Written by: Amy Dalke
I have always had a deep affection for brand names.
And by affection, I mean something that resembles obsession.
It’s kind of like wearing someone else’s name is my personal stamp of approval.
From the time I was in third grade and all my friends wore Keds, I have been aware that a name – and wearing a name – holds power.
My mom didn’t want to spend the $25 on real Keds, so I wore the Payless version instead, which didn’t have a blue rubber tag on the back. My eight year old heart felt a bit “lesser” in value compared to my blue tag wearing friends. (In hindsight, I do think I owned one pair with the said tag. But it was slightly elongated and said, “Made in China”.) (Didn’t count.)
When others in my crowd wore Guess jeans and outfits by Esprit (purchased from Dillards, where only rich people shopped), my denim wear had a Levi’s label. Or Lee, whichever was on sale at Sear’s during the Back to School mall rush.
I did own a pair of Z. Cavaricci’s at one time. And I used part of my graduation money in 1996 to buy a pair of Birkenstocks. (My dad did not agree that this was an appropriate purchase for collegiate endeavors.)
The brand name affinity didn’t end with my teenage years. I still have some obsessive tendencies towards particular designers.
I might as well hold up a sign on a street corner, proclaiming:
“Will work for Tory Burch accessories.
Will also consider payment in Ralph Lauren gift cards.”
Think I am exaggerating? I proved this true, when I struck a deal with my partner two years ago. As a reward for exceeding a certain revenue target, I opted for a hand bag over cold hard cash.
Not just any hand bag, mind you.
The incentive was to hit a certain level of revenue production in a two-month period. If I hit that goal, I could buy a Louis Vuitton purse, which basically cost more than Luke’s birth at Memorial Hermann Hospital.
I worked harder than ever for that bag.
What is up with this…craziness for brand names?
Okay, so I get it. There is nothing wrong with having nice things. This is not an attempt to charter some new Jesus People Against Neiman Marcus movement.
However, it’s one thing to have a slight affection for nice things…
…and quite another one to have an obnoxious preoccupation with STUFF.
It’s taken years of mining my heart to understand my hang-ups in this area.
The conclusive evidence points to insecurity. (You think?) For years…and years…my self-concept was built on some shaky soil.
I was not secure enough to hold my head high in my JCPenney clothes, because I didn’t know my own unique worth.
(I’m still learning what that is, quite frankly.)
My unprofessional opinion is that my love for all things brand name is rooted in the desire to belong…..or to be accepted. By adorning my body, shoulders, or feet with a designer’s name, I am letting people know I belong to the Cool Club. The Elite. The Specials.
In Isaiah 44:5, the Lord says, “Some will proudly claim, ‘I belong to the Lord.’ Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’ Some will write the Lord’s name on their hands and will take the honored name of Israel as their own.” (NLT)
The chapter goes on to describe the folly of idolatry, and the destructive nature of manufactured idols.
It’s not that I consciously bow down to Hudson jeans, but that’s only because the altar is set up in my own head. (There’s no other way around it: the sharp end of the Word sticks me between the ribs on this topic.)
[Press pause for a second so I can underscore this next statement.]
Buying and proudly wearing designer couture does not signal a lack of love for Jesus. It is not wrong to appreciate Something-Anything Designer.
It just might be an issue if our hearts are hung up on their pursuit.
Truth be told, however, there is no pair of blue jeans that can wash this deluded heart whiter than snow. No pair of Louboutins will redeem me, and the joy of many a Nordstrom purchase rarely lingers past the first twenty four hours. (Actually, that joy is usually squashed flat as soon as Larry catches me carrying in the bags…)
There is a Name…Only One Name that will save.
Matthew 12:21 – “And His NAME will be the hope of the world.”
Philippians 2:9 – “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the NAME that is above every NAME, that at the NAME of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Now that is a Name that deserves our deep affection.
His is a Name that provides a solid foundation for identity…and self worth.
I’m pretty sure I would rather align my worth to The Maker of the Universe instead of the Maker of Really Cool Handbags.
He is aptly described as The Ancient of Days, which outlasts the passing Trends of the Season. (Speaking of…according to Anthropologie, it’s time to say “so long” to skinny jeans.) (I hope that made your day.)
Above all this…the greatest news in the whole world is that Jesus wanted you to belong to Him. He has your name written on His hand. He chose to identify with you.
“See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:16 NLT)