50 Shades of Red

I’m not as easily embarrassed as I used to be. I’m not exactly a devil-may-care type either, but I’ve come a long way. When I was a little kid, I didn’t learn to swim because I was so self-conscious of my portly figure, I refused to go to lessons. I cried and cried until my parents gave up because it was too stressful and frankly too difficult to heft my chunky body into the car without my consent. Now that I’m an adult, I will wear a tankini and boy shorts even though my legs still have that puffy, stuck together look that cookies get when you greedily scoop bigger spoonfuls of dough than you’re supposed to because one inch balls sound like woefully undersized cookies.

My mother, on the other hand is an open book – well, maybe more like an open library where no subject is declined or off limits. She feels no shame or inhibitions about sharing anything about herself. Whether it’s announcing to the worship team at church that she may or may not feel up to being at the next practice because she is scheduled for a colonoscopy that day, or laughing at herself uproariously while telling everyone that she accidentally walked into the men’s room last Sunday, she doesn’t hesitate to bare all. My mother is not afraid that people will shun her. She doesn’t fear rejection because she believes she is lovable and truly liked.

The love that God, friends and family have invested in my mother have erased any self-doubt and compels her to live out loud and as herself. I too have the support and love of God, friends and family. But if I am honest, any hesitation on my part is my refusal at times to believe in the love that’s been offered.

It’s not without reason that I’ve been reluctant: kids made fun of my chubbiness, people that said they’d be there for me when my dad died weren’t, people that promised to keep my secrets when my first husband was cheating on me didn’t. I have felt many times in my life that my personal garbage was set on the roadside with a “free” sign.

People failed me and caused a lot of distrust, made me guarded. I know I’m not the only one. Who knows your oldest, deepest secrets? Who do you share your happy moments and vulnerable feelings with? Don’t be the friend that no one really knows. Don’t let your favorite color, coffee drink and benign little tidbits of your life be the only parts of your life you’ll share.

When you hold back your true self from people, you will get the same in return. It makes for very shallow, brief relationships. Be yourself, share your heart.  I can’t guarantee that it won’t include some heartache; even Jesus was betrayed by a friend in his inner circle and other friends and family failed him as well. But I don’t see any evidence in the bible to support allowing past hurts to justify cynicism and holding people at arm’s length.

Quite the contrary, the bible holds nothing back. There is no detail too personal or too gritty. The scandals that stain the pages of God’s Word have been penned in the blackest, most permanent ink. Yet the miracles and hope that leap from the words will live on for eternity. Everything we want to know about the character and personality of the God who is our father, friend and Lord is laid out without apology or hesitation – He wants to be known and know us in return.

If you want to know how to befriend and love purely and willingly, be His friend. If you want to live honestly and unmasked, follow His example. If you need faith to accept that it will all turn out ok, read His Word. God is not easily shocked or embarrassed by anything we do and he’s seen it all. Don’t let your hang-ups and past hold you back from enjoying your life, relationships or who God created you to be.

Angie D 6/15/12 ©


Who Can Stop a Trainwreck?

Have you ever wished that someone would stop you from doing something really stupid? I think that every time I look at any pictures of me from age two to twenty two.  

When I was a little kid, my mother let me dress myself and do my own hair. But instead of taking my fashion cues from Punky Brewster, I looked like I was hanging out with the Golden Girls. Apparently, my mother let me do my shopping at the lost and found of our local retirement center. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I was a hefty girl with a unibrow and big pink glasses that would make Sally Jesse Raphael jealous.

Being a portly child, my wardrobe included a lot of knit pants and t-shirts. But these soon became too bland for my artistic sensibilities, so in fourth grade I started to add some flair to them with my own hand-drawn puffy paint designs.

The pièce de résistance of my stretchy attire was from a collection I like to call my “Antarctic Period” featuring lumpy penguins with birthday hats and squiggles that were supposed to be confetti but looked more like Cheetos. I’m not sure what possessed me to fixate on penguins, but their melted smiles and lazy eyes seemed good to me so I wore my designs like I was working the catwalk.

As I got older my fashion sense didn’t improve much and neither did common sense. I got pregnant with my daughter when I was nineteen and spurred on by friends, relatives and my grandfatherly doctor, I was encouraged to eat whatever and whenever I pleased because I was “eating for two”. They insisted that whatever calories my youth couldn’t handle, nursing would fix, so I ate like there was no tomorrow. I ate California chicken burgers like they were the building blocks of my fetus’ nervous system and with every pound of nachos I stuffed into my face, I toasted her health.

Consequently, I was the size of a planet by the time I was nine months pregnant. And when it came to losing the “baby weight” (like any of it was the baby’s fault), youth was definitely not on my side and nursing did nothing but make me feel even more like a big cow.

There have been so many times in my life that I wished that someone would have knocked some sense into me; that they would have stopped me from humiliating myself and acting like a moron. But I don’t know for sure that my mom could have convinced me that penguins weren’t “in” or that anyone could have stopped me from eating like a lumberjack when I was pregnant. I don’t know if anyone could have talked me out of many stupid things I’ve done, even the things I knew violated my faith.

I think sometimes God lets us continue on our path of idiotic behavior so that when we finally hit bottom, the stark contrast between our stupidity and his wisdom and love is undeniable. The difference is so palpable that we appreciate God’s goodness in a deeper way. I also think he allows us to learn the hard way sometimes so that we have more compassion towards the lost and those that have turned away from God. When we are faced with our own wretchedness and have experienced God’s redeeming love, no one seems like a lost cause and you are compelled to share that hope.

Every time I write, I can’t help sharing how God has changed my life and blessed me even if it means exploiting my less brilliant moments. While I definitely don’t celebrate my bad decisions, and many still make me cringe, I share them anyway because I want others to know how good God is. No matter how shameful your background or how many stupid things you have done, there is nothing so terrible that God’s love can’t cover it or would make him embarrassed to call you his child.

  • I believe in Jesus, loving people, living fully and creating good things. Whether it's art, food or finding solutions, I am always in "creative mode". With this blog I hope to encourage and help others to live in whatever "mode" God has called them to.

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