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Come As You Are

Come As You Are

The day had gotten away from me. It was a Hands Free Saturday, which meant having fun took priority over showering and doing my hair. But now it was almost four o’clock, and I was still wearing the same clothes I’d worn in my early morning workout.

I glanced at my unsightly appearance, thinking I should probably change before taking my kids to a neighborhood birthday party. But then I remembered the party was a drop-off party, meaning parents weren’t required to stay. While my daughters enjoyed the party, I would have time to run home, grab a shower, and come back looking presentable.

You can only imagine how surprised I was when I pulled up and saw what resembled a small block party in front of the designated house. Because we had just experienced a pleasant cold snap in the South, all the adults had donned their ultra-stylish fall apparel.

As I sunk lower and lower behind the steering wheel, Avery was in the backseat celebrating. “Look! The party is not just for kids! It’s for moms and dads too!”

As excitedly as one would announce me as the winner of a million-dollar lottery, Natalie declared, “You can stay, Mama! You can stay!”

My first thought was that I’d rather clean a ten-gallon fish tank with a Barbie toothbrush. I looked down at my attire hoping it wasn’t as bad as I thought. The prehistoric workout shorts from the days when step aerobics were popular were still there. The permanent stain on the front of my T-shirt from an exploding pot of spaghetti sauce was still there too. On second glance, my appearance was worse than I had originally thought.

“I thought this was a drop-off party,” I mumbled to myself through gritted teeth, unable to open the door and face the ever-growing crowd that appeared to be auditioning for a trendy Gap photo shoot.

Two little faces popped up. “You look fine, Mama,” they lovingly said in unison.

I knew my shallow and insecure reaction was not the message I wanted to give my impressionable daughters. I desperately wanted to say, “You’re so right! Who cares? So what if I’m little underdressed! I’m going to accompany you to the party and have a great time!”

But I couldn’t say those things. I just couldn’t. The recent progress I had made to be inwardly loving and accepting toward myself suddenly disappeared when I had to go public with my imperfect outer self.

I pulled down my sweat-stained ball cap as far as it would go and refused to make eye contact with anyone. I made a beeline straight to the hostess and embarrassingly whispered my predicament. After apologizing for not understanding the circumstances of the