The church service had just led out, and I lingered outside talking with some of my friends when suddenly, I was confronted by two young men from my church. One of them asked me, “Beba, you wear eye liner, don’t you?” Before I could respond, the other young man, sarcastically inserted, “no, not Beba, she would never do that.” to which I responded, “yes. I do, why?” at that point, I honestly wish I had lied. “What? Don’t tell me that you are into that stuff, only prostitutes wear that–wait for it…-besides, you are the pastor’s daughter.”-and there it is! I wish I could say there was a happy ending to that story, that included an apology and reconciliation, but instead, I became resentful with a God that would condemn me to hell for simply wearing make-up.
This may or may not resonate with any of you, but I tell you the truth, even today, I see traces of that judgmental, and condemning attitude in our culture. The interesting thing is that I now see it with believers and unbelievers. Just a few days back, I was visiting a friend, and she showed me a video of a beautiful lady with terrible acne. She had decided to do a before and after make-up session for her wedding day. The result was astonishing! However, when we read the comments below, I couldn’t help but remember that awful situation that happened to me so many years back. I felt so sorry for all the hateful and shaming feedback she was receiving from people who felt she needed to just stop trying to be someone else. Someone else? Hum…that got me thinking.
Jesus had a lot of say about the kingdom. Interestingly, he didn’t spend much time talking about make-up, or other things that people seem to have a lot to say these days. I am going to thread carefully here, because I have been trained that “it’s not wrong, it’s just different.” However, it took me years, until I saw God as a loving father and friend. I honestly thought God hated me, or wanted to punish me for my mistakes, or decisions I made while exercising free will. It was in college that I met my best friend—who is now my husband–when I realized I had an askew view of God. I was living life, terrified of opening and allowing God to see the real me. The funny thing is that the fake me was the cultural perfection of righteousness; no makeup, no pants, no haircuts, or anything ostentatious, according to what I was being taught a Christian should look like. However, that was not real. Deep down, I was drowning, because I hated my life, and who I had become. I loved God with all my heart, yet I resented him. I said I trusted him, yet I lived terrified of what he would do to me. This behavior created in me a duality that until later in my marriage, I could resolve.
Psalm 119:113 (ESV) reads: “I hate the double-minded, but I love your law.” When I read that verse, I felt convicted. “Gosh, is that me?” “Am I living two lives?” I never thought that I could be guilty of having double standards, but the truth is, I was not being sincere with God, others, or my own self. I wanted people to see me as this sacrificial lamb, who was willing to give up personal preferences for the sake of communicating a false kingdom. I know that sounds harsh but that was me. Appearances became more important to me, than being real. Let me make this clear, the real me was not ostentatious, or dark. I was simply confused about who God was, and what his intentions were towards me. I allowed other people’s personal opinions and misguided beliefs to dictate what I believed. As a result, I became the very things I hated; critical, and unloving.
I had to spend a lot of time re-discovering who God was and what he wanted with me. I had to have sincere talks with him about my behavior and false religion. It is amazing how different the world looks when you look through a clean glass, and without any biases, or pre-imposed ideas. I have learned to love myself and others, because I understand God’s love and patience with me. He has helped me get rid of things that could be damaging to myself, while embracing this weak vessel that desperately needs him just to make it from one day to the other. I have come to realize that what I needed all along was a loving father and friend, and that is also what this world needs.
I’m sharing these thoughts with you today because I see how make-up, hair coloring, and other trends are becoming more popular and socially acceptable, however, I see that while some are trying to explore new fads, or trying to figure out who they are, others are tearing them down with negative comments and misguided projections of a hateful God. Let the Holy Spirit be the one who convicts someone about their lifestyle, and choices, however wrong these may be. We are called to love, as we have been loved. Let’s face it friends, some of us were not very lovable until God got a hold of us. Let’s show others the same compassion and watch God do the rest.