My Blueberry Jacket Pt 2
About four months after deciding to keep my jacket, I left Ontario and headed back to California. During that transition, I got rid of 60% of what I owned. I packed and sealed most of my clothes, including my purple jacket, in space bags and headed to Fresno.
In the six months following my transition, I lived a vagabond lifestyle. After a handful of toxic mold exposures–including my mother's house, where I had planned to live in between jobs–my immune system exploded, and I became allergic to everything. Yes, just about everything. My overactive immune system forced me to reduce my already restricted diet and get rid of even more of my possessions (anything I couldn't wash the mold out of, like shoes, had to go). I spent months looking for housing that didn't cause a painful allergic reaction–a nearly impossible feat.
Most of my clothes stayed in space bags in my mother's garage while I was searching for housing. In the Central Valley heat, the clothes developed a plastic smell that my body started reacting to. I tried everything I could at the time, but getting rid of the smell seemed impossible. I only had a few outfits and, for months, had to hand wash them (laundromats and friends' washing machines would leave my clothes smelling like their detergent and fabric softener, and I would react to the smell). I could tell at times my appearance raised judgments and concerns, but I didn't have the luxury of caring or doing much about it. My possessions quickly felt more like a burden than a treasure.
As I was preparing for lent a couple of months later, I asked God if he wanted me to fast from anything. Even though my heart was open to what God would say, I wondered what I could possibly give up. My life had taken on the form of a forever fast–I could only eat about seven different things and had lost so much. Thankfully, God told me he didn't want me to give anything up. Instead, he wanted me to receive. I wasn't sure what this meant or if God had actually said it, but I opened my heart to the idea that theoretical goodness would come to me.
I did my best to maintain an open, expectant posture during the season and was surprised by all I received. One friend actually gave me a nice jacket that didn't fit their daughter anymore. It seemed like everywhere I turned, there was goodness and provision–not just theoretical, but tangible. Bad news and difficult circumstances even had gifts to offer–a bout of shingles allowed me to rest at a dear friend's house for a few days. I began to expect good things and look for goodness in small moments and treasures I would have overlooked before, like a sunset, green grass, time and energy to walk, etc. It was as though God was wooing me into deeper trust and intimacy with him.
As my life slowly became more stable, I was able to remove the plastic smell from a small percentage of clothes, including my lululemon jacket, and my immune system calmed down just a bit. With a heart full of gratitude for all I had received and a deepened sense of God's provision, I was finally able to give the jacket away. God's generosity and freedom moved in and through me. Immediately, my soul soared, no longer torn or afflicted but fueled by joy. An assignment that felt like a loss, like God was taking something away, was truly an invitation to receive immeasurably more: an experience of his generosity, a taste of deeper freedom, trust in his provision, and greater awareness of just how much he knows and cares for me.