The flamingo shorts beckoned to me across the crowded store. I had a fleeting thought… “Could I?”
Oh, but I’m not fun enough. I’ve become so reserved, timid even. These shorts need to belong to someone with a peppier disposition. I’m too introverted. I don’t deserve the shorts like someone else would. I’m not suitable enough. Basically, I’m just not enough. What if I don’t do them justice? What if I take them home with me and I don’t wear them enough, or treat them properly? What if I stain them? What if I FAIL? What a tremendous waste that would be.
My friend, on the other hand… She needs these shorts more than I do. I thought of her as soon as I saw them. She definitely has flamingo dibs. Flamingos are her thing. And I couldn’t take that away from her. She’s more important. Flamingos belong to her. And she is fun enough to pull them off! Yes, these are perfect for my friend. I will show them to her. My job is done.
And yet… I do really like them…
But, I came here for jeans. I NEED jeans. And I shouldn’t buy something else first. I can’t buy the shorts unless I do what I was supposed to do first… buy jeans. And then I don’t think I’ll have enough money for the shorts.
And still, they beckon…
But what if they don’t fit? My weight fluctuates and I’m not able to stay a consistent size. I am the person with pale, scarred legs and an odd-shaped middle. That’s who I am. Surely they won’t fit me. And even if they do fit, they’d be too short. I’m too reserved for short. What will people think? And, did I mention my scars? My scars need to stay hidden. No exposure. I don’t want people to see them, to see my vulnerability, my insecurity. It’s too much disclosure. No, it’s not for me.
But…could it be?
Ok, let’s say I can get past all of this and wear the shorts. What on earth would I wear with them? I can’t think of a thing that would make me feel comfortable enough to wear with flamingo shorts. Wearing something so vibrant feels scary and foreign to me. What if it’s not something I can get used to, or fit into my life? No, these flamingos just aren’t for me.
But…could they be?
I can be fun. I used to be more fun. And maybe if I wore the shorts, I’d come out of my shell a little. Be less reserved. And maybe I could believe I deserve some fun shorts. Everyone needs fun, right?
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
And if I accidentally stain them, it happens. Life happens… And it will be okay. I will be okay. I will not be a complete failure. I will make mistakes, but mistakes are not wasted. I will learn from them.
“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:11b
And my flamingo-loving friend? I think she would be happy for me. We could be flamingo twins! She doesn’t believe flamingos belong only to her. That’s a lie that I have believed. The truth is, there are enough flamingos to go around!
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
I think I know what I need, but maybe I don’t really know for sure. After all, both things cover the same part of my body. And who says I have to stick to my agenda? A little spontaneity might be nice.
“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9
It can’t hurt to try them. To find a pair that fits me. I am not confined to one-size, one-shape clothing. I am allowed to change. To be different than everyone else.
“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7b
And why should I care what other people think? I like them and they amuse me. They make me smile. And let’s face it. When people see my flamingo shorts, there’s a good chance they won’t be looking at my scars! They’ll be looking at my courage. And even if they do see my scars, those tell the story of me. I need not be ashamed. My scars are not who I am.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! – 1 John 3:1
And maybe with some exposure, they will even begin to heal. Could it be possible that with acceptance from others, I could begin to accept myself?
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed..” – James 5:16
And surely I can make them fit into my wardrobe. I can get comfortable with them. A little discomfort is always good anyway. Adventure is a good thing. It stretches and grows a person. I could get used to these shorts in my life. They could become the most beloved parts of my wardrobe, if I would let them.
“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” – 1 Corinthians 13:12
We are not limited to the life we see inside our minds… the stuff we label as “proper”, or appropriate for the type of person we think we are. We are not who we frequently think we are. God made us for better. For freedom. For life.
With God, we will be OK when things feel vulnerable. He is strong in our weakness. Freedom is worth being vulnerable. We don’t have to believe the lies. In fact, God wishes we wouldn’t! So much so that He sent Jesus to die for us. He says we’re worth it!
People will appreciate, and even gravitate toward, the things that make us different. These things are God-given and He created them in us to fit beautifully into His world. Without them, the world would be missing something. So, how can we hide them? We should celebrate them. Celebrate our stories, our gifts, even when we don’t see them as such. One day we will. If we knew how much other people need to see our scars, we would be letting it all hang out!
And just maybe we’d start to accept ourselves. To love the people God created us to be. To love the story He’s weaving into our lives. We could stretch and grow and even learn to enjoy the life God has given us, rather than hide away in shame. We could learn to love the things we are most afraid of. What if we miss the greatest blessings of our lives by pushing away the things we fear most? What if we miss out on the fun?
We have in our minds what we think we need but God knows better. The thing He knows we need most may not even be on our radar, but it will no doubt bless us beyond measure. We get so caught up in what we are “supposed” to do. But sometimes what we think we’re supposed to do is the works thing. God is all about the grace thing… the faith thing. And He loves to spoil us more than we think we deserve.
I don’t know about you, but I think maybe I’ll wear those flamingo shorts!
“Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God” – 2 Corinthians 3:4-5