So this week I was packing for an upcoming trip to Africa. (I am going with a team to volunteer at an "orphan care point" that our church works with through Hopechest.) I was excitedly packing away until I realized that I was the ONLY person who was checking a bag. Huh? What? How in the heck are these others gals packing for 10 days in a foreign country with ONLY A CARRY ON??!?!
I soon realized that because we were taking lots of bins, bins full of supplies for orphans,the full time workers, etc. we needed every checked bag "credit" we could get. Basically, me taking a suitcase was going to cost my church $200 extra baggage dollars. Were my creature comforts worth that? I thought, "YES!"... but after thinking and thinking, and yes, feeling like a real heel for being the sole taker of a checked bag, I decided to give the carry-on only a go.
I never thought of myself as "high maintenance" until that day.
I like my hairspray, my gels, my lotions, oh, and let's not forget pocket size lysol, and handi-wipes etc. What about my perfume? My shoe spray (no one likes stinky feet!) and my blow dryer, my blow dryer HAD to fit.
Suddenly I realized... I really like my "stuff" that makes me look like "me."
I didn't want frizzy hair.
I wanted to rub my special lotion into my heels at night.
I wanted to smell nice.
I wanted sparkly teeth.
I wanted my feet to not stink...
I had a realization. It happened when someone said, "It will be ok Jude, the kids at the carepoint don't care what we look like."
Oh. They don't? That was when I realized the fatal flaw in my totally me centered packing. Those kids want to be loved. They thrive, THRIVE off playing with us, hugging us, sitting in our laps, and sharing a smile. They come to us in dirty clothes. They often haven't bathed in days or longer. Their heads are mostly shaved, even the girls, for health reasons. They don't have mouth wash, or loofahs for exfoliating, or special lotions. They are not trying to match the right shirt to their skirt to look more flattering. Yet... they are often full of joy and happiness. I found myself wondering... how?
Because they get it.
They know happiness is NOT found in the outer person we see.
It made me question, how much of my outward appearance is there to overshadow and cover up the real me? Do I hide behind uncracked heels, sanitized hands, and coiffed hair? Is my perfume trying to cover up the stank that would be my raw humanity? I am speaking metaphorically of course, but really... are these kids happier because they live in such a bold "here is what I am" way, that it allows them the freedom to be more honest and real with their creator and hence, with other humans?
What if I was stripped bare, would you still love me?
With frizzy hair, unshaved legs, and smelly armpits?
Stinky feet, dingy teeth, and dirty clothes?
Do you know what my eyes look like with no mascara?
Christ lives in our hearts, not our gel bottles.
If the outer Jude is altered, or uncomfortable, can I still find joy and strength?
Or am I dressing up the temple in order to hide its corruption?
Just some random, and albeit "waxing eloquent" thoughts on this impending trip. I am trying to not let the outer appearance rob me of my inward happiness... and I freely admit, that is hard. Very hard. Especially hard when you are packing all your beauty needs in "One quart size ziploc bag."
Your High Maintenance Friend,