A quick trip to the grocery comes with a dilemma. Makeup? No makeup? Hat? No hat? I care about what I wear, but not always. Sometimes I take the real me, unphotoshopped, as I sneak around the aisles. If I spot someone I know, I pretend to be glued to the buy-one-get-one free chicken broth just to go unnoticed.
Today I just wanted to get in and out of the store, short and sweet. I didnâ€™t feel like small talk but you canâ€™t escape it there. The people in green are just so stinkinâ€™ friendly.
The very second I walked to where the baskets were waiting, I was greeted by the kindest man ever. Jacob. Older than my father but younger than my grandfather so I donâ€™t know to classify him. Every time he sees me, without fail, he loudly calls to me, â€œAhh, my favorite customer is here. Kim! How are ya today, Kim?â€ Emphasizing my name each and every time. Cheeks turn red; I should have worn the hat.
A couple years ago, Jacob got me confused with someone else and called me by the wrong name. This sparked our friendship. He reminds me of this every other time I see him, and he often recounts the entire story to whichever cashier is within earshot. I play along and laugh at the appropriate time, wishing he would work a little faster. Impatient Man is behind me. Jacob hugs me hello, hugs me good-bye, and I donâ€™t even know his last name.
He sees me at my best, like right after Iâ€™ve had lunch with a friend and stop in for some milk. And my worst, like the time I felt the need to personally question the gentleman in the parking lot who flipped me off because I got his parking space. Thatâ€™s another story he likes to tell. (The time he was dressed up as Santa and walked up to me and said, â€œHow are you today, Kim?â€ still has my kids rattled.)
This time, between bagging eggs and Cheetos, he pays me a compliment. â€œJacob, you are too kind but I think you need to get your glasses adjusted. I look terrible and you know it.â€ We laugh, he insists, I contradict. I know the guy behind me hears, even though he now pretends to read the cover of Cooking Light. And I know he thinks a little cover-up would have done wonders.
As Jacob takes my groceries to the car, we take our time. This is when we catch up on the kids, his work schedule, and the price of groceries. His breathes like the 70-something-year-old-man he is and I wonder how I would ever know if something happened to him. He packs up my car, hugs my neck, and says heâ€™ll be looking for me on my next trip. I secretly vow to make myself more presentable next time.
As I back out of the parking lot, I look in the rear view mirror and try to see who he was talking about.
Why is it so difficult to see ourselves as the bag-man does? Beneath the dirt and beyond the phony. Past the impatience, beneath the mask, and beyond the organic bananas, to the core. Past who we used to be, to who we have become. Every time we see ourselves as not-entirely-forgiven, or not-exactly-beautiful, or not-as-good as-our-neighbor, we undo everything that was accomplished on the cross.
We were made to walk in grace, to rest in mercy, and sometimes it takes people like the bag-man to gently remind us of that. God sees us bare and undone and loves us in spite of ourselves. Why canâ€™t we do the same?
I think we could learn a lot from the bag-man.
1 Peter 3:4: Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. (The Message)
Great thoughts, Kim! What a great reminder of who we are and how God sees us. Your family continues to be a great encouragement to me. Thank you!
Thanks for reading Jason! Sometimes I’m amazed that God still LIKES me after some days, let alone loves me beyond belief.
Loved reading this. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Love, love , love this! You have always been a wordsmith….and I’ve told you so how many times now? Beautiful insights said in such a way that causes my heart to sit up and take notice….to read again…to listen not just with my ears.
Thank you, David. I’m smiling with that compliment coming from you, an amazing wordsmith yourself!! I have a song in me, somewhere, and one day I’ll be brave enough to let you see those lyrics. 🙂
Kim, I’m a 60 yr old full-time Minister of Music at a Methodist Church in Ga. and I just want to tell you your blog was touching and indicting. Being a man, I don’t fuss about how I look as I often told my sons, “I’ll never see these people again” so what does it matter if I wear my house shoes to the store? Our Hollywood society and photoshopped images has resulted in women feeling that they are constantly being judged and scrutinized on their appearance. As a single man, I appreciate a woman that doesn’t try to hide the extra 10 lbs or is willing to admit doing away with half a jar of peanut butter while crying over a sad movie. We’re not perfect to ourselves, but as you stated we are perfectly loved by our Lord, and putting up fronts of make-up, clothes, cars and wallets can become a tremendous hindrance to coming clean before God in worship. Thanks for sharing, and keep your thoughts coming our way. Marvin Beach
Marvin, I love what you said about “coming clean before God in worship.” He simply wants us to come to Him, scars and all, because He accepts us just the way we are. I’m so grateful for that. By the way, I have my house shoes on right now and I need to make a run to the grocery…I’m contemplating wearing them too! Be blessed.
