Even as a newborn, I knew I was destined to be a blonde. Yet somehow fate gave me a head full of bushy, dark hair. So, I spent the time in my crib rubbing my head against the mattress until all the brunette fell out.
My hair grew back in golden blonde, my destiny. I was blonde all my school years, although at some point, I realized my hair had darkened. I had become more of a dishwater blonde, but still blonde. My identity remained intact.
Sometime after my son was born, my husband and my brother-in-law engaged in a discussion on the color of my hair. (Why they were discussing my hair has been lost to history.) My husband contended I was a blonde, while my brother-in-law insisted I had, at best, light-brown hair.
I took a good look in the mirror.
Had I really gone to the dark side? Let’s just say, my hair wasn’t as blonde as I’d have liked it to be. Easily rectified, and for the next 25 or so years, I rectified it.
But lately, I’ve been thinking about going natural.
This isn’t as easy a decision as you might think. I’ve worked a lot of years at being a blonde. I realize in this era of changing your hair color to suit your mood – pink, brown, purple, blonde – it’s become more spur of the moment fun, than a life changing decision.
My choice shouldn’t be that monumental. But you have to realize, I grew up in the “blondes have more fun” era, Farah Fawcett flanked by two brunettes, blonde ambition, etc.…
Invested or Involved?
Lately my ongoing hair debate has made me think.
Do we sometimes face an identity dilemma as Christians?
We carry on as always. But is it really “us” anymore?
We are involved; no one can say we don’t do our part. But sometimes I think we use the word involved when we should use the word invested.
Are we invested as Christians?
You can be involved, but not invested:
You teach class because someone has to do it.
You attend a Small Group because your spouse wants to go.
You are in the pew at worship time because it’s your duty.
But does God only want us to scratch the surface as Christians?
When you are invested:
You teach because you are helping grow a new generation of Christians.
You attend a Small Group because you want to get to know your fellow Christians on a deeper level as you study God’s word.
You are in the pew at worship time because you are honoring and praising God.
As with anything, it comes down to attitude.
As we constantly search our hearts and minds, ever guarding against becoming complacent in our worship of the Creator, we need to not only be involved, but be involved because we are invested.
As for my hair, am I still invested in being blonde? My hair dresser and I will let you know.
A simple question, but one that threw me into a panic. My carefully cleaned hall bath was in use. That left my definitely not-ready-for-guests master bathroom. In one moment, I had to decide whether to graciously say yes, (oh please, help me to have remembered to close the closet door on our dirty laundry) or plead a lack of toilet paper. I’m not sure which scenario would have left me looking worse, but as I mentioned, I was panicking.
In the end, I let my guest use the bathroom and hoped she ignored the used towels and toothpaste splattered mirror. And please, let her be gracious enough to stay out of my medicine cabinet.
The Medicine Cabinet of the Heart
Bathrooms are truly the great equalizers of life. Want to know a little secret? Everyone hides scary things in their medicine cabinet. The lady who always looks like the wind wouldn’t dare blow her hair stocks Gas Away medicine by the case. The lady who makes you feel like nothing ever goes wrong in her life hides hemorrhoid cream behind her moisturizer. And the woman whose kids call every day, twice on Sundays – well, that little mustache razor doesn’t belong to her hubby.
We often don’t see the ugly in other people’s lives. And unfortunately, that can lead to a type of reverse judging. I see your clean house, supposedly perfect family, and totally put together life and decide my prayers aren’t needed. Why pray for someone who has no real problems?
But if I could look into the medicine cabinet of your heart, I might see a different story.
I’d see a Sunday school teacher who struggles with a substance abuse problem.
A mother whose heart breaks as she prays about the wrong choices her child is making.
Or the woman who, every morning, prays every prayer she has to fight her pain just to get out of bed.
And beneath it all, beneath the embarrassing secrets and heartbreaking pain, is a terror of being judged, especially by her fellow Christians.
I need to start focusing on the heart.
Not because it makes me feel better to know Ms. Perfect also has problems, but because Proverbs 12:25 tells us,
Anxiety weighs down the heart,but a kind word cheers it up.
We all have anxiety and pain. I need to look past your carefully crafted-exterior. I need to see the fellow Christian sister who hurts. I need to throw away the judgement and simply approach with love. I need to be the kind word.
As for that actual medicine cabinet in the bathroom – if you keep your mouth shut about mine, I promise to keep mine shut about yours!
Prayer Over our Hearts
Dear Lord, I don’t need to know all You know. But I pray that You help me to see the needs of others. And, Lord, help me be willing to help, love, and comfort, but never judge. In Your Son’s name, Amen
At the age of nine, all it took was a pair of orange stirrup pants to make me feel groovy. Purple and pink paper flowers decorated my room. Peace signs adorned my notebooks. Some might say I was too young to be a true flower child, but I felt hip.
