Thursday, July 11, 2013

Unpolished

It was the summer of 1990, and my youth group was on a much-anticipated trip to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA. My mom helped me carefully pack all my clothes, toiletries, and odds and ends. We didn't have much discretionary income, but she took me shopping for new clothes anyway, and we prudently chose sale items that would work for a self-conscious, thirteen-year-old me. Including a pair of black shorts, which I chose to wear the day of the Busch Gardens trip.

That day was thrilling. My youth pastor set us loose in the park, only asking that we stay with a partner and meet back at a specific time. No parents telling me where to go, what to do, or what to eat? And roller coasters, rides and shows to keep me entertained all day long? And a "boyfriend" (who I really liked) to keep me company? For me, it was one of the best days of my whole entire thirteen years. So you can imagine the devastation I felt after I got off a water ride and discovered that my new black shorts, which my mother had not washed before I wore, had run little black rivers all down my legs and left little puddles of black on my perfectly positioned white crew socks and white off-brand Keds shoes. I was aghast, completely mortified, and sure that the entire park full of people was looking directly at my black-and-white striped legs. My friends did the best they could to help me wipe the black off with paper towels from the bathroom, but it stained my legs a weird gray-ish color, and there was no hope for the socks. My already fragile teenage confidence was shaken, and my insecurities surfaced full-force.

Sometimes, I still feel like that unpolished thirteen-year-old girl, with all her insecurities, all her awkwardness, all her gawky, ungraceful, floundering moments all wrapped up in an adult body. And I've noticed that when I start to feel uncomfortable, insecure or awkward, my first line of defense that I rely on is staying really, really quiet and concentrating really, really hard on how I look. But perfect hair and make-up, matching and coordinated clothes and accessories, or even staying perfectly skinny only masks what I'm truly feeling inside: like I'll never be enough, I'll never get it quite right, and that other people will not want to be around me if they knew the real me.

When it comes right down to it, I realize that I have a faulty operating system that defaults to an unhealthy attitude every time an uncomfortable situation arises. To set my world (and my security) right when I'm feeling off-kilter, all I have to do is remember where my security lies, and that's in the truth of God and His Word. Then I am reminded that I am the apple of His eye (Deuteronomy 32:9-11) and His crown of splendor (Isaiah 62:3).

It's not easy to reprogram a system that has been operating the same since before 1990, and my automatic default memory management routine needs some serious updating. But every time I take a step back-even for a second- and remember my God and His love for me, then my default is disrupted and a new order of business is written.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
 but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
{romans 12:2}

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