Margaritas and Chips

Margarita

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It was a bad day. Some random lady at a ministry event decided to zing me with an acerbic comment and then my hubby stood me up for lunch.  All of a sudden the weight of the world descended upon my shoulders like a heavy backpack of cranky boulders. 

This is the part where I am supposed to say I lifted my tense spirit up to the Lord and it all washed away like a Holy Spirit Calgon bubble bath.  Sadly, my dormant deviant side kicked into gear and I decided at that moment all I wanted was a margarita and chips to soothe my weary soul.

 But, I didn’t want to go alone. I needed a partner in crime.  So, I called Keri, knowing she probably wasn’t going to be up for an impromptu luncheon at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Casa Ranchera, but crossing my fingers that maybe, just maybe, she might be open to a little frivolity.

When Keri didn’t pick up, I pulled up to her house on the off-chance she might be at home.  There she was in all her mama glory, standing outside in the sunshine with her two adorable munchkins.  Her little boy had a watering can in hand as he dug in the dirt while Keri planted flowers. I pulled the Expedition up to her driveway and stuck my head out the window.

“Hey Ker, want to go get a Margarita with me?” I nonchalantly inquired.

She looked at me quizzically.  I could see her mind chewing on my request, “Bad day?” 

I nodded yes.  Can you come?’

“I really don’t want to drag the kids and we just ate lunch.  How about next week and I’ll get a sitter.”

“I think I’m going to go by myself,” I said.

She gave me a long look.  You can’t go by yourself to have a margarita.”

“Why not? I go there all the time.  Besides, I have the baby with me.”

She didn’t say any more but I assumed she was thinking that it made me look like a sad and lonely soul nursing my sorrows like someone from the cast of Cheers.  “I’m going,” I declared defiantly, gave her a forced smile and set off for the Ranchera.

The baby and I arrived at the restaurant and were led outside by my favorite hostess.  She placed us at a table with a waiter we were familiar with and in my favorite spot for the baby to run around.  When the waiter came by I ordered up my chips, quesadilla and one perfect margarita.

I sat back in my chair and savored each moment; the warm sun, the salty chips, the tasty snap of lime in the margarita, and my sweet baby girl who tottered around my feet taking her first steps.  I breathed in slowly and then took a moment to ask the Lord what the heck was going on my heart.

First, my pride had been wounded by the insensitive woman.  I felt inadequate and underappreciated.  I had been criticized for my teaching outline.  In my haste to complete it, I had inadvertently mismatched the fonts and the lady compared me to another teacher who performed more up to her standards. 

The truth is between my two jobs, three kids and busy ministry schedule; I was amazed she even got an outline in her hands to slam. The other teacher simply had more time and was operating in a different season of life.  It wasn’t an apple to apples comparison.  More like a grape to apple comparison and I was the squished grape.

I also felt the sting of disappointment by being overlooked by my husband.  I knew it was unintentional but I had been jilted and forgotten none the less.  The one man in the world I wanted to share my dang quesadilla with was too busy for me. That made me sad and I needed to forgive him.

 The margarita in my hand raised another issue.  Why did I feel the need to make a statement and drink by myself in public?  It wasn’t about the alcohol, because I haven’t over imbibed in almost twenty years.  But there was definitely a desire to escape; to run and hide from the thumping pain of rejection.  Consciously, I knew that chips and a margarita would not soothe my soul, but it was an outward attempt to heal an inner boo-boo that only God could address.  

 And then there was the final crux, my unwavering passion for authenticity.  A good thing, usually, but possibly teetering on defiance in this instance.  My stubborn spirit cried out, “I will order the real margarita, and not ice-tea. I will not hide or posture for any man.” 

I so badly want to be defined as real, rejecting hypocrisy and my perception of Christian posing, that the very act of proving my independence might have been prideful in and of itself.  I was throwing out the baby with the bath water (Or the tequila with the margarita in this case).

Despite my misgivings, the baby and I enjoyed our little outing and I learned a few things about myself that day.  As long as I am doing what God calls me to do, to the very best of my ability, I have nothing to be ashamed of.  And even though my husband stood me up, he is generally a stand up guy and I am tremendously blessed. 

I realized the margarita was merely a symbol for relationship and it was this longing in my heart to be known and loved that drove me to reenact a normally rewarding experience. And while God met me for this margarita, next time, I think I’ll wait to go with friends.

The real housewife vs the “Real Housewife”

Pink nail polish.

