Sunday, February 28, 2010

Of Parties and Paradigm Shifts

Today I was in a room of about fifty or sixty young women who are either freshmen at Alabama or high school seniors on their way to Alabama this Fall. Each was attractive, friendly, and bright...and all were showcased in a backdrop of a lovely home, beautiful decor, and a table of food that Southern Living would not be ashamed to photograph. The day was sunny and warm enough to throw the back doors to the house open after weeks of rain, cold, and even snow.

The guests came and went, and there were sounds of laughter everywhere. The talk of excitement about college, and introductions made were all intermingled with hugs and whispers of "she's so precious!" and "go talk to those really great girls over there..." The sounds of a recruitment party in full bloom before it goes into overdrive in the Fall.

I was blessed to have the opportunity to talk with some of the freshmen as the party was ending. Four cute girls...each unique and special in her own way. Their commonality? The bonds of sisterhood and being the possessor of a great smile. We were talking about how full they were from sampling from the refreshment table all afternoon, and how they were anxious to get back to Tuscaloosa to study but had really enjoyed the day. Gotta love that.

Somehow the conversation went from the delicious food to losing weight and then to wishing that things were different. Nothing important...just a discussion reminiscent of the warning that my Mom sounded years ago when she said that I may as well focus on the good points I have and not on what I wish I could change. I think that this is a common thread among women...we all tend to want the opposite of what we have. The truth is that most of us think that we would love to have smaller thighs or a different hair color. We'd love to be taller if we are shorter, or have curly hair if ours is straight. Very few of us are entirely happy with the cards that we are dealt...and that is most unfortunate...and futile if you think about it.

Suppose that someone offered to fix your biggest thorn in the flesh...but in return you'd have to give up your greatest joy. Would you trade? I know that if I could trade my excess pounds for my family or my desire to write, I certainly wouldn't. Oh, don't get me wrong, I need to work on fixing my weak points...especially those that are out of line with scripture, but the imperfect parts of me are part of what makes me...well, ME.

I looked at the girls' sweet faces and told them not to change a thing...and not to wish to. The looks that they were given were to made to not only reflect their family, but to attract people...and that one special someone to them someday. Each of us has preferences...and the people that they love in this life will be attracted to the external before they have a chance to look within. So, that hair color, eye color, smile, weight, height, and figure type are all a part of the package that someone looks across the room one day and says..."yes, that totally works for me...maybe I'll go talk to her..."

I don't know why that came out of my mouth, or why I felt the need to express those thoughts to them. But in doing so, I had a paradigm shift of my own. I realized that who I am and who God created me to be is important to the people that He brought into my life. I may not be perfect in my own eyes, but in the eyes of my friends and family, I am perfectly acceptable. Well...most of the time anyway...and there's a lot to be said for that.

So, those of you who are out there wishing that you had more of something or less of something else...remember that you are someone's idea of perfection in some way. It could be a beautiful spirit, a talent, a gentle and quiet manner, the fact that you are dependable, or you may be someone who spreads joy and laughter everywhere she goes. Just hang in there, look at the beauty and focus less on the flaws. Those are generally only there to keep us humble while helping remind us to keep our eyes on Him and our worries in the proper perspective. At least that's what I was reminded of today...surrounded by beauty, laughter, and enough food to keep me on a treadmill for the next decade...or two.

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