Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My plain T-shirt

I remember owning a T-shirt in elementary school that was plain. It didn't say anything on it. It was just a peach colored T-shirt to be worn with shorts on a warm California afternoon. The shirt didn't have a picture of anything on it either. No animals or rainbows, just a light orange shirt with short sleeves. I kinda despised that T-shirt for it's lack of character. I was living in the 70's when there were hip shirts that said "I'm with Stupid" or "Hang Ten" or a picture of a couple walking on the beach at sunset and yet, my shirt was plain.
I still remember trying to improve the status of my T-shirt one morning before I headed out the door to face my 4th-grade classmates. By using light blue ribbon and sewing pins to make a design I would have a shirt that said something about who I was. Now, to make a design with a couple inches of ribbon and a few sewing pins takes a great deal of talent, and unfortunately, at age 10, I lacked that as well. The best design I could come up with was a "tic-tac-toe". I laid the 4 pieces of ribbon on the front of my T-shirt and then I pinned the edges with the little pins. I had no O's and no X's, I only had the graph.
I actually managed to walk to school and get to my desk without any damage to the "tic-tac-toe", but at some point in the morning--before I even made it out the door to recess the pins were jabbing into me. I kept trying to make the pins work and no matter how much I maneuvered them, they would either scratch my arms or jab into my torso. The whole thing was only complicated by the fact that we were also working on our multiplication tables and I still needed to use my fingers to do those. It was quite distracting and to this day I have to stop and think about the answer to 7 times 8. Finally, my dear teacher, Mr. Knight, asked me if I would like to keep my pins and my ribbon on his desk until the end of the day.
Once again, I was plain.

Now, here is the thing. I don't like to be plain. There isn't a woman I know who would consider it a compliment to be called "plain". I want to be clever. I want to be smart. I want to be funny, intelligent, stunning. I want to be amazing. But, being plain is not something I yearn for.

Now that I have lived through the 70's, the 80's AND the 90's, I recognize that fashions come and go. I have had a T-shirts with the images of all 3 of the original Charlie's Angels, I have cut up T-shirts in "Flashdance" style and I have had T-shirts that I bedazzled and splattered with puffy paint. Through the years I learned that "less is more" and that most likely, my peach colored T-shirt was more than adequate for a 10-year-old girl (and probably in better taste than a shirt that said "Go Climb a Rock"). But, the feeling of not being good enough is the driving factor behind the moment I lived in. The feeling of inadequacy is what carved the memory into my silly little brain.

Even at 10-years-old I wanted to be more than I was. What I was didn't feel like it was enough. I wanted to be more, to do more, to say more. I wanted to have a voice and use that voice. I wanted to make a statement, and as a child I wanted to make it so badly, I didn't care what it was. I wanted to say something, even if it was someone else's statement.

And I wonder, as I sit here, in my plain white T-shirt, am I still doing the same thing? Am I so eager to matter that I am willing to have someone else's voice? Do I want to exist beyond myself so badly that I will grab an earthly wisdom and make it my own? I want to say that I have outgrown the need for the approval of man. But, when I look at my own thoughts over the last several months I see a person who can still be led down a path that is wide. I see a person who can be influenced by who she makes the most important person in her life. I can fall victim to the wisdom that the world offers and I can begin to believe things that are contrary to the wisdom that comes from the Father of Heavenly lights.

It is so important to me that I stay in the place where I recognize the wisdom that is from this world and the truth that is from above. It matters to me that I can see the difference and that the choices I make everyday reflect that difference. I want to voice the things that I learn from the time I am spending in the presence of the Lord. I want the truth to flow through me. I want to say things that align with the truth of Scripture, even if those things are not popular enough to be put on a T-shirt.