I Cheated, I’m a Cheater

I’m so sorry God, I am a cheater.

I committed myself to 40 days. 40 days of all black, no makeup and curly hair.

But then I had an event…

ImageAt first it was a simple thing, a navy dress.

Then brown boots, all within the realm of reason, right?

I pulled my hair back, but it didn’t quite look right.

I put on tinted moisturizer… (and it felt good)

Then came the lipstick and mascara. (and it felt really good)

The smell of makeup, the feel of the brushes, next came blush.

I tried to stop myself, I really did.

But then the hairdryer got pulled out. “Just to smooth it a little” I rationalized…

But it just felt so good to “fit in” again. To play the game of beauty and what is attractive to the world. I know you could care less, that Lent is not about my stupid practice, that you really don’t need to hear my confession, that I’m only trying to make myself feel better. But it matters to me, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and for 40 days set aside the world that tells me otherwise and live into that promise. So I’m sorry God, today I am back in black, no makeup, curly hair and all. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am. Thanks be to God.

True Colors

Sometimes when my kids are really tired I can sneak in a song that I like to sing while putting them to bed.  We do the basics, the nursery rhymes and whatnot, but sometimes I will throw in a little something for myself.  One of my go-to songs is Cindi Lauper’s “True Colors” (yes, I know Rod Stewart sang it also, but I choose to ignore his version). 

Over this Lenten season I gave up color in my wardrobe and wore all black, and yes, on Easter morning when I stopped the practice I felt like this…

ImageYes, it felt like I was seeing color for the first time.  I was at least seeing myself in color for the first time. Those six weeks felt very long, and I was fine, absolutely no complaints the first three weeks, and then I admit it was tough.  

But in the last 4 or so days here’s what I have learned/discovered.

1) hair dryers make a lot of noise. Seriously, I kind of liked getting up and out of the shower and what my hair did, it did. Now I dry my bangs and the top/front of my hair- no I do not dry the bottom or the back (seriously, who has time for that?).  And the hair dryer is REALLY loud! So loud I think I might cut all my hair off…

2) I don’t actually like make-up. I wear makeup on Sundays and it never quite looks right.  Maybe I don’t know how to properly put it on or something, but the line between plain Jane and Vegas showgirl is finer than people realize, at least it is for me. The exception to this is tinted moisturizer, I like the redness out of my skin.

3) I like my jewelry. I really do. I particularly missed my wedding ring (I wore a simple band). But I really missed my earrings, however every time I look at myself I feel like ALL I can see is the jewelery.

4) My clothes are pretty plain. Ask me to give up patterns for Lent and it would not have been a chore. Seriously, I have greys and browns and creams, all solids.  But that is actually kind of okay. 

So what did I learn? Well I’m still learning. 

This was an experiment in creativity, where would my creative outlet go to if I didn’t have it through clothing, etc. But as usual, it was about so much more, it was really a quest in self-worth.  It was a time of self discovery and I admit, I miss it a little.  I liked the simplicity.

1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV) says “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

This is a constant struggle in our culture, in my life of career and self importance, and ego. (BTW- don’t read too much farther in this passage, it leads to arguable places, but this part is good). I am enough as I have learned through this process, but living into that will be a lifelong journey.  But my worth will not come from clothes, hair, jewelery, or make-up. Ever.

Moving into Darkness

So saying “I’m not giving up something for Lent, I’m taking something on” kind of drives me crazy.  But saying “Jesus gave his life for me so I will give up chocolate” equally drives me crazy.  So during the season on Lent what are we to do?

For years my husband and I have been in the practice of giving things up for Lent.  One year we went vegetarian, another year we gave up a car (went down to 1). 

Who ever said that giving something up was not taking something on also? When we gave up a car we were forced to communicate in a new way.  We could no longer be passive about each others daily lives, we not had a vested interest.  Where are you going today, how long will you need it.  At the time we lived next door to the church I was working at so I had to check with him before I planned meetings away from church, or I had to organize a ride for myself.  It was a great discipline.

This year I have given up fashion.  Well, in a sense.  For the season of Lent I will be wearing all black, no makeup and no jewelry except for a simple wedding band.  The idea for me is that I express myself through my clothing and my jewelry, what if I no longer had that artistic expression?  What if I had to express my creativity in other ways? What ways would those be?

It is a challenge in expression.  I am excited to see what happens.

However, four days in I feel myself moving into the darkness of the clothing I wear.  But a good Lenten practice is a journey, and as much as i am fighting the black, I am curious to see where it leads me.

God of Light, you walked a dark path which we mark by this season, be present with me- So that when you rise, I may rise to new life with you.