Thursday, October 28, 2010

Appearances...what do they say ABOUT you and what do they say TO you?

So I've been thinking a lot lately about appearances. Appearances, whether we consciously make the effort or not, are always saying something about us. A lot of people would agree that you can know, or at least assume, certain things about another person based on their appearance. I, however, would like to flip that upside down and think about how our appearances reflect inwardly. Instead of thinking about how appearances portray us to the world (in --> out), I'd like to discuss how our outward appearances reflect back in on ourselves (out ---> in).

If you're lost, I'm sorry. I tend to be wordy and convoluted in my explanations. Makes for a great blogger, eh? Right, well keep reading. Or don't. That's your choice.

So when I say "appearance" I mean a few different things. It can be as simple as clothing, "style", adornments or it can be less obvious in such things as posture, mannerisms, and movements.

Today I was walking across campus and feeling pretty confident. I was wearing my RUF Fall Conference T-Shirt, my new blue exercise shorts, and my Chacos. I had my CamelBak water bottle swinging from my hand. I had put on a small bit of mascara and lip stain. My backpack wasn't excessively loaded (it normally is...) so I was able to walk easily instead of being all hunched over and uncomfortable. I felt normal and accepted.

Now I'm normally a T-Shirt and jeans type of person (not that this outfit is a far cry from it) and don't put any effort into my "look". I hardly ever wear makeup - mere mascara is a bi-annual event for me and chapstick is usually my only facial adornment. (Note: I know how to look nice and professional - I do so for job interviews, weddings, funerals, etc.. I'm referring to my day-to-day.)

So why did today's outfit spark such confidence and contentment? I do believe it has less to do with what other people think about me than it has to do with what I think other people think about me. I think. I, for once, told myself I was cool, accepted, and normal. I was thinking the following things:

My shorts make me look athletic and college-trendy*. My shirt makes me look unique and reps Jesus. My shoes make me look like an adventurer and a traveler. My makeup makes me look cute and semi-girly. My water bottle makes me look healthy and an environmentalist. My backpack makes me look college-trendy* and smart.

Is that me? Is it? I'm not positive but I'm pretty sure it's not. Maybe parts of it are true...on a good day.

So I was walking into a local restaurant to redeem a coupon for a large soda. I was happy. Free stuff makes me happy. So I'm sipping away at my large Dr. Pepper and head to class. I'm walking and sipping and slowly my confidence is faltering. Am I a fat lazy American because I'm drinking a large soda? I'm ingesting so much sugar and caffeine - who does this? I'm so unhealthy.

So much of what we do is reflecting what we think of ourselves and what we want (or don't want) to portray to others. Most of it revolves around faults and insecurities. I'd argue that most of it is untrue and unjustified. Ideally we need to be confident in Christ. No matter what other people think of us, we know that we are accepted, loved, and wanted through Jesus. But this is in ---> out and I'm talking about out ---> in. I think the way we act, dress, and even speak should be wrought out of our confidence in Christ. We should be consistently telling ourselves and reminding ourselves that we are children of God. We are shining beacons of light to others and flickering reminders to ourselves.

So what does this look like, practically? And no, I don't mean that in the Christianese sense but rather quite literally - what does this look like? I think it's different for everyone. Wear what makes you confident in yourself because you are confident in Christ. Walk with pride and dignity because you have something amazingly great that others fail to even see. (Jesus, grace, and mercy). Don't make the social norms the pinnacle. (Who invents "fashion" anyway?!?) Make your walk with Jesus the pinnacle.

Don't let your appearances tell you who you are.

*By "college-trendy" I mean things that are popular on my, and other, college campuses. I do believe that it is very different from trends in other groups, ages, and people. College kids are a subculture, in a way, that is divided up further into other subcultures. College-trendy is varied and broad yet so highly unique. It's hard to pinpoint, but I think you get my gist.

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