Thursday, April 29, 2010

Alligators

Today I was talking with a good friend. We laugh a great deal together and enjoy each other’s company. Our families do life together.

Our discussion was about being absorbed with the acquirement and possession of material things. Especially name-brand stuff (I use this word on purpose). We are about the same age and exchanged stories about being in high school when Izod and Nike tennis shoes were the status symbols.

Now, ahead of time as a precaution, I want everyone to understand I don’t have a bit of problem with brand-name anything. And I don’t have a problem with anyone who wears or uses such. But sometimes the name-bearing goes a little over-board.

At my high school, you were not anybody until you had an Izod polo and a pair of white Nike tennis shoes with blue swooshes. Anyone remember this? My two best friends got them long before I did, however, when I finally got the tennis shoes the swoosh was the wrong color. My swoosh was red—calamities of calamities.

My friend told me that their family couldn’t afford an Izod shirt. One day their mother found a pair of Izod socks on sale. They bought the socks, removed the icon and sewed it onto a regular polo. My friend had an alligator and no one ever knew the difference.

White-washed tombs.

Beautiful on the outside, white, spit-shined. The Pharisees wore their status symbols long and wide. And no one asked to see the tags inside.

Jesus didn’t ask. He just simply knew. He knew what was in their hearts. He knew what was behind the blinding white exteriors. Jesus knew the alligators were transplants.

Our minister often exhorts us to be real. Beth Moore in her Psalms of Ascent study (Session 2) talks about posing. Christians are not supposed to be posers. We are called to be real. Being real means we don’t try to hide the ugly and pretend it doesn’t exist. We don’t try to pose as something we are not.

We are called to be authentic.

When I met Steve, my neighbor next door and now my husband, I gave him a very long list of the ugly in me. The reason? It was two-fold. I thought the list would scare him away and I wanted to be honest. I was so done with hiding, covering-up and pretending.

I had had enough.

I decided to open the doors wide and expose the broken walls, the cracked tile, the faulty wiring and the peeling paint of this house of mine. I was very tired of pretense. I was weary of trying to be something I was not. I was frustrated with sewing alligators on my shirts.

This is one of the reasons for my last blog entry Ten Miles and Baggage. Relationships are places we often try to white-wash and sew on alligators.

I am trying to live an honest, authentic life. In reality, sometimes posing is so much easier. I know how to pose. I know the right angles to position myself to accentuate my best side. I learned at a very young age how to throw a little white-wash on the outside walls. I learned how to shine the exterior and how to be a good seamstress.

But let me tell you, if no one else has—

Eventually someone will walk through the door.

At some point someone will look at the tag.

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