Us

 

In my world, multi-tasking is necessary evil, but let’s not forget that it’s still evil. I used to think something was wrong with me when I had trouble jumping from one project to another. If I have ten pots on the stove, most of them will turn out “okay”, you know what I mean? But if I have one or two…they usually turn out great. That’s why I only paid attention to about two subjects in school…those ones usually turned out great, heh.

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A few people called me names like lazy or unmotivated. One teacher in a particularly evil class thought comparing me to my older, high achieving brother would help get me interested in his class. Every. Day. In order to cope, I ignored that teacher for the rest of the year, accepting a lower grade so he would just leave me alone. Thankfully, most of my feelings about being different were assuaged when I became a writer. We study personalities, psychology, and culture in order to write accurately and as many of us will tell you, finding out how many ways people are wired is like holding a homemade chocolate cake in your hands—it all suddenly makes sense.

Just to be clear how unwise it is to pressure people to fit in the same mold, here’s an illustration: In one of my classes, we were told if we didn’t achieve higher rankings in the subjects we struggled with, we’d be scrubbing toilets at McDonald’s. I have two things to say to that.
1. I’m not, even after burning a certain textbook from a certain class.
2. Why do we continuously demean the blue collar class with comments like that when we know we couldn’t survive without them?

Maybe lessons from unwise leaders are the rocks in the hands of protesters—I’m not talking about the peaceful protests about civil rights—I’m talking about protesting issues and/or methods that are less normal—things that seem unjust to those who have never seen the beauty of a homemade chocolate cake. We know this type of protest when it does nothing but divide people further.
These are people who think those two odd pots on the end of the stove are useless, never fully tasting them to see how much they could complete a meal.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
 Matthew 5:9

 

The HUNGER GAMES As We Know It.

A beautiful woman walked by me in church last week, hair a shining fan of honey, figure stitched by the best. For a moment, I wanted to be her, this lady who had been sculpted by humanity. She catches many eyes, men and women, and we all pause to see this vision, different than she was a month ago. She pretended not to notice and put some pride in her strut. Something about that strut is wrong but I still feel a bit faded with my wash-and-go hair and years-old blouse.

We come to this holy place to worship the Maker, King of all Kings, Creator of mankind, sculptor of hook noses and romans noses, thin lips, full lips, frizzy hair and various ranks of waistlines. We are walking temples, yet we have bowed to the church of man. Even in the midst of Halleluiahs and salvation tears, our insecurities walk like shadows across our eyes. They weave in and out of the chairs, drawing out attention from God to the woman/man with a better _______ than mine. Who do we put in all this effort for? Not God, for like any parent, He must think His children are beautiful. Of course He does, He made us. Could there be a greater purpose for my ghostly pale skin?

What claws at our insides so sharply that we need to fill in the gashes with another’s approval? No matter how much we love exterior beauty, this is starting to feel like an inspection before the slaughter.

It reminds me of Katniss Everdeen, when she considers the deception of appearances in The Hunger Games: “After dinner, we Hunger_gameswatch the replay in the sitting room. I seem frilly and shallow, twirling and giggling in my dress, although the others assure me I am charming. Peeta actually is charming and then utterly winning as the boy in love. And there I am, blushing and confused, made beautiful by Cinna’s hands, desirable by Peeta’s confession, tragic by circumstance, and by all accounts unforgettable.”

What really gets me is how the devil slithers into church, in holy camouflage. He works hard. Really hard, I mean, if I can obsess over my ghostly skin and how I can get a tan like so-and-so’s, then I have completely missed what God was trying to tell me in that moment. I have given God the proverbial slap in the face when I decided to take control over my appearance because what He gave me doesn’t work. Wait – work for what?

Doesn’t He count every hair on my head? Hasn’t He called me uniquely and wonderfully made? Such attention much be for a greater plan than mine.

My imperfections keep me humble. I accepted my pale skin when too many doses of sunshine burned it into cancer. I had that sucker cut out and thanked God for the skin that was still healthy. What’s tan skin when I can find joy in being healthy?

Katniss was forced to look beautiful to increase her odds of survival. No one would sponsor an ugly woman.

But they would still throw her to the wolves.

All the waxing and makeup and designer clothes did indeed help her. Because of it, she captured the interest of sponsers. But those gifts from man’s approval are not what stirred a nation to hope. Not what ultimately led to her victory. It was her inner gifts, those things that have become too cliché to mention because people still want it wrapped in a beautiful package.

Clever plan for a devil. And we take credit for it. We glorify his work in magazines, in movies, in the permission we give others to criticize our appearance to death.

A few people who know my history with skin cancer still tell me I need a tan. Thanks a lot. I don’t need your approval and certainly won’t risk my life for your viewing pleasure. Would you?

Katniss and Peeta became a symbol of hope. Not for their looks, not for the acts they put on to earn sponsors, but for the hope they gave a nation. Isn’t that what we all hunger for anyway? Hope?

In the words of my friend and fellow writer Nikki Hahn, “God doesn’t make ugly.”