This March, a few of us are again embarking on the annual 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, and raising money for various orgs, including the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Initiative.
Yes, we raise money. We create awareness. But why did this one item of clothing thing even begin?
The LBD Project was a response to what I believe was a tug-of-God on my heart. By the time I embarked on the LBD Project that first time, five years ago, I feigned excitement on the outside while I resigned myself on the inside to this being another one of those things I'd feel like a failure about later. It didn't help that I was sure I was drawing too much attention to myself, no one cared, and it was just awkward.
It turned out something cool did happen, that year and all the following. We are now embarking on a new season, launching a new website and creating a more intentional project. Honestly, I am still amazed that God used this for, well, anything. And I would have never expected myself to be transformed through it either, let alone see how it has fostered leading others one step closer to God.
But at the time I felt so alone putting myself out there like that, as so many people were watching me do, well, not much of anything. And that was the part I could never explain well.
It was and still is strange to explain a self-created void, rather than a something physical and tangible. What I (and then later participants) were doing was nothing to make a difference. It was a lack, not a something. An opposite: we simply stopped doing what we normally did. Now I realize the LBD Project in many ways is a type of fast.
This week my eight-year-old girl began asking me about why I wanted to wear one dress for a month (she apparently didn't remember that I've been doing this since she was three). In that conversation, I finally felt like I was able to put into words why doing nothing was such a big deal.
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 LBD 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 through His son Jesus. They didn't know that Jesus wanted to and still does desire to restore them.
And so I wore a stupid dress.
I couldn't go on the streets to free a girl, run a marathon to raise money or start a non-profit (although, later, I did accidentally found NOVA HTI with a cool team). But dang it, I could wear the same item of clothing for a month.
Why am I telling you this and what does it have to do with you?
As you can probably guess by now, I am inviting you to join me. Don't try to free girls off of the street just yet, okay, run a marathon if you can, and you don't need to start another non-profit, because NOVA HTI is already here! Take a next step by considering doing the LBD Project this year (or commit to doing it the next).
I realize that for the majority of people, this project doesn't appeal (fasting usually doesn't). It makes it awkward to ask someone to be part of something they might immediately be inclined to say no to, but I am also pretty sure you would never even consider it unless you were specifically asked. And that is why I am asking.