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For the third time this year, I got a pedicure.  I divulge this not so you will think I have sad and neglected toes, but as a pastor’s wife, I always feel like I have to justify frivolous spending. So, there I am, sitting in my bucket seat with my feet soaking, reveling in the sheer sacredness of sitting still, when in struts a “glamazon” otherwise known as “A Real Housewife from Orange County,”  a reality show on Bravo that claims to follow real women in the OC.  Now there are many words I would use to describe this woman, but “real,” wasn’t one of them.

I tried not to stare, but I honestly couldn’t help myself.  The woman, quite simply, commanded the room.  She was striking, toned, tanned, enhanced (and I do mean enhanced), luxuriously clothed, styled, over made-up and had a slight air of arrogance. I imagine she is used to be ogled and gawked at, so it’s not surprising that she would be a tad defensive in her demeanor (and yes, that was me again trying to justify that I just called someone arrogant…bad pastor’s wife, bad!).

I confess, as I sat there in my sweaty workout clothes and ratty pony-tail with baby snot stains on my arm, I felt a tad underdressed for the occasion of nail grooming.  The “Real” beauty, on the other hand was camera ready, ensconced in a black silk jumpsuit, roped in at the waist with a big chunky belt, delicately flowing down to skim the top of her sky-high heels that she peeled off and placed in the soaking water.

Her earrings were the size of my fist and I was mesmerized, like a deer in the headlights at the surreal glamour of her very presence.  Her make-up alone, looked like it took hours to apply and it wasn’t even noon yet.  It was TV “reality” juxtaposed into my reality, strangely an oxymoron, because in all reality, people always act differently, good or bad, when the camera is rolling.

Strange emotions erupted in my belly as I sat in my chair feeling very small.  As a former model, my pride and competitive spirit kicked into high gear.  Apparently, the Holy Spirit was quenched for a few minutes as my devious sin nature took over.  The demon sitting on my shoulder whispered, “Now, if you only had those clothes, a makeup artist, a mystic tan and that purse, you could give that chick a run for her money.  You could make people stare.”

Surprise, surprise…vain people really do think like this, though I might testify on the stand that I was under the influence of nail polish remover.  But the truth is, that even after seventeen years of following Christ, with all the spiritual leaps and set-backs of a long and arduous journey, I still struggle with image management, even though I know the truth that sets me free. 

I know that what looks like success to the world-beauty, power, wealth, and status… is death to the soul.  Before I accepted Christ in my early twenties, it almost destroyed me, as I struggled with an eating disorder and a compulsive addiction to control my appearance.

Recently, I stole my husband’s copy of Why Guys Need God, by Mike Erre. And though I’ve always known that our society has done a disservice to our young women by portraying these images of perfection, I never really understood “the why”, beyond the inherent sinful nature of man. But Erre shed light on this perversion of beauty by tying our culture’s destructive behavior back to Genesis 1 and the curse on humanity.

 Erre describes this consumptive and objective mentality towards women as an assault on the very heart of femininity. As cursed men run from human weakness and overcompensate by trying to control things (women included), it has distorted the relationships between men and women.  If a woman is objectified, and her worth and honor stripped, then a man has control over her and subsequently, a world of detached men and women hungry for connection is born.  Generations of women, starved for attention by the distant men in their lives have created a culture of constant striving to somehow obtain the elusive power to heal the gap of loneliness, not recognizing that the striving only leads to an endless cycle of more detachment.

 Erre suggests that because “real” women can never measure up to images of the world, they either give up or continually compete for the illusive ideal,  starving and distorting their bodies (through surgery or other “treatments”) to create an image subject to the whims of  fashion and man’s desire.  

As a young woman, I fell into the striving category.  Now, I guess you could call me a recovering “striver.”

And so as I sat in the salon, and stewed in thoughts of negativity, the Spirit inside me burst forth, and I turned a proverbial spiritual corner.  Closing my eyes, I took a long breath and prayed for Jesus to comfort me.  I clung to His truth that illuminates the insidious evil of seduction and the temptation to compare and envy, forcing myself to remember that my appearance does not define my worth and that I am beautiful in the light of Christ’s sacrifice, never subject to the world’s obsession with youth and flawless perfection.   

I relaxed into my seat and smiled at the girl tending to my toes. Fortunately, she had no idea of the spiritual battle I had just waged in my head, and then I turned and smiled at the not so “real” woman next to me.  Empathy and understanding crashed over my heart like thundering waves as I realized that my battle was her battle, and that the great deceiver was whispering in her ear too.

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