I hate going to the mall. Every time I walk through a mall I feel like I’m having an unspoken dialogue with the mannequins in the store windows.
Mannequin – Hey… You’re jeans are too baggy.
Me – What?
Mannequin – You’re jeans are way too loose and your shirt has the wrong buttons.
Me – What’s wrong with my buttons?
Mannequin – Nothing… if it was 1996. You need pearl buttons, tighter jeans and… well, I’m not even going to mention the hair thing.
Me – My hair? You don’t even have a head. Where do you get off knockin’ my hair?
You get the picture. You’ve probably experienced the same thing (though, perhaps with a healthier and less active imagination). The truth is, this impulse isn’t about clothes at all. It’s about identity. It’s about the distance between who I am now and who I wish I was and the illusion of a short cut. Marketing professionals make major money capitalizing on this very impulse. We walk from store front to store front being constantly bombarded with the same messages…
What you have isn’t good enough.
Who you are isn’t good enough.
If you by this shirt, bag, pair of shoes, fill in the blank – you will be better.
We are so prone to envy that we will covet the lifestyle of a picture in a catalog or a plastic figure in a window. We want to have a carefree lifestyle and a great body, so we buy pre-ripped jeans and a shirt with an obscure logo of a surf shop in California. Even though we don’t surf and have never been to California. We want to be more respected and successful at the office so we buy an absurdly overpriced watch, even though the computer we work on and the phone in our pocket both tell time quite well. And every time, to our surprise, we put on the shirt and find that it’s just a shirt and you are still you…. I guess it’s back to the mall.
No matter what the mannequins tell you, there is no short cut to change and you can’t purchase happiness off of the clearance rack. But, when we shut out the voice of our Creator God, who desires to speak love, value and affirmation into our lives and give us true sense of purpose and identity, than we open the floodgates to a million other voices who will make conditional, empty promises of the same. And we are easily seduced by them.
In summary – Mannequins lie.
11 thoughts on “Conversations With A Mannequin”
This was great Reese! Thanks!
Good blog man…
IDK, I think this whole approaching mid 30’s thing (getting further from my 20’s and closer to my 40’s) is making me more aware of those things that separate me from the mannequins.
The crazy thing is that I don’t go to malls… but funny enough, I find myself comparing me against the cool trendy newcomer musicians at churches. When I was in Michigan last month, I played at a church in Lansing and had a less than spiritual moment in the middle of worship. I must shamefully admit that as I played I looked at the young (if even in his 20’s) worship leader with his skinny jeans, cool T, Converse and hair, then I looked at other older musicians, looked at myself and realized that I lean towards the older crowd look. Yikes!.
But wait… my “yikes” is not so much because I feel uncool (although I certainly do), but because, as you said, I was shutting down a moment of connection with God because I was so concerned with how I appeared to others.
Tried to put it away, but only weeks later I went to Passion City Church in Atlanta, and saw that everyone (and that’s not a figure of speech… I mean EVERYONE on stage) was wearing skinny jeans, cool haircuts and Converse sneakers. Even Giglio had his tight T to go with his huge white watch (matching Chris Tomlin’s). I found it funny, but I went and bought myself some Converse. On my defense, I had need shoes for a long time and they were on sale, so don’t judge me). 😛
Anyways… I think part of it is feeling disconnected with the newer generations in style, and that does not help us when we are already so disconnected in other ways. But our money is not being spent on those things… we’ve got different priorities. Still, that God would help us control this ego.
(BTW, I think you’ve got a cool style going)
Thanks for sharing Cesar. Just a couple weeks ago at catalyst conference I found myself surrounded by skinny jeans, deep v- neck shirts and more hair gel than should reasonably be contained in one place and time. It not only made me feel old but, honestly, i found myself feeling superior. Which is a different side of the same insecurity that compelled thousands to wear the same outfit that day. It is insane how much of our value we try to derive from comparison to others, whether it’s trying to fit in with them or just standing on the outside and judging them.
Hey Reese, I think you and Cesar should consider doing some writing together. Great thoughts……..
I love your insight Reece. I’m almost 50 and it makes me say “WHA???” in my head when I even say that! I’m not that old cuz God has a youngster inside here! Putting on clothes (masks, if you will) has been going on forever. It is our constant vain struggle with who we really are in Christ. That “lovely balance” between looking goooood and looking good enough that I’m not a distraction. (Well in my mind I know what I mean! lol) …and Cesar, if Billy Graham who is like 200 by now can still connect with a 16 yr old…. then I’m pretty sure we can still connect with the younger generation. After all… dont we connect? LOL and I’m considered “OLD” by my kids! Gotta love you two! Love reading about how God is challenging you. Keep it up!!
Too true Janice. The last thing you need to do to try and connect with the younger generation is dress like them. They just need to know that you are present and that you care. And it always helps to be authentic.
BTW… when I said I felt disconnected with newer generations, I did not mean that I can’t connect with them on a personal level unless I dress like them. I meant that I feel that I am being left behind and disconnected with current trends and styles… that I can’t keep up.
I am thankful that it is the Holy Spirit who draws people to God and not me, or my ability to be “outwardly” relevant. The Word, God and the need for Him is always relevant to all generations, in spite of us. Although there is something to be said about contextualizing the Gospel to the culture we present it, without watering it down and always abiding by the absolute truth of His Word. But that’s a conversation for another blog.
Amen bro. I Gave you the benefit of the doubt on that one. And as you said, contextualization is eessential.
Very nicely put Reece, thanks!
Been a while, man!
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking along these lines lately with a big move and new worship position coming up, and in light of what the Lord has been working into and out of me over the past few years. Good thoughts here from you and other commentors. Thanks for initiating a great conversation.
I’m not sure where I’m going to land here. Trendiness does not equal godliness. Dallas Willard said something like “The danger is not in doctrine being irrelevant. The danger is an undoctrinal attempt at relevance.” I think that people with public roles in the church must press forward into ways of thinking, expressing, teaching that awaken people’s sleepy souls with the far-reaching implications of the Gospel. But do you have to be hip & trendy to do that?
I think maybe the answer lies in what we are driven toward; driven toward being hip to shore up my shaky ego or to overdo some sense of self-expression?
How about this: how we dress affects how we feel about our bodies and, to some extent, our psyches as well. Maybe how we dress in some way influences the way we think about communicating timeless truths?
Just some random, hardly-edited thoughts . . .
Thanks for chiming in Ben. I miss you bro. I’ve always loved your perspectives and insights.