P.O. Box 824 | Millers Creek, NC 28651 l (336) 262-8269
One of my sweet, generous friends presented me with an unexpected gift this past Christmas. After opening the beautifully wrapped box from a very chic boutique store I’d seen advertised on TV (but had never shopped in), I pulled out a unique, very hip (is that word still used?) jacket. The jacket fit perfectly, and I really liked the unusualness of it, although I did wonder about the practicality of wearing it as business attire to the office. Unfortunately, I have to admit the jacket didn’t like me. When I tried it on, it looked great from the front and back. However, the view from the side was less than flattering. I can’t afford to add poundage through the clothes I wear, and I felt that the jacket made me look even frumpier than I already am.
I debated for several weeks what to do about the jacket. I didn’t want to offend my friend by not keeping it, so one Sunday morning I got up with the intent of wearing the jacket to church. But when I put the jacket on and took another view of it from the side, I couldn’t bring myself to wear it, and decided right then that I wouldn’t keep the jacket. I rationalized that my friend would be more offended if she never saw me wear it, than to admit that it just didn’t work for me. What I haven’t mentioned yet is this was her second attempt to give me a Christmas present. Her first gift was an elegant jacket that was truly exquisite from the same boutique, and I was heartbroken when it was a size too small. This time, however, I decided to attempt to return the second jacket myself so that I didn’t put my friend on the spot of having to guess whether or not something fit me.
This chic boutique is nearly an hour’s drive from my home, so the next Saturday I had available, I packed up the jacket and crossed my fingers that the boutique would let me exchange it without a receipt. Fortunately for me, this store keeps track of all purchases made by its regular customers, of which my friend turned out to be, so with the amount of the store credit established, I browsed through the store looking for a replacement. After finding about four or five pieces of clothing to try on, I let the sales clerk know I was ready to try on clothes.
Inside the first dressing room into which she escorted me, I noticed it was minus a mirror. When I mentioned that little detail to the sales clerk, she said she could either move a mirror stand into the room, or she could place me in a dressing room that had a full wall mirror just outside the room. To save her trouble, I chose the latter, and she escorted me to another dressing room. At first I was really puzzled by this. Why would they make their customers leave a dressing room to see how the clothes they were trying on looked? After all, isn’t that a dressing room’s primary purpose?
As I tried on each piece of clothing, sure enough, I had to leave the dressing room to view myself in the store’s wall-sized mirror. I’d rather view myself in the privacy of a dressing room, but I had made that choice. But, I really wished for that privacy when I began noticing the woman in the dressing room next to mine eyeing me each time I modeled my clothing selections. She was able to do that because during the entire time I was trying on clothes, she stood outside her dressing room in a conversation with her sales assistant.
That’s when I had my “light bulb” moment. Observing the woman next to me, as well as the interaction between other sales women and their customers, I realized why the owners had purposely omitted mirrors from the dressing rooms. They wanted the customers to have to exit the dressing rooms so that the sales women had the opportunity to see them in the clothing they were trying on. In this way, they could compliment customers on how wonderful they looked, which I’m sure increased their sales. Fortunately for me, my purpose of being in that store didn’t warrant a hovering sales assistant, so I was able to go in and out of my dressing room without being “schmoozed.”
Anyway, each time I exited my dressing room to check out the clothing in the mirror, I could tell I was being watched by my neighbor. She was somewhat subtle about it, but not so much that I didn’t know what she was doing. Was she thinking I didn’t fit the clientele profile? Or, was she just a nosy person?
The first couple of items I tried on were okay, but nothing to be excited about. When I tried on the next to last blouse I had taken in to try on, I knew I had a winner. It was also a few dollars under the amount of the credit, so I was pleased that I had found something that I really liked, rather than something for which I’d have to settle.
Even though I was fairly sure I had found “the one,” I decided to go ahead and try on the last blouse I had brought into the dressing room. After slipping it on over my head, the blouse felt a little snug, but being the visual person that I am, I wanted to see how it looked on me. So, of course, I had to exit my dressing room to be able to do that. Once again, I noticed my neighbor watching me. No surprise there. But what was a surprise was hearing her say “That’s too small.” I was totally dumbfounded that she had the gall to make that comment to me. After all, we had not even acknowledged each other before then, let alone speak to each other. The first words out of my mouth were something like, “I had already figured that out without your input.” But even as I said the words, she had already returned to her conversation with her sales assistant, and I really don’t believe she heard me.
I was still shaking my head in disbelief as I completed my return transaction. I even debated going back to the dressing room area and telling the woman that her actions had been extremely rude, but I really didn’t want to open the door for a verbal situation to occur. I summed it up by mentally calling her a snob, and I left satisfied with that assessment.
Even while I continued shopping in some nearby stores, and during my drive home, my mind mulled over the woman’s words, and I kept coming back to the word “snob.” Yep, that’s what she was. Then suddenly out of nowhere, my mind asked the question, “Who’s the snob here?”
You see, I generally dress down on Saturdays. I would normally have had on jeans, a tee or sweat shirt and my tennis shoes. However, because I knew I was going to an upscale boutique, I dressed much nicer than I usually would have on a Saturday. So that’s why I asked myself the question, “Who’s the snob?” I had anticipated the atmosphere and clientele of the boutique before leaving home, so I had dressed accordingly to fit in. Therefore, I had started wearing the hat of a snob before I had even left home.
My first thought after that realization was, “I sure am glad God looks on the heart, and doesn’t judge us on our outward appearance” (1 Samuel 16:7). Granted, I had allowed myself to have a lapse of what was really important that morning. I had put more emphasis on being accepted by women I didn’t know and would probably never see again, than caring about what God thought of me. I wasn’t being genuine and true to myself.
So what if I’d gone into the store looking like a slob, or like I didn’t belong? What I wore or didn’t wear was of no eternal value. What was important was if my heart was clothed in holiness, purity and love. And, my less than loving reaction to my dressing-room neighbor pretty much revealed what my heart was lacking that morning. I could have found a way to have been a testimony for my Lord, yet I walked out of the store thinking I was a better person than “the snob.”
This is why I’m always emphasizing to others, and to myself, that God’s will is a lifestyle, and the need to be filled, or controlled, by the Holy Spirit. Being an authentic Christian is not about attending church on Sunday and a mid-week Bible study, wearing my best finery, or carrying the right Bible. It’s about representing and reflecting the love of Jesus Christ with every step I take, and with every word I speak. That’s why Paul exhorted us to “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6). Godliness and being controlled by the Holy Spirit is always about being in the moment, not realizing an hour later how I should have acted or what I should have said differently.