(I cannot find a not-ugly bathing suit. I don't think it's me, guys. I really don't.)
I am a chronic people-watcher, especially when I'm not having to keep my eyes on two little boys.
When I pass someone, I usually make eye contact and give a smile or Hi.
I passed a girl, smiled, was given the once-over.
Passed others, smiled, received some smiles in return.
Then there was this girl who has stuck in my head.
She was probably about 16. She wobbled unsurely and a little awkwardly on high heels that didn't quite match the atmosphere of the mall. She glanced down at her chest, tugging her shirt down self-consciously, then smoothing it out over her stomach. She glanced quickly around, probably wondering if anybody was watching.
Probably simultaneously hoping someone was and terrified of it too.
In that moment she personified for me what cripples us as girls, women, tweens, teens.
I can't tell you how many women events I've been at and how many women I've noticed standing alone. Looking out, wondering if anybody notices them. While others stand about, perhaps in a group, but also wondering if anybody notices them. Their hands quickly smooth their shirt out, suck their stomach in, pull their skirt down or pants up, fluff hair, check make-up. Everything communicating me. Am I being noticed? Am I important? Am I pretty? Are others impressed by me?
All the while missing the life that's being lived right around them.
All the while overlooking that girl that stands alone because she doesn't know anybody else and is terrified this will be just one more instance where she's on the outside looking in, hoping somebody picks her to be on their team.
Missing that woman who just lost her husband and is wearing a brave, but fake, smile.
Missing that woman whose husband just left her, whose kid just moved out of state, whose parent just died.
Because I feel uncomfortable in the outfit I picked out or the zit that popped up or the bad haircut I just got.
Women, ladies, friends, we need to make up our mind before we ever get to that place, especially church, that it is not about me. It is not about the way I look or feel or talk.
I have a lot of weaknesses (a lot) but self-consciousness is not usually one. Not because there's anything spectacular in me but because I often pray before I ever get to that event, whatever it is, Lord, please fill me with your Spirit. Please use me as a blessing in someone else's life today. Please give me your eyes to see people through, and your heart to love people like you do.
Jesus will absolutely open our eyes to the life and the needs that are so close we could reach out and hug them. Jesus wants to use us to speak that encouraging word for someone who's dying to hear she's valuable and worth his life dying for. He wants to use us to give that hug to the one who's had the worst day in a long time, to simply be his hands and feet.
Let's start seeing others through Jesus' eyes and loving like he does. The same Jesus who stopped what he was doing and halted where he was going and healed the blind beggar that the disciples were trying to shush because he was interrupting their agenda. The agenda that didn't include uncomfortable situations and dirty people. (See Mark 10.)
Your uncomfortable interruption (and mine too) may very well be exactly the thing God wants you to do today in His Name and for His glory.
"Our churches are filled with people who outwardly look contented and at peace but inwardly are crying out for someone to love them...just as they are - confused, frustrated, often frightened, guilty, and often unable to communicate even within their own families. But the other people in the church look so happy and contented that one seldom has the courage to admit his own deep needs before such a self-sufficient group as the average church meeting appears to be."
Keith Miller, The Taste of New Wine