I'm packed up and ready to go! So excited to be heading to the Allume Conference in South Carolina this week. Truly Truly! Here's a very shallow confession: While I am thrilled about receiving all the spiritual and practical encouragement I need as a writer, I am equal parts excited about laying out some pretty outfits and color coordinated jewelry. I even got my toe nails done in a dreamy coral hue then planned my weekend wardrobe around a palate of colors to compliment my toes. From earrings to shoes to my pretty notebooks all with pops of coral, packed away for three fanciful days of learning, worshipping, and making new friends.
Making new friends.
And it dawned on me this morning, as I dipped my pretty toes into the second chapter of James, if I'm all color-corordinated, strolling through the posh lobby at the Hyatt in downtown Greensville, I might miss out on the mismatched miracles all around me. Like friendship treasure standing right in front of me in line for a chai latte that first morning, but her grey yoga pants didn't coordinate with my look, and so I never see her. Completely miss out on the beauty she is and the beauty she shares.
My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
I wasn't more than 12 when I held those pretty children at VBS. It was my first time helping at our church's summer camp and I was singing and doing crafts for a whole week with kinder-kids. There we were in a circle on the ground. The same scratchy carpet itching at my legs, in the same room I worshiped in on Sunday mornings. This was the Jr. High room. Repurposed for the kindergarteners that week. But the point is that it was a place I knew, where much of my own learning in the Word took place, and now I sat with all these little people singing scripture and clapping hands.
We weren't two songs deep into our fun that first day when the most darling blond with big blue eye like Cindy-Woo Who, crawled across the itchy floor and up into my lap. A verse or two later two more pretty things found their way to each side of me. I was now flanked by precious girls with hair braids neatly in place. Two of the three had mothers who fringed the sleeves on their camp tee-shirts, adorning each string with colorful plastic beads. Every movement sang a beautiful melody.
Though bookended by beauty, God in His goodness allowed the world's scales to drop from my eyes, and I saw the other children around our circle, equally prescious, but not color-coordinated or magazine groomed. And I thought of the confidence those "pretty kids" had, to make their way to my side and into my lap, like they knew they belonged. And ironically, I don't. Never have. Not naturally. Which may be why I have to plan weeks in advance if one weekend's wardrobe is going to pop.
Because I'm still the kindergartener in the oversized tee shirt hanging like a tent over my baby fat, with a short hair-cut blending me into the pack of boys. I'd never dare cross the scratchy brown floor to crawl into a counselor's lap and sing like I belonged. Which may be why I found my belonging so entirely in the lap of Jesus when I was young, and I've remained planted there ever since.
But no one will know that core truth about who I am and where I find my seat, and my worth, and my identity, if I walk out into life so utterly focused on my color coordinated appearance.
Your adornment must not be merely external-- braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
1 Peter 3:3-4
Oh, no doubt, it's great fun to be a girl, a lady, a woman, but let's purpose today to prefer the beauty hidden deep inside of ourselves and one another. In our neighborhoods, our workplaces, our mid-week worship services, and while picking up the children from school this afternoon...
Let your jewelry make a sweet melody as you walk through this life, because it's fun... but let's not find our worth there, our seat there. Instead, let's find our greatest pleasure in crawling humbly across the scratchy floor of life and finding our home in the all inclusive, loving lap of Jesus.