She slides oh so quiet into the seat and her stack of books and bent papers and chewed pencils slide oh so quiet onto the table. A serious girl of olive skin face and brown hair plain, with killer wide eyes that will drop some boy’s heart to his knees someday.
She smile twitches.
She likes me but she is a teenager now so she doesn’t hug me like she did when she hall skipped to her kindergarten room.
She is forgetting the ease of modest affection.
She is learning the art of hesitation.
Her voice is low and husky and teachers are always asking her to speak up. To really hear what she has to say one must lean into her space.
To really see her one must want to see. And wanting is a percolating business. It takes time.
It’s easy to miss seeing people and all their color.
Like when I miss the sunset as everything goes awe quiet because of the creation brilliance and I’m acting all ordinary and busy.
Suddenly she speaks. A whisper rasp.
I lean in.
“I don’t like it when people do that, either.” I pencil tap on my palm.
Her lips twitch a smile a second time, then go thin.
“I know people are talking about me. I’m not going to tell you who but…” her eyes do a quick scan around the classroom and she keeps them from lingering on any one person. She looks at me again.
“I went to Label Shopper with my mom the other day and we were able to get a whole bunch of nice things…so…yeah. We can’t afford Abercrombie and Aeropostle, you know, places like the Gap.”
I know about girls being all sixteen and then it being my turn and me giggle opening a gift to find nestled in the white flurry of tissue paper a pair of yellow lace panties all perfect and grown up and… expensive.
I know how they felt perfect and now I was perfect and for one day out of seven I wasn’t wearing underwear from The Fair. Everything else I had on could be cast-off, thrift-stored and hand-me-downed, but for one day I was all lace and good stitching next my skin and worth something.
The Fair Department Store was a precursor to the discount box store complete with hard-edged lighting and broken-wheeled carts and anyone shopping there probably lived in the ghetto and got their food from a government issued can.
Or so said the girl the day she handed me her gift containing yellow and lace.
Which is why not one friend ever saw my closet or my cupboards.
I was clothed in poor quality and fed from a box hand-out.
Ahh, the pride and prejudice of my own heart.
The ugly sin of comparison tries to take up residence in this once teenage girl’s heart all because she listened to the voice that whispered:
“You got nothin’ so you are nothin. ‘”
I find out some time later Jesus, who comes with all of heaven wrapped up in Himself, comes bearing clothes.
Clothes that make me whole.
Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great, You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering Yourself with light as a cloak.
Oh, the lovely clothes God brings:
Animal skinned clothes in a Garden.
A coat of many colors in a desert.
Priest clothes saturated in perfume.
Swaddling clothes manger dusted.
One hem- of -garment cloak fisted in a desperate yank.
Tomb cloak-shroud folded and finished.
We are Lucy in the Wardrobe.
The White Witch sees us in the fur coats we’ve been provided and then she sees our friendship with the Lion.
She sees and seethes fury.
Fury that we will understand that it is not what we wear, but Who we wear.
For all of you who were baptized into Christ Jesus have clothed yourself with Christ.
I know that I am not alone in this.
Girls becoming women, especially, continue to battle the old fight of unworthiness based on the outside of things.
Girls counting how many likes they receive on their Facebook page after they’ve posted the next model-esque photo of themselves and, oh, what a can of bubblestuff this can be.
Girls checking labels.
Girls bragging sizes. Girls denying sizes.
Pop pop pop.
Vanity and comparison….bubbles of nothin’.
An all too skinny, crooked toothed, stringy haired, prominent nosed, funnel chested me knows.
I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with garland, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels.
I lean into the girl with the olive skin face and the brown hair just plain.
I look into those killer wide eyes. I whisper choke.
“You know what? I think you always look nice.” Besides,” and I point to my heart place, “it’s what’s in here that makes the girl.”
She smiles open, perfect teeth flashing for a second. She leans into me.
“I think you look nice, too, Mrs. McKellick.”
We are seeing our color.