Andrea O Smith
God Met Me in a Stairwell
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4
My children, on a regular basis, ask me what super power I would want to possess. It's always the same answer, but they ask just in case. It would be for the ability to let others see what their friends and family see in them and how God designed them. Many of my friends struggle with self-worth. They often sell themselves short and do not appreciate in themselves what those around them deeply value. My super power would be to touch someone on their shoulders or head and have that individual see how truly treasured they are.
I recently attended a Christian Communicator's Conference in Fort Worth, TX. The days were packed full of worship, workshops and wonderful women. At the end of the week, we were to have a Red Carpet graduation. We were encouraged to wear cocktail attire or something that made us feel fancy. As excited as I was for the opportunity to dress up, I didn't necessarily have anything that fit my, ahem, fluffier than normal body type. In the moments leading up to the conference, I shoved a black, thrift store skirt ($5), a black hand-me-down blouse (free - my favorite four-letter "f" word) and a pair of high heels ($8) purchased from a consignment store. It was a $13 outfit and I wasn't even sure it would fit, but it would have to suffice.
I got through the week, albeit a little frazzled. It was hard enough being away from my family, but the lack of sleep, my poor babysitter telling me she had Covid and couldn't watch our kids the days Tommy was to fly down to TX for work and the major lack of confidence during the exercises in the workshops really took the wind out of my sails. I was exhilarated to be able to let loose at the Red Carpet graduation.
That afternoon, I opened my suitcase and stared at the outfit that I wasn't sure would fit. I was almost afraid to try it on in fear that I would have "nothing to wear to the Ball." I was feeling for Cinderella just then. I slid on the blouse, wrapped the skirt and was able to button everything without having to suck it in. Success!!! Then I donned my sparkly jewelry and realized I had to style my hair. MY HAIR! I had totally forgot about my hair. Since I let it turn gray and have started growing it out, I hadn't had to do anything fancy with it yet. I panicked and started searching YouTube and Instagram videos, but all were going to take too long. I recalled a young lady doing a pull-through ponytail and pinning the ends in a bun. It was going to be a long shot that I could accomplish this with any sort of skill, but I was fit to try. As I did that pull-through ponytail, it got stuck...perfectly. It was a very happy accident. Bob Ross would be proud! I surmised that if I only hugged from a certain side the hair should stay in place.
I walked out into the larger area of my hotel room to check any last minute changes in the full length mirror. Wow! It had been a long time since I had seen myself really put together. I thanked God for having it all work out despite my lack of preparation. Once out in the foyer, I was surrounded by beautiful women in gorgeous gowns, sun dresses, cocktail dresses and sparkly pantsuits. One of the attendees had to wear sneakers due to a leg brace and she had bedazzled her sneakers. It was so cool! The lighting was magnificent, so I started taking photos of these beauties who had taken the time to get gussied up. We were laughing and enjoying the levity of the moment after we had worked so hard in the previous days.
A stunning white staircase graced the center of the rotunda and was beautifully front-lit from the natural light of the Texas sun. A group of gals gathered there for a photo op. Once everyone was clear, I sheepishly asked if one of the women could be bothered to take a picture of me since I, for the first time in a very long time, felt pretty. It seemed like a moment to be documented. She politely obliged as I handed her my phone. When she showed me the photo, I teared up. No, it wasn't because I was disappointed that I am a couple of sizes bigger than I want to be. It wasn't because I hated my nose or ginormous forehead. I have absolutely cried about those things before, but not this evening. Tonight, I saw God's child. I saw a woman who was taking one small, obedient step at a time toward what God had designed her to do. The woman before me was free of self-loathing. She was healed. She was radiant. It was me. A few years ago, I wouldn't dare dream of thinking that "highly" of myself. I didn't know how to be proud of myself without also adding on heaps of self-deprecating, character assassinating, body shaming thoughts. And yet there she stood. It was refreshing to experience pride in a job well-done and be able to see the individual that God created without trashing His work. God gave me the super power I wanted for others to use on myself in that moment. What a blessing!!
We often think to reach out for God in large, devastating events. We might even praise Him in the grand gestures of prayers answered in the direction we were hoping. Sometimes we forget that He is omnipresent. He is in the sky, in the forests, in schools, churches and homes. He also takes up space in the nooks and crannies of our hearts. He loves to lavish His affection on us in sunsets and $13 outfits.
Lord, Help us to see you in every space this week. Help us to catch ourselves when we're trashing what you have expertly curated. Thank you for loving us so well that you show up in the most unexpected places and unexpected times. Give us eyes to see you in every moment. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.