to their expectations.

I felt that I had failed in life and that no one would like me if they knew the real me. So to express my deepest feelings about myself, I chose to wear black.

Inward mourning

With Emily’s question ringing in my ears, I looked down at my black slacks, black shirt, and large black sweater. Hmmmm. “I guess I do wear a lot of black,” I answered.

Sinking down into my chair, already uncomfortable with who I was, I asked myself a difficult question: Why do I wear black all the time?

While this situation seems more like a fashion dilemma than a heart issue, I came to realize it was both. Through counseling for depression, I realized I had buried my feelings and never really dealt with them. In the process, I had buried who I was. On the outside, I looked like someone attending a funeral. On the inside, I mourned my self-pity and hid who I really was.

On some dreary day, I slipped on a black sweater and never took it off.

Shedding the sweater

But eventually God showed me the truth of 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (NIV). No matter what I suffered from other people, God would give me His strength to endure.

Thankfully, God also send Emily into my life. Once she graciously understood my fashion dilemma and made some helpful suggestions, I pointed myself in the direction of a local mall and shed the sweater.

Finding a smile

While in the dressing room, I first tried on a pink shirt. My face seemed to glow. For the first time in a long time, I smiled at the sad girl in the dressing room mirror.

As I tried on the pinks, purples, blues, and browns, I discovered something: a little piece of me that had been buried for years. I found a wounded Christian who needed to lay her mourning robes at the foot of the cross and find acceptance by Christ.

Cleaning out the closet

This first shopping trip made me realize there was more in my closet than black clothes. I also had been hanging up such items as self-pity, failures, insecurities, and resentments.

At that point, I began allowing Christ to help me clean out my closet. Throughout the following weeks and months, I opened my heart to Him and let Him transform my life. I learned to forgive the church members and people who had made fun of me. When my heart began changing and accepting God’s love for me, what others thought about clothes or hairstyle wasn’t such a big deal. In moderation, I could wear the clothes I like. I can walk out into the world and not be ashamed of who I am.

Set free

Most important, I accepted God’s love and grace for my life. As Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free. . .” (NIV).

Along the road of transformation into Christ, I’ve picked up a few necklaces and a new smile. And in some way I learned I really like trendy clothes. I even learned what bling is — a  term for a glittery accessory. As transformation is an ongoing process, I am reminded each day that Christ loves me and all my quirky ways.

Embracing grace

I wholeheartedly embrace this grace because I know I have a new hope in Christ. When friends, co-workers, and church members comment on my new style, I smile on the inside, knowing my clothes do not define me. Instead, they reflect my transformation in Christ.

Thank You, Jesus, that You’re there looking for me in my darkest hours, giving me exactly what I need, when I need it.

Recommended reading

Hinds’ Feet in High Places, by Hannah Hurnard

Getting Rid of the Gorilla; Confessions on the Struggle to Forgive, by Brian Jones

Abba’s Child, by Brennan Manning

Facing Codependence, by Pia Mellody

The Search for Signficance, by Robert S. McGee

Streams in the Desert, by L. B. Cowman