Be careless in your dress if you must, but keep a tidy soul. ~Mark Twain
“I can do it, I can make them fit.” I told myself when I was in the 3rd grade as I was trying to button my pants. It’s hard when you are having a growth spurt, and you can’t wear your favorite outfit. And, man, was this an outfit. The pants were made of the softest pink corduroy that made a noise that sounded like Velcro ripping a hundred times as I walked down the hallway at school. The top was a white turtleneck with pink strawberries printed all over it. Yes, I was a full-blown child of the 80’s, who was also a fan of Strawberry Shortcake. This outfit encompassed my entire childhood, especially, if I wore my pair of Hushpuppies shoes with it.
I sucked in my belly and forced to secure the button. When I relaxed, I was a little worried that the button would shoot off like a stray bullet and injure some innocent bystander. But, to my surprise, it stayed put. The pants weren’t just tight around my waist, but in all places. I’m sure I looked liked I was poured into them. But, it didn’t matter. I was on my way.
At school, I was beginning to think this wasn’t the best idea. I was in so much agony sitting in class. I felt like I was in some kind of vice. There was no way to sit comfortably when your pants are so tight you’re your legs won’t bend to fit the chair. After lunch, I couldn’t even begin digesting anything for the lack of blood flow to my stomach. And, then we had specials.
Of course, my luck would have it that we had gym today. Our teachers split up the class for us to play a game. As they were going over the rules, they told us to take a seat. And, that’s when it happened. That’s when I heard the dreaded noise that no one should ever hear. I heard the quick rip of the back of my pants from the bottom up. All the blood rushed to my head as I felt the cold gym floor on my Care Bear undies. My friend sitting next to me asked me what that noise was, and I acted all confused. What noise? I didn’t hear anything…denial, denial, denial.
What did I do? Well, the exact same thing that any respectable 9-year-old would do. I made sure that I stood next to the wall the entire game, and placed myself at the end of the line when going back to the classroom. No one will notice it, right? It seemed to work for about 20 minutes…or so it seemed. That’s when some older boy walked by me and said, (in the most sensitive way that any pre-teen boy could say),
“Hey, I see your crack.”
There’s no way denying it anymore. It’s all out there…literally. When I got back to the classroom, I walked up to my teacher with my hands covering my exposed cheeks and laid out my problem. She was kind, and loving. She knew I had been embarrassed and let me drown in her hug. Plus, she let me borrow a sweatshirt that hung to my knees, to make sure it covered my rear end. I was so happy I reached out and told someone. It was over.
How many times in our lives are we afraid that people are seeing our “cracks?” No, not the cracks in the corduroy, I’m talking about our struggles and vulnerabilities. We hide against the wall, smile as we try to disappear in the background. We spend all this energy trying to conceal a splintered spirit thinking if we put on a brave face no one will see what’s really going on inside of our hearts.
But, when we choose to live that way, we keep people at arm’s length. No one can get close to us because it’s really hard to have relationship with anyone without trust. And, it’s difficult to trust if you won’t let yourself be exposed and allow the light to shine in the dark places. That’s true relationship. Being able to love and be loved full body and soul. Not, just the pretty stuff. The ugly stuff, too.
Jesus died for our ugly pieces. He died for the very things that we try to keep hidden in the shadows. He’s seen it all. Even if we think we are good at burying it, we aren’t that good.
We all need that someone who will come beside us and cover us with love. Who will put their arms around us and comfort us when we are exposed…even let us borrow their sweatshirt.
If you don’t have that person in your life, I encourage you to stop playing the perfection game. No one wins. Allow yourself to be seen….truly seen. Reach out and grab hold of someone who you know will love you no matter what. Step out of the dark. It’s much warmer in the light.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8