I went to a youth rally over the weekend.
At this particular point in my life, I’m struggling not to feel… well, old.
A quick note to anyone older who might be reading this: Don’t do it. Bite it back. Your age has no bearing on my feelings. I feel old because of me, and I won’t feel any younger because of you.
I watched as women a few years younger than me, with tiny bodies that could fit through the eye of a sewing needle, dashed around with boundless energy, perfect hair, and the skin of newborn babies.
I tried not to feel like I wasted those years, and I tried not to think about what my face must have looked like after a full day of work had baked my makeup on.
The kicker on this was to hear a comment that this particular church was where are the pretty girls who were interested in ministry were.
Apparently, the unattractive and ungodly women are restricted to the other area churches.
There’s nothing like hearing my own viciously negative thoughts about myself confirmed through the mouth of someone else… and nothing like biting back the snarl (I almost wish I had said it… it really was brilliantly worded) that inevitably popped to these incorrigible lips of mine, while trying to run full tilt on four hours and forty-five minutes worth of sleep (perfectly adequate for a day at the office, not quite so for being a party animal).
Those words stuck like a burr under my saddle.
I woke up with them ringing in my ears… “You’d do okay in a men’s prison, but you’re nothing compared to everyone else… all those shorter, thinner, slightly-less-black (I live in the Ozarks… I hear that more often than you might think) women with sweetheart tattoos, and exquisite clothes, and bubbly personalities…”
This morning, I ran across the article below.
Let’s just say that it was exactly what I needed.
Miss Perfect and the 5 Stages of Grief
I went through the checkout line at Target the other day with $400 worth of groceries, including five jars of applesauce, four gallons of milk, two dozen eggs, and a couple cases of Juicy Juice. It was snowing outside, so naturally I was wearing my waterproof boots and my husband’s very large sweatshirt.
So there I was in all my mom glory when Miss Perfect decided to get in line behind me. Six inch heels, black tights, skirt, adorable knee-length trench, and a fabulous scarf—like she stepped out of a magazine. She unloaded seven items from the little basket in the crook of her arm, which included Starbucks Coffee grounds, bottled water, red lipstick, and a decorative pillow (I had time to take her inventory because I was buying enough to feed Kate Plus Eight).
And suddenly I plummeted into the five stages of grief.
Denial. I am NOT a cliché. My husband’s sweatshirt is cute-oversized, not frumpy-oversized. I would get nothing done if I didn’t dress this way. Yes, I need my stretch pants to do my job. In fact, I’m rocking these stretch pants. And snow boots. And t-shirt underneath that I worked out in before throwing on this sweatshirt. I’ll bet Miss Perfect wishes she had an over-sized sweatshirt that belonged to her husband who thinks she’s super hot no matter what she wears.
Anger. Seriously, this girl looks ridiculous. Who does she think she’s fooling? She must be desperate for attention. I mean really, a skirt and tights in the snow? So pathetic. So annoying.
Bargaining. But her shoes are so pretty. You know, it’s probably true what they say on What Not to Wear…stilettos can be worn for every activity if they’re paired with the right jeans. I’ll just have to buy some and get used to them while I grocery shop…and scrub the floor…and take the kids to practice…and write at my computer desk. Yes. I need new shoes because under my very comfortable clothes, I still got it.
Depression. What am I thinking? I GOT it? I’ve only SEEN it a few times since I had my first baby twelve years ago, and it’s certainly not what it used to be. This is it for me. I’m doomed to frump and buying in bulk. No more clothing ensembles. No more scarves that match the trim on my handbag. Just function and practicality and sensible shoes.
And then my manic train of thought was interrupted by diarrhea. No kidding. My kids had it the week before, and it was suddenly my turn. Thankfully, my carts—plural—were loaded and I was able to make a quick exit. I pushed and pulled them to the bathroom—push, pull, bang into the wall trying to open the door.
I sat down and laughed at the ridiculousness of the moment and my temporary insanity. And then, right there on the toilet, God reminded me of Ephesians 2:10 and who I really am.
For [you] are God’s masterpiece, created anew in Christ Jesus, so you can do the good things he planned for you long ago.
He told me to take my eyes off Miss Perfect and myself, and to fix my gaze on Him. Because the truth is, Miss Perfect will always be there. And so, while for the sake of my marriage I must occasionally exchange snow boots and sweatpants for a skirt and a great pair of heels, my self-worth must be rooted in my relationship with Christ or it will ebb and flow in the checkout line at Target.
No thank you, ebb and flow.
(No pun intended.)