No matter what daily trial you face, what you wear can help you face it.
I first made the connection between my level of bravery and what I’m wearing about a decade ago. My baby was born with breathing issues and began his life with a month-long hospital stay. As we were preparing to take Henry home, a nurse handed me a nasogastric feeding tube: “You’ll have to insert this all by yourself before we let you go,” she said.
“Sure,” I replied, trying to play it cool even though the idea of shoving a tube up my baby’s nose and into his stomach totally freaked me out. That’s when I looked down at the Joan of Arc shirt I happened to be wearing that day. It’s one of my absolute favorites, as I own many.
“I’m not afraid,” the shirt read, “I was born to do this!”
Besides this well-known quote from the 15th-century French soldier girl, the tee also had Joan of Arc – the picture of courage – riding high on her horse while waving her long white banner that reads “Jesus and Mary.” This banner, also known as a standard – is what the teenage saint famously carried into battle when she led her country to victory against the English during the 100 Years War.
So I grabbed the feeding tube from the nurse and inserted it into Henry’s nose like a champ — or rather, like a French soldier girl. Since then, my 7 asthmatic sons have had several more hospital stays. I now never take off for the hospital without seeking Joan of Arc’s intercession and at least a few of her tee-shirts in my bag. I also wear them while shopping with toddlers at the supermarket, because all kinds of everyday activities take more courage than we realize.
And really, this tip I’m espousing is nothing new. Countless religious orders have embraced the tradition of one’s outward dress being a sign of an inward reality. The Bible talks about the wise woman who “clothes herself in strength and dignity”; this same woman “laughs at the days to come.” And while I realize this proverb is talking about something deeper than a person’s actual outfit, its author used the word “clothe” for good reason.
Personally, I’ve experienced the verse to mean laying out an array of Joan of Arc tee-shirts on my bed in order to pick the one that’s just right for the battle I’ll face that day.
St. Joan of Arc, pray for us!