Keeping Up Appearances

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Embarrassed and disheveled, I walked into the pizza store for the second time of the evening. My shirt had tiny dirty handprints around the hem. There was sand from the playground sticking to my sweaty skin. My face didn’t have a single smear of makeup on it. Wisps of hair were falling out of my loose ponytail. I was clutching my grass-stained son when I hesitantly told the cashier, “I put the pizza I just bought here on the roof of my van and totally forgot to grab it before driving home.” After I got these pathetic words out, I felt better and decided to make light of the unfortunate situation: “So if you see a steamrolled pepperoni pizza on 12th street, you’ll know who’s it is.” We both laughed and the manager of the store was generous enough to give me a brand new, not run over pizza.

After I got home that night and popped the pizza into the oven, I asked myself, “Why was I so embarrassed?” The answer was an ugly realization-I cared too much about what others thought about me. Ouch. This wasn’t a new revelation though. Through the years I have tried to work on the pride and worry accompanied by keeping up appearances. It’s exhausting striving to make everyone happy all the time and pretending to be effortlessly put together.

Do you ever wish you could just learn a life lesson and be done with it? I am constantly baffled at how fickle my mind can be. I may spend several months wrestling a certain characteristic into submission, only to find that a while later I need to address the exact same subject again. But I’ve found that’s the process of growing in Christ. We can’t fully overcome our own flaws without the power of Jesus’ sacrificial example.

The good news is that the Royal Judge cares about the state of our heart rather than the state of our self-sufficiency. So what is most important to the King, should also be held as most important to me. I need to rely on His strength to overcome the temptation to blend in with the world and appear self-sufficient. I need to remember that most people who appear like they have it all together are actually struggling deeply; often relying on harmful substances and attitudes just to keep up the facade. I need to rely continually on the Savior so I can live more abundantly-continually, not just once in a while when I’m struggling; continually.

So the next time you and I have our own little “flying pizza” moment, may we remember that God’s approval is the only one that matters. May we cling to His promises as we progress through the process of becoming more like Him in this life. May we take hope in the fact that we don’t need to be perfect because Jesus has already come before us to assume that role. May we strive to care more about others than our own self-sufficiency. May we fully know that relying on Christ is not weakness, but strength. May we live in this blissful freedom this week!

“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 16:7)

“I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” (Psalm 16:8)

“Cease striving and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10)

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