In junior high, all it took to feel special was a pair of white go-go boots, castoffs of my much cooler aunt. So what if I had to rub white polish on them daily so the worn places wouldn’t show? My boots were made for walking! My room smelled of incense, and posters of Shaun Cassidy and Donny Osmond hung on the wall. Okay, not quite a rock rebel, but I felt cool.
In high school, the piece of clothing that made me “with it” was a lime green peasant blouse, another hand-me-down from my aunt. My friend and I giggled when we heard her mother moan to a friend, “You can’t tell the difference between these and maternity tops.” What a shame to grow old and be so “out of it.”
Then, one day years later, I stood in the auto department of Walmart, waiting patiently while my husband studied each and every type of windshield wiper the store carried. Bored, I gazed around until my eyes spotted a grouping of mirrors.
That’s when I had it…my middle-aged moment.
I could see myself in the mirrors. In fact, I could see myself several times over. It wasn’t my dress or even my shoes that made me stare. It was my purse, a no-nonsense affair attached to my arm by two sturdy straps. It was a middle-aged woman’s purse.
I was middle aged.
I know how it happened. Those birthdays I’d joyfully celebrated had turned on me. But still, going from the bloom of youth to the top of the downhill slide–well, that was hard. It required a whole change in attitude…namely depression.
While I didn’t pull a black scarf over my head and take up residence in my rocking chair, I did, in a sense, give up. After all, I wasn’t young anymore, certainly wasn’t “with it,” and I hadn’t been cool for a long time. This depression could have gone on forever if I hadn’t realized I was looking in the wrong direction along my timeline.
While thumbing through a magazine one day, I came across an article about an artist. She was proudly in her sixties, making no apologies for her age. Her clothes weren’t the latest style. She’d even allowed her hair to go gray. And she looked wonderfully graceful, tailored, and confident.
I wanted to be her.
But how? I have the grace of a gazelle without night vision. If I wear anything remotely tailored, I guarantee I will spill soup on it or pop at least two buttons. Confidence? If I had that, I wouldn’t be eyeing the black scarf and rocking chair! After rifling through my wardrobe and contemplating a bonfire, I almost slipped back into my depression. I couldn’t be her.
Then I recalled the wise words of Psalms 139:14.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
I couldn’t be her, but I could be me. Ah yes, that was the lesson. Her grace and confidence came not from imitating others, but from living happy as herself.
Could I be happy as myself? Yes, but first I had to change my thinking. I needed to start acting like I believed the verse.
I am not pale, but fair (or on a good day, gossamer).
I am not chubby, but curvy.
I am not average, but fabulous and unique, the best (and only) me that exists.
God created me and he didn’t do it as a joke.
He made me wonderful! And He loves me. We all need to remind ourselves of that very true fact.
Seriously, try singing “Jesus Loves Me” at the top of your voice (preferably in the privacy of your own home). Treat it not like a children’s song, but as an affirmation that yes, Jesus loves YOU. Not because you’re graceful. Not because you always say the right thing, and certainly not because you wear the latest styles. He loves you because you are worth loving. Of course you are–He made you.
Have I suddenly developed grace? No, I’m still bumping my way through life just like that night vision-impaired gazelle.
I’ll never be twenty again. Anything dewy about my skin comes from a bottle. Perky has never described my personality and now it doesn’t come near to describing my body.
But now, my timeline faces forward. So what if I’m middle-aged? That simply means I’m in the middle of life’s adventure, still looking forward to where it’s going to take me. God’s got plans.
As for that middle-aged purse? It’s gone, baby, it’s gone!
I knew exactly what I wanted–a simple, white stepstool to use in my closet. I decided on a price range and intended to stick to it. Feeling like a savvy consumer, I logged onto Amazon and confidently used the price filters, so there would be no temptations. Soon, white stepstools filled the screen. Perfect!
Then I spotted it under “Customers who viewed this item also viewed.”It was a beautiful, white Moroccan leather pouf. I instantly fell in love. It would look perfect in my closet. And how practical! The pouf would give me a comfy place to sit. Why I wanted to sit in my closet, I’m not sure, but I know I had my reasons. I imagined sitting on the pouf while slipping on a pair of high-heeled pumps (never mind that I don’t wear high heels, they just seemed to fit the fantasy of the pouf).
Then my eyes fell on the price. Instant fantasy squasher! I squared my shoulders and slipped back to reality and my simple, white stepstool.
