The other night, I was Skyping with my girlfriend. It was late and we were both tired, but we love chatting with each other — we live multiple states away and our talks are never often enough — and we were so excited about our upcoming time together that we had to plan.
So, the conversation was just going along when she stopped the conversation… “You know what? I just gotta…” …and she reached up and pulled off her hair — her perfectly highlighted, perfectly curled, perfectly sassy bob — to reveal short, straight hair that immediately shot out and pointed in every direction. I was speechless; which is practically impossible. It was, after all, quite the drastic and immediate change.
Now, I was not surprised that she was wearing a wig. I know she has many wigs. She’s a super chic, black chick, hair stylist/singer; of course she has wigs! But this was an openness you only see in emotionally down moments in movies; not in real life! Only this wasn’t down. This was liberation.
“There! That feels so much better,” she said with this audible sigh as she gave her scalp some good deep scratches. “I just gotta let it all out.”
The conversation moved on and we never revisited the hair, but two weeks after this conversation, I’m still thinking about it!
First, I’m wondering why I was so shaken by the transformation.
Was it because I was honored by her personal liberty in my presence? After all, I pride myself on being a “real” person. I’m honest about my warts and moles and jelly rolls and cellulite and unhappy infant stages and hard spots in marriage and difficult relationships…
Or did I feel relief? Like, “oh thank God she’s not that perfect!”
Or was it because I was merely shocked at the transformation? It was a stark difference.
Or was I totally caught off guard that someone was actually being real? I mean, no matter how real you are, it seems like pulling teeth to get the folks around you do drop the facade for two seconds to admit their own humanity some times!
I think it was a combination.
But then, it got me thinking about how we are as women; as mothers.
You hear it a lot: “Men dress to impress women. Women dress to impress each other.”
Another one: “Men put each other down and don’t mean it. Women compliment each other and don’t mean it.”
We ladies compete. We compete hard.
And we judge each other. …even harder!
But how much of all that stuff is contoured makeup and concealer and colored contacts and platform high heels and Spanx … and wigs? And how much of that stuff is actually us? How much of that stuff do we say and do for the approval of others instead of love of our Lord, love of ourselves? How much of my motivation is opinions/approval of others and how much of my motivation is passion for Christ?
There’s so much of myself I hide.
And I’m “real”!!
And yet, I’m keenly aware of where I think I fall short. I wear clothes that accentuate what I believe are the best parts of me and detract from what I think are the worst. I dress my kids like little grown ups and take pride in how gorgeous they are and pray they don’t misbehave when we’re in public. I even make “suggestions” to my husband about what he should wear, fix his hair, talk to people…
I put my best professional foot forward. I learn from every experience, but I’m sure to not tell a future client about my bad performances/experiences. (NOT a bad thing! Just a musing.)
But, at what point do I stop trying to sell my best version of myself and say to the world, “here I am; flaws and all” and be OK with it?
I’m not suggesting we, as women, stop wearing makeup and high heels and great fashion … and wigs. (Um… NEVER!) I’m suggesting that we allow ourselves to take the time to look in the mirror at the most exposed versions of ourselves and be OK with it. Stand in front of the mirror naked if you have to! I’m suggesting that we allow other women — anyone — to see us for who we truly are. I’m suggesting that there’s liberty in truth and that truth and reality and are two different things. I’m suggesting there’s honor in recognizing that another woman’s chosen methods of mothering are hers and they likely won’t work for you and your home, but that doesn’t make you right and her wrong — or vice versa. And that applies to her style and her life choices too.
Side note: I’m not applying the phrase “life choices” to choices to sin. Calm down. 😉
So here’s my pledge:
(A.K.A. my conclusions from all that rambling…)
• I’m going to work harder to embrace women for who they truly are instead of judging them against how I would have maneuvered that particular obstacle course.
• I will offer even more godly encouragement to every woman with whom I interact.
• I will remember that there’s no woman on earth who has my destiny, so there’s no part of my life they can take, and no part of their lives I can take … and I will stop trying to protect/defend myself from nothing and equally stop trying to compare myself and my life with other lives of which I only know the tiny corner that I see.
• I will judge people less and love people more.
• I will continue to pursue Christ as my Bridegroom and forever work to expand my understanding and application of the gracious Work of the Cross in my life … and offer that same Grace to every person with whom I interact.
Who’s with me?