So I have this one sweater that I love.
I bought it when the fall of my sophomore year in college (perspective: I’m a senior now). My friend Michaela was wearing a gigantic sweater, and I wanted one, too. My boyfriend at the time teased me for buying a sweater when I had just lamented how little money I had. But it was $12 on Etsy, and I had already fallen in love with it.
It’s a beige-y cardigan, reaching to about mid-thigh. The knit is large, and the sweater itself is at least four sizes too big for me (probably more). There are a few holes in it, each one on the right side; my favorite is in a perfect spot for me to stick my thumb through.
There’s a photo of me wearing the sweater the day it came in the mail. I picked up the package when I got home from school that day, and I needed to show it off to my best friends, so I put it on and took a photo of my broadly smiling self in the full-length mirror on my closet door. I have on red jeans (back when I wore red jeans), a black V-neck (so many Texas Tech colors), and this gigantic, Bohemian beige cardigan. Oy.
At the time, I couldn’t really express why I wanted this sweater so badly (other than the fact that it was, and remains, an adorable trend). But now I know myself a little better. It was the Christmas following this purchase that I realized that I craved adventure. I loved this loose, schlubby cardigan because it reminded me of adventure.
Maybe it sounds a little weird.
But every time I put it on I feel a little bit of wanderlust. It reminds me of something you would wear when you travel. It reminds me of the trusty, nondescript articles of clothing worn by protagonists in my favorite stores. It reminds me, oddly, of England and hillsides and old stone.
I cannot explain to you how a secondhand sweater that smells a little bit like an old woman evokes these feelings to me.
I can only tell you that every time I put it on, I feel a little bit more like myself, and I get a little more adventurous in my heart. Or, rather, I’m reminded of the adventure-spirit that has always been there, but that maybe I’ve forgotten.
I think (and hope) that everyone has these kinds of things: things that remind you of who you really are, of what your heart is like inside. I think it’s important that we surround ourselves with these things. They call us back to our identities, our real selves, our joys, and who we know ourselves to be in our hearts.
What are these things for you? I have a few: my leather, messenger-style purse, which has been with me for almost four years now — a little beat up, but none the worse for wear. It reminds me of the hobbits and what they might have carried on their journeys. Every time I need a new journal, I order one of the Moleskine Hobbit journals, to poke my heart awake with Tolkien’s wide skies, huge mountains, and the adventures that first lit me up inside. I have favorite pens, to remind me to write more. To me, they're the closest thing to a quill pen I'll ever actually use.
The Reminder that is nearest and dearest to me, though, is my necklace. I’ve been wearing the same necklace every day since the summer I turned seventeen: a treble clef charm I bought from the Murano Glass Factory in Venice, Italy. Travel and music and tremendous meaning, all wrapped up in the pendant that's been hanging from my neck for not quite five years.
It is invaluable for us to have things in our lives that remind us of our real selves, of who God has made us to be. It’s a way of being kind to ourselves, of honoring our hearts, of honoring God and the ways He has chosen to create.
I hope these kinds of things show up in your life. I hope you honor the way God has made you. I hope you know your heart and celebrate the knowing. I hope it makes us -- you and I -- a little freer.
What sorts of heart-reminders do you have in your life?