But Amazon wasn’t to be defeated so easily. They suggested another pouf, this one closer to my price range. It wouldn’t hurt to look, right? I clicked. This pouf didn’t have the hand-sewn detail that the first one sported. But, it really wasn’t that much more than I’d intended to spend…
However, it didn’t inspire any fantasies.
No problem. Amazon was ready with a third option. I clicked on yet another white pouf. It nudged slightly closer to the dream. And, the price was just a bit more than I’d planned to spend.
Wait a minute.
The price was a little bit more than the price of the first pouf, not the stepstool. It was actually quite a bit more than the price I’d originally planned to spend. Common sense asserted itself. The pouf was huge. It would take up the entire floor of my side of the closet, even if I did fudge a bit onto my hubby’s side. I envisioned balancing on top of the pouf, while trying to put a leg in my jeans. Even if the price of the pouf didn’t give me pause, possible hospital bills did. Not to mention explaining to my husband that it was actually called a pouf.
Falling into the Rabbit Hole of Sin
Amazon had dragged me toward a seductive rabbit hole, and I’d almost fallen in. The slippery slope reminded me of the slippery slope of sin.
It’s just a little white lie.
It’s just an innocent flirtation.
It’s just an interesting human-interest story.
But that little white lie turns into a major deception. The innocent flirtation becomes a full-fledged affair. The interesting human-interest story gets back to someone, and they are devastated.
And we end up blinking and wondering how we got into such a mess. Colossians 3:17 tells us, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
WWJD bracelets may be out of fashion, but the thinking behind them isn’t.
A friend once told me that when her children were little, the family lived in a house with a driveway on an incline. Their children weren’t allowed to ride their bikes into the street. But the rule was: Don’t start down the incline, because once you start, you can’t stop.
Sin is like that. You can’t wait until you’re knee-deep in it to say no. You’ve got to put on the brakes before the deception, before the affair, before the gossip.
Would you say it in front of Jesus? Would you do it in front of Jesus (or your spouse?)
We’re all guilty of nearing the slippery slope, of thinking, “There’s no harm…”
But there is always harm in sin.
Keep me in your thoughts. I’m buying cute little baskets next!
My best friend and I love touring houses the way some people love watching football games. It’s an addiction. When we wander through an especially gorgeous house decorated in the style of a bygone era –touchdown! Of the many tours we’ve taken over the years, one foray stands out: the time we inadvertently joined a parade.
In the days before smart phones and GPS systems, my friend and I relied on memory, fuzzy at the best of times. We found ourselves driving up and down the streets of a small town looking for an elusive address. We turned onto a small side street and drove halfway down the block before hearing the music. A marching band headed straight toward us! Behind the band, a local (unadvertised) parade enthusiastically followed. We stopped. They didn’t. Obviously, the drum majorette and her crew felt they had the right of way.
Then we noticed the people lining the sidewalk. They stared, some laughing and pointing. Inside the car, four red cheeks burned in deep embarrassment. Only loyalty to my friend kept me from ducking onto the floorboard and cowering out of sight. Instead, I faced the music–er, parade–with her. I held my head high, albeit, with a protective hand between my face and the car window.
“What do I do?” asked my friend who was, thankfully, doing the driving.
“Hit the gas and play chicken” didn’t seem a suitable reply. The only advice I could muster was, “Put it in reverse and back up until we find a parking space.” So that’s what we did. Some of the crowd applauded as we reversed. Some waved. My mother’s admonishment to always “be polite’ echoed in my ears, and I waved back. Once safely in the parking space, my friend and I turned to each other and burst out laughing. No words, just laughter. I have to admit, after leading a parade in reverse, touring the house was a bit of a letdown.
Now let me say, I’m an introvert. So for me, messing up in front of others is akin to one of those dreams where you show up at school in your underwear, after having studied for the wrong test and you’re at the wrong school. Poise and elegance aren’t in my DNA.
Like most of us, I long to be perfect. But too often, my life consists of flaws, hiccups, and “I can’t believe I said that” moments. I’ve also had my share of moments driving backwards down the parade of life without a parking space in sight.
And that’s okay. In fact, I like to think I inspire others, or at least make them feel better about themselves. Maybe that’s my role as a Christian. People aren’t really interested in conversing with saints. They want to meet sinners, like themselves, that God has redeemed. Isaiah 64:8 says,
“But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.”
If God can take my lumpy clay and mold me into something wonderful, then surely he can do the same for others.
And if I’m going to be even a little bit of an example, maybe it’s to show we shouldn’t let our insecurities have such a stranglehold on us. Take that parade. My friend and I didn’t quite panic, but we certainly were embarrassed. However, we went with it. That’s how life is. Sometimes you watch the parade, and sometimes, those very rare times, you get to lead it. Just don’t be so afraid of making a fool of yourself that you miss the parade entirely.