It seems as though Mrs. Obama has upset many people. It is not because of something she said. Nor is it because of something she did. It is because of something she wore.
Rather than choosing a dress made by an American designer for the State Dinner held last week, Mrs. Obama selected a dress made by a British designer. She has upset all kinds of people in the process, including Oscar de la Renta, according to today's Washington Post. Many people believe that the First Lady of the United States should always choose clothing inspired and created by people living in the United States. What she wears says something. Her choices speak volumes, many believe. Everything she wears is to bring honor and glory to America. She speaks for America - even with the clothing she wears.
As I read the article, I immediately gave thanks that each thing I wear is not scrutinized. I then remembered how I love wearing a robe on Sunday mornings because it prevents people in the congregation from looking at my clothing and then critiquing me for the way a skirt clings to my hips or the appropriateness of a hemline. I love hiding behind a white alb, forcing people to choose to critique something other than my clothing. But, I also believe that her critics are on to something - and that we should take note.
I do not have to choose clothing created by a particular designer. No one has asked me recently where my dress was made or who designed it. And still, what I do matters. As a Christian, I stand for something - someone. My actions, words and my very life are to tell a story. Everything I do and say is to point towards Christ. I am a living testimony.
When I was in college, my roommate would often tape different passages of scripture printed on colored notecards on our mirror in the sorority house. One of verses that appeared often is a passage from Ephesians where Paul writes, "Put on the whole armor of God so that you may stand against the schemes of the devil." My roommate Susan thought this verse would help when we went out on Friday nights only to stumble home later with the armor of God nowhere to be found. Susan knew that our lives were to be different - that we should live as though we were protected by God - as though we were wearing full armor.
I've not found this full armor hanging in my closet. I know well how easy it is to be stripped of this armor while driving down I-395 in rush hour traffic when my mouth sounds anything like that of a preacher. I know that the fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are not always tangibly present in my life. My actions do not always differentiate me from others around me. There are times when I stand for Christ and other times when my actions would steer people away from Christ.
Mrs. Obama was stunning in her red dress that she wore last week. She has received rave reviews for the glamorous look and fit. The dress is beautiful. Still, many people believe a principle was sidestepped with this choice. Many people would have prefered something entirely different - a dress choice that stood for the country for which she stands - whether she wants to or not.
Our choices matter. You are a testimony.