Friday, June 09, 2006

June Flourish Front Page

I am posting here my front page article for the June Flourish newsletter. Enjoy!

Every morning before they leave for the office or to take the kids to the bus, millions of women step in front of the mirror to make sure they look presentable. Hair look okay? Check. Makeup not too garish? Check. Buttons done correctly, everything tucked in evenly, nothing out of place? Check.

These days I’ve been adding yet another test before I walk out the door. I ask myself, “would Clinton and Stacy approve?” Often the case is “NO!” but I can’t afford to replace my entire wardrobe quite just yet.

If you know who Clinton and Stacy are then your taste in television shows must be similar to mine. The fashion and style experts of The Learning Channel’s What Not To Wear, Clinton Kelly and Stacy London hilariously tackle one fashioned-challenged woman each episode. They go through all her clothes and throw out everything that is outdated, unfashionable, ill-fitting and just plain wrong. Usually at this point, the woman literally only has the clothes on her back. Then they show the poor dear what she should wear to flatter her shape and frame and then send her out to the streets of New York City to shop. Luckily, she’s armed with a $5,000 Visa card that helps heal the pain from losing her entire wardrobe.

I love this show. We TIVO it and watch repeats on the weekends one right after the other. From Clinton and Stacy I’ve learned that clothes don’t have to match, they just have to go together. I’ve also learned it’s okay to wear white shoes year-round and that your handbag and shoes don’t have to match.

I’d love to have Clinton and Stacy tell me what to wear, but I’m afraid to ever show them what resides in my closet. I’ll just watch the show and learn from other’s mistakes!

One of the things about this show that always fascinates me is how the fashion-challenged never seem to think they look that bad. In fact, many of them argue with the experts and criticize their suggestions. I find myself yelling at the television in frustration. “Just trust these guys, they know what they are doing!”

And I’m not the only one frustrated - Clinton and Stacy are too. Sometimes you can see by the looks on their faces that they don’t understand why the woman won’t trust them and give something new a try. Invariably, the woman looks amazing at the end of the show and never once has one woman ever said she was happier with her “before” look. By the time it’s all over they are ready to agree their old look needed to go.

As I was watching a repeat episode the other evening, I was struck by the idea that God must feel an awful lot like Clinton and Stacy sometimes. Here He is, “the expert” on life - He did create it and sustains it - and we won’t follow His advice. We often won’t even try it out to see how it looks. We fight and argue and hold on to our outdated ways of thinking and God is trying to drag us into a better life. For some reason, we often just don’t buy it. We can’t see how the after can be any better than what we have right now.

Yet just like those women are amazed at how great they look when they follow the right advice, if we do obey the voice of God, we too are amazed at how well everything works out. Standing on the other side, we wonder why we didn’t trust the voice of God sooner!

I wondered for a moment why so often we refuse to heed the wisdom of God, but then Clinton gave me the answer when he replied to a woman who said the clothes fit wrong. He said they didn’t fit “wrong,” they just fit “differently” than she was used to. And that’s the key to understanding why we cling to our way instead of giving in to God’s plan - it feels wrong.

We can get used to following our own leading and get comfortable in our status quo. So when God asks us to shake things up a bit and do something unfamiliar - like change a bad habit or surrender something that’s holding us back or forsake a sin - we start arguing. When we do take a few faltering steps toward obedience, it feels wrong to us so we back off or give up.

What we need to remember is that it isn’t wrong - it’s just different. Doing something new, learning to give something up, or following the voice of God in an area we’ve previously held back from Him will feel unusual, different and awkward. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it anyway. We just have to trust that our “after” picture will be just as amazing as God tells us it will be. And if we can’t trust God, who can we trust?
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