I own an ethical online fashion marketplace called Thread Harvest. The journey in owning and running this business has challenged me in the way I understand fashion, the way I personally consume fashion and what my stewardship of these things means in the light of God’s call for us to steward the world well. So deep runs this conviction that sometimes walking into a store that I know exploits its workers or doesn’t honour the planet in the way it creates its products, I feel physically sick. Try as I might to even wander through the store, I often will need to leave quickly, abandoning whoever I’m with whilst they peruse the shelves, whilst I go in search of relief.
Even I am surprised at this reaction.
Brooke Fraser, in her 2006 album “Albertine”, says this profound line in the title track for the album:
“Now that I have seen, I am responsible”
Now that I have seen, I am responsible. How is it that our eyes, or what we see, can bestow upon us the heaviness of responsibility?
In the song, Brooke was specifically referring to a young girl who had been orphaned by the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. But I believe there is something deeply profound in these lyrics that translate to our whole life.
Our responsibility might not always be to physically act, but whatever we look at, whatever we choose to put into our mind, heart or body, we now have a responsibility as to what we’re going to do with what we have just consumed.
I have seen, read, watched and learned about the devastation that our consumeristic ways are having on people and planet. The more I educate myself, the more my outward decisions change because of my inward state has changed. It’s like an infinity loop, what comes in, ultimately comes out and will loop back in if I remain unconscious to what I consume.
Proverbs tells us to “keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life.”
We’re to protect our hearts because what we allow into it, will ultimately flow out of it.
What we direct our eyesight to, will ultimately make us responsible for the life that flows from our hearts.
Luke puts it this way “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45)
Our stewardship of what we look at, what we read, what we watch, what we eat, the way we engage with our bodies – all of it effects and subsequently flows out of our life source, the heart.
My strong reaction to those stores is because I have cultivated a deep connection to seeing God’s justice worked out in the world. It begins in my heart and overflows into my physical actions.
So what I put into my heart matters. It matters a lot.
Equally what I put into my mind matters. It matters a lot.
Philippians 4:8 tells us “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
And what I put into my body matters. It matters a lot.
Corinthians 6:19-20 states “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
We can either choose to be conscious in our decisions around how we steward what we watch on TV, what we allow into our minds, what we consume for our bodies, or we can continue to sleep through our consumption, opting to live out our lives on autopilot.
Everything we do is an overflow of our heart, mind and soul. All of it leads us to say things, do things, respond to things based on what we consume/ allow into our spirit. If you’re surprised at how you respond or think about circumstances that arise in your life, your first stop is to think through what you have consumed recently (or been consuming for years) and what you’re doing about your responsibility of stewardship.
Now that you have seen, you are responsible.