The Right Clothes

Gayle Barker (Woody)

My mother loves to tell a certain story about me. I think it is meaningful to her because it was a defining moment – a moment that illuminated a personality trait of mine – weirdness.

Here is the story –
Gayle comes into the room at a function at College Church. She is dressed in a plaid skirt, a pattered blouse with a wide collar, and black textured tights. Mom is standing with her friend Jan who upon seeing Gayle says,
“Esther, how can you let her dress that way?”
Mom replied, “That is what she likes to wear. If people laugh at her – she will get the message.”

I did get the message. The message I got was that if I dressed “weird” I would get attention. I liked attention, I still do.

As an art major in college I could wear any combination and my friends thought I was “expressing my creative spirit”. (It was a bit disconcerting when my friends in the dorm came to my room on Halloween to borrow my everyday clothes as costumes.)

As an art teacher now, I can wear any combination of clothes and I am “artsy”. I have even been called “cute” – odd at 61 years old.

As parents we often fuss about what our children wear. There are certainly times and places to wear certain clothes – or not to wear certain clothes. Some people seem to have an innate sense of “style” and are very definite from an early age about what they want to wear.

Other children could care less. They would wear the same thing over and over or put on the nearest item of clothing not seeming to notice if it is on backwards or not.

Our family had both types of children. Clothing does express personality and can be a window into who our children are becoming or what image they want to convey. It is prudent to take notice.

Colossians 3:12 tells us how we should to be clothing ourselves.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

The right “clothes”, what people should notice when they encounter me should be compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

The lovelest outfit in the world will not cover impatience, meanness, or pride.

I want to make more of an effort to wear those godly clothes every day.

“Look at Me”

look at me
“Look at me, Gayle. Did you hear what I said?” My mother often said this to get my attention. She wanted to make sure that I listened to what she had to say.

“Look at my eyes, Hannah. Did you hear what I said?” I used similar words to get my daughter’s attention and communicate vital information.

Why look at my eyes? Because our eyes communicate as well. There is the look that says:
* I have said this before – but here it is again
* you are in BIG trouble if you don’t listen
* you have disappointed me.
* you are dangling from my very last nerve
and finally –
* the look that kills. (this look does not actually kill, it just
makes the recipient wish they were dead)

As a teacher I wait to give instructions until all my students’ eyes are on me. (Heaven forbid that one is glancing down between their legs to read the latest text message!) If I don’t have their full attention – invariably a student will ask – after I have given detailed instructions – “What are we doing today?” Time for the look that kills.

There are so many things that distract us in life. We immediately think about technology in this current age, but I propose there have always been distractions for humans. Think about leaving your log cabin and having to watch for bear, snakes, or a hungry wolf.
The point is that because we are thinking beings – we become distracted.

The God who created us knows this. He also gave us the ability to concentrate, yet it often takes an act of our will.

Hebrews 12:1-3 Amplified Bible

12 Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses who have borne testimony to the Truth, let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance and that sin which so readily clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,

2 Looking away from all that will distract to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith and is also its Finisher, bringing it to maturity and perfection. He, for the joy of obtaining the prize that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

3 Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds.

The solution is to “look away from all that will distract”. Being the queen of distraction – this is a challange to me. Yet, when I keep my eyes on Jesus – when I “look at Him”, I am able to understand clearly what He is speaking to me.