I sat next to a lady the other day. She’s probably a few years younger than me, but she has skin. She is like an olive. Silky, tanned skin, and although I spent most of my time discreetly looking for them, she did not have a blemish, freckle, pimple or mark on her legs or her arms. How is this right? I have to spend my time here on earth covering up limbs because, frankly, they are pretty horrifying, whilst she swans through life in her unblemished earthly vessel until she gets to heaven?! And what’s more, she cooks! And she LIKES to cook. So she has like a triple blessing. Skin, can cook, likes to cook. I can sort of cook ‘cos I have to, but I don’t LIKE to cook. My meal plans consist of the same 10 meals going round and round on repeat. Chicken curry AGAIN? Really? My poor family. And I have no skin- I don’t know what I have, but I’m pretty sure it’s not in the same class as ‘skin.’ I’m like the ‘speckled and spotted’ goats and sheep in Laban’s flocks in Genesis; when I bruise, it’s like Aurora Borealis viewings for the next two weeks, and my bodily hair covering has me wondering if I’m supposed to use carpet cleaner instead of soap.
So I see people like her and I whine inside, It’s not fair. Why do I have to deal with having such bad skin, and she doesn’t? God, that really doesn’t seem fair to me. And of course, right here is a generic “fill-in-the-blank” for the things we all struggle with: I’m not smart, I’m too short, my hair is too thick/thin/straight/curly, my sense of direction is terrible, etc. But I am learning (hooray) that some things are simply out of my control. Yes, it’s partially genetic- but this is also to blame: in my school days in Zimbabwean summer, lessons were in the morning, then from 1-2pm I did springboard diving (full sun), 2-3pm team swimming (full sun), 3-4pm thawed out from swimming (in the warm sun), ate lunch, did homework, and 4-5pm played tennis (full sun). No sunscreen because we didn’t even really know about cancer then. DUH. No wonder I am like I am. My fair skin is not good in the sun anyway, and it’s sure letting me know about it now. When we first arrived in Cape Town, I went to a GP for a checkup, and her speciality was dermatology. She looked at me and saw her ticket to her next cruise ship vacation- I can sort these out with a treatment, and ooohh, these need another appointment. And on Wednesdays, the liquid nitrogen is delivered to my rooms, so you can pop in then so we can burn these off! I never went back, and I don’t go near that shopping centre on a Wednesday. Funny story- I researched that treatment with essential oils is really effective for skin cancer spots, as I had a really bad one on my back that was a concern. So I phoned around to all the health shops for the oils. And I had to ask, Hi, do you have any myrrh and frankincense, please? I fully expected them to ask if I wanted them to throw in Baby Jesus with the deal, but they were all very professional. They probably just thought it was some schoolmom taking the nativity play this year a little too far. So I am treating it with the oils, and wait and see. It doesn’t help that I married a man with skin like a two-year old’s. Seriously.
Ethan came home from school the other day and almost in disgust, he told me that one of the older teachers had WORN A SKIRT TO SCHOOL! And her legs were all wrinkly and…I’m sure the child almost shuddered. And Luke, in passing conversation in the car the other day, said, I wish I had hair like “……” (name withheld to protect the innocent), and I realised then- I gotta get over this NOW and get into my kids’ heads, so that they are not judging people by outward appearance, OR judging themselves and their own worth or goodness by their own outward appearance. Oh my word, this is serious! I did instruct Ethan at the time, and told him that what he was thinking about the teacher was actually unkind. I also told him that I, in fact, had awful legs (thereby also preparing the poor olive-skinned child for his mother in a swimsuit on the beach in December), but that it wasn’t something I could change, and that we should never be judging people by their outward appearance.
And I told Luke that the way his hair is, is the way his hair is, and that his heart is what’s more important. It’s inherent, though, right? It’s rife. And on the other hand, our kids marvel at the athletes who excel in their school, or the students who get top marks in class. But my kids don’t see them at 5am every morning when they go for an hour’s run, or when they train so hard that they throw up. Those students spend their weeks studying, making notes and putting in the hard work to get those results! Ugh, how fickle we’ve become. We have NO IDEA of the story behind each person. We’ve got to work on our hearts, and our kids’ hearts.
I read a devotional for parents which addresses the way we encourage our kids. It’s important to focus on encouraging the things they are in control of- a good attitude, honesty, an effort put in, perseverance or kindness in a relationship, etc; rather than, you’re so good looking, you’re so smart, you’re so tall, etc. Those are things they have no power over. You’re trying to pinpoint the variables that are within their control, so that they realise the fruit of hard work- if they put in the time and effort, they can get better!
People often tell me I have a nice figure, and I say it’s in my genes. Which it is, but I do actually have some control here, specifically how much overhang of a muffin top I have. When I can feel it wobbling when the car engine is idling, I know I have to cut down on the chocolate digestives with each cup of tea and do more cardio. Sigh. I cannot make my legs nice (sobbing inside). I CAN work out (deadlifts, I hate you) to keep them from becoming too scrawny, or I can do cardio exercise (think death by skipping rope) to improve circulation to help the spidery bright purple varicose veins that began signalling their arrival in my thirties. They would look good in an abstract art gallery, but not on my legs.
For ourselves, we cannot change what we cannot change. And we cannot change the short-sighted conclusions that others jump to when they see us. See us, not know us. So here’s to all the spotted and speckled sheep and goats- whatever that may mean in your context- we are fearfully (as in awe…not eyeww) and wonderfully made, by a Creator that loves us and has a purpose for us, if we could just get over our physical imperfections, beyond skin deep, to the depth and heart of all that he has made us to be. Gifted, full of destiny.
May the lessons learned in the quiet or the chaos lead you closer to Him.
Lots of love,
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between (olive skinned or freckled) Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:22