Think of your most comfy, go-to-on-bad-days piece of clothing.
You know what I mean…the super soft snuggly sweatshirt with paint stains from when you were fixing up your first house. Or the holey pair of jeans from 1998 that make you think of friends. And watching Friends.
You like to call it “classic”.
For me that piece of clothing is a tad more embarrassing than classic. A little more obviously out of style. It’s a pair of baggy, khaki capri overalls that are just sooooo comfortable. I usually reserve them for wearing at the lake, or on days when I’m not going to see anyone (or at least anyone I know).
But a few Wednesdays ago was a bit of a bad day. I did a six mile run which started off with a bite in the butt by a dog who chased me (I know! How embarrassing is that?!), and ended with me positive I was going to die and will never be able to finish this race or get water to thirsty kids in Zambia. Total fail.
So I took a shower and put on my baggy Khaki overall capris. The only other thing I had the rest of the day where I would see people I knew was a missions meeting at the home of my friends, Mike and Megan. I debated changing, but I thought, “No, it’s safe. Although they always look totally hip and cool and pulled together even in their exercise clothes, I think they’re ok with my come-as-I-am self. Not my fancy-pants, polished, achieving clean water with a half-marathon, trying-to-be-good-self.
Even so, it was a little (understatement!) disconcerting when I showed up and my friends (who happen to be the creators and owners of the amazing chain of Hot Mama stores) were doing a freaking PHOTO SHOOT! You know, with perfect people in perfect clothes.
Megan greeted me warmly with a hug and a laugh, totally welcoming and seemingly oblivious to my “vintage” (ahem) look.
All this made me think about our true self and false self. My false self is my “photo shoot” self.
Ruth Haley Barton writes about this false self. Basically she says, we each have an ego-driven self that is bent on control and image management. An empty self that is hungry to fill itself with the approval of others. When we’re still before God we become aware of a broken self, desperately seeking to preserve the illusion that we have it all together.
My true self is my baggy overalls self. It’s imperfect. It’s in process. But it’s beloved by God apart from appearance or accomplishment or titles.
We are beloved in our rattiest clothing, without pretense or accomplishment. When we live into our belovedness – our true identity, we are able to extend this delightful acceptance to others.
Community is about loving each other’s true self – never good enough, always in process. I’m thankful for a photo shoot and friends who reminded me of that.
May you have a comfy baggy overall living into your true self Monday!