Each and every year a group of us take part in a collective movement, the Little Black Dress Project. If you aren’t familiar with it, essentially we choose an item of clothing and wear it each day for a month to bring awareness to human trafficking, challenging ourselves while raising money for various organizations.
Okay. We all might agree that is a great do-gooder thing. But, why? Specifically, why that?
Although I’ve been answering the question of “why?” for the last five years, when my eight-year old daughter began to ask me about the LBD Project, I found myself explaining its story differently in a way a child could grasp. Answering her required me to really look back on the whole process of starting the Little Black Dress Project, and gave me some added depth to why we do it, which I will be sharing with you over the next few weeks.
Only Feigning the Thrill
The Little Black Dress Project was a response to what I believe was a tug-of-God on my heart. During that first LBD Project I was really good at acting excited on the outside, while on the inside I had resigned myself to this being just another one of those things. You know, the ones that you tuck in your cupboard of lies for later. It didn’t help that I was sure I was drawing too much attention to myself, and it was just awkward to do in front of so many indifferent friends.
In many ways, I did the LBD Project to get this commitment to myself and God off of my chest.
But it turned out something cool did happen, that year and all of the following. And now we are now embarking on a new season, launching a new website and have been working to create a more intentional project that ordinary world-changers can join.
Honestly, I am still amazed that God used this for, well, anything. I never expected myself to be transformed through it either, let alone see how this non-religious thing has fostered individuals to take one step closer to God.
But of course, most things that turn out great never feel that great at the beginning, even when you are working your booty-off to try to get everyone else believe it is A.W.E.S.O.M.E.!!!!!!!!! In fact, today, the first day of LBD Project 2016, I am already being clobbered by those unrelenting feelings of loneliness, insignificance, and fear of failure. Those feelings I was just talking about, shut away for safe keeping until they bang and screech to come out to play. (Yep. Those ones. You know the ones. But here’s how I tell them to shut-up!)
It is lonely to put yourself out there like this, with so many people watching you do, well, not much of anything except being counter-cultural. (This part I could never explain well either, but as the art of creating a void is so vital in becoming a world changer I want to do it justice by giving it its own space to work through another time.)
So why did I do it? Doing nothing (i.e., dressing in a counter-cultural manner) was actually the only thing I felt I could do. I knew something wasn’t the way God’s kingdom should be–with extreme oppression of my brothers and sisters, an extreme lack of justice, heart-wrenching emotional trauma, sex misused, families and friendships broken, and the general apathy of the Church unintentionally creating the opposite of the reflection I believe God desires the Church to mirror Him as–how could I ignore that?
For me, wearing that same dress for a month was anything but a do-gooder project. Wearing that first little black dress was an act of desperation, an internal cry reflecting the cries of those not knowing that God was/is still there, and had/does love them. They didn’t know that Jesus wanted to and still does desire to restore them, beauty from ashes.
And so I wore a stupid dress.
I couldn’t start a non-profit (although I incidentally did later–check-it here). I couldn’t run a marathon to raise money–heck, even now I can barely can run a block! (I’ll be the first one down during the ever-looming zombie apocalypse and that is O.K. with me.) And no, like others before me I didn’t hug a tree, set myself on fire, refuse to eat, or purposefully stay standing when everyone else was bowing to the Idol, prepared to be thrown into a furnace of flames.
But dang it, I could wear the same item of clothing for a month! Because despite how I hate to fail and despise being lonely, I couldn’t just keep turning away from injustice.
I think at some point we get to a place where we just can’t deal with it anymore (maybe think about how you feel about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton these days). But we aren’t able to turn away from it anymore either. And if we stay silent any longer, we die a little bit inside.
These moments are the glorious ones, those precious intersections in time in which world-changers are born.
For me, my lack of silence was a dress. I wonder what it will be for my daughter, who prompted this reflection. And I wonder what it will be for you.
If you don’t really know what the Little Black Dress Project is, or what it entails, please check out our new website (kinks and all) or go to the LBD Project tab above. It isn’t too late to join it and we’d love you to donate $10, as we can make such a huge impact together! (Just watch what happens when #WorldChangersUnite!)
When have you taken a stand in for justice and how did you do it? Is there something you know you are at the place in which you can’t look away any longer?
Let me know in the comments below, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you!