Thanks for some great reminders, Kim! This entry made me think of how fortunate and blessed some of us are to receive true, unconditional love from another human being. No matter our “condition” on the inside or outside, there are a handful of folks who exemplify Christ in their thoughts and actions toward others. I really would love to meet this bag man of yours someday!
Keep Sharing, Sister –
Bruce, you are so right. I pray I can be more like Jacob, able to see and love unconditionally. Meet me at the grocery store anyday…I’m sure he would love to meet you too! 🙂
Hi Kim…loved reading the post….now we need a chapter and then a book and then several books! So real and readable…rare these days…Thanks for sharing the journey with us…
Thanks, Pastor Mike. In order for that book to ever come to “pass” (get it?), I envision many weeks holed up in some remote cabin in Jackson Hole. I’ve been told God speaks loudest there! Many blessings back to you!
Wow Kim! Excellent writing! Boy, can I relate to this….thank you so much for your words and for the reminder of 1 Pet. 3:4- I actually just read that passage yesterday only to read your blog today….Does the Lord want me to take note maybe???? 🙂 Thank you sweet Friend! Can’t wait to read more of your thoughts!
Jenna, It’s always interesting to see how God draws us back to his word through another story…I’m definitely sure there is something there for you He is saying to you. So glad you stopped by for a read!! Love to you!
So awesome, Kim. Loved reading this. Keep on writing and writing because you have a gift to touch hearts!
Thanks, Christy. I appreciate you reading and appreciate your friendship even more!
Your story was very touching and reminded me of when I was doing “Room In The Inn” at Christ Church. I’d go every week and hang out with the ladies on Thursday nights. On that night, I’d go with minimal makeup and a ball cap or hair not fussy. When the ladies went to bed, I’d go to each cot on the floor and talk with them individually. Sometimes we prayed, sometimes we just talked. One night Gwen, a recovering addict (clean for 40 days) wanted to pray. We held hands and said a short prayer. After the prayer, with a tear streaming down her face, she told me, I was SO beautiful. I was shocked because my exterior was not primped. I looked pretty bad. What she saw was the inner beautfy. THIS is the beauty that counts and makes deposits for eternity. Thanks for sharing your story. By the way, you ARE beautiful.
Connie, that is a beautiful story. We have to stop trying to present our perfect selves to an imperfect world; do I want people to think Jesus only helps, accepts, blesses, those who show up to the party in designer shoes? I fight this battle still, even though I blog like I’ve overcome the “have to be perfect” me. Thanks for understanding and sharing your story too.
“I am so thankful that every lie I tell myself can be contradicted by Godâ€™s truth about myself.” ~ Pj…
Kim, this brought tears to my eyes – powerful emotion. I believe you’re right, we could learn a lot from the bag-man, whatever form he takes.
Here’s a post I wrote about “seeing me” which is where the above quote came from…
Penny, isn’t it just like God to send us lessons in the simplest form to reassure us that His love knows no bounds? We simply have to listen and watch! I love your quote; that’s a powerful promise. I’m more grateful every day that we’re loved unconditionally by Him…in spite of ourselves.
I love u Kim Stone…..I am amazed how u put into words my very thoughts and speak to my heart every time I read something u have written. Amazing that’s what u are. Thankful that I had a few years with you and miss u so many times I think about those days. Thanks for sharing:)
I love you back Kim Stevens! I can’t always “say” my feelings so written words have to do. I am grateful you took the time to read. I sure miss you!
Great posting, my fair friend! I remember when I needed milk so badly for my growing family and decided to just go as I was – hair not primped, no mascara,frumpy sweats – because I had never seen anyone I knew when I went shopping upteenth times before. But this time was different and I ran into Marty’s old girlfriend. I think I even started justifying my appearance when I realized that was not going to work! So sure she was thinking what in the world did Marty ever see in me, mortified, I quickly checked out and went home to tell Marty my woeful tale, which he didn’t seem to think was worth the mortification and embarrassment I felt! Men see things so differently sometimes as we women struggle with confidence and identity issues.
I wonder if we as moms and wives ever stop struggling with our confidence and identity issues? Is that just part of being a woman or do we bring it all on ourselves? I’m all for pulling myself together when I go out of the house, but it’s just so interesting to see how much emphasis we put on how we look in other people’s eyes when it doesn’t really matter. I pray our girls learn this better than us!!