I went back over the past few days to read many of the posts on plainness and simplicity on this forum from last couple of years. Reading them all together like that I was struck by the commonality of the experience of trying to change, as adults, the image we project to the public (and maybe to ourselves!). It challenges me to think about the concept of "self-image", what is that, and why does it seem to stand in the way of what we feel we are led to do? Most writers did not seem to doubt their leading to plainness, but they struggled with presenting that to the public and family and that caused so much anxiety.
I thought about how we develop our self-image as children and then particularly as teens, and we cling to that as adults as the face we show to the world. Even though many adults throughout history have made drastic changes to their image - many dramatic adult religious conversions for example - it still seems like a foreign concept to the general culture that adults can truly be serious when they feel the need for such a change. And for me that then makes me doubt that I am serious, especially as it seems that the type of person to be a seeker attracted to such changes may perhaps have tried other relationships with spirituality in the past, such as different churches or whatever. Being one of those people myself, I can say that having such a history makes me very susceptible to the fear that others look at me and feel I'm just off on one of those tangents again, rather than seeing that seeking is a long journey, and that maybe the process of seeking IS the journey, rather than the arriving at the "correct" destination and finally settling down (which most people seem to do so easily)!
As for SELF image I think that Jesus is bringing that up in my face as well! After all, we expend so much energy maintaining that SELF image, in dress, words, attitudes, beliefs, relationships etc. that truly should have gone to higher ends. As I think of changing my image it strikes at my deepest fears of losing all - as I cling to my self image with all my strength as if that is WHO I really AM!
Ever since an intense spiritual awakening experience a few years ago I know that I am in fact nothing, and that God is everything! So what is this SELF that I cling to? And is perhaps this why I am being pushed so hard what feels to me like over a cliff? To be forced to strip off my last hold on that self-image and give it up in public and replace it with the clothing of service to the Spirit.
I'm not sure if this is speaking to anyone but it is helping me to clarify what all my inner struggle is really about.
Blessings to all. Knowing that you are all there is making this so much easier. It is indeed a long process, much more than I ever would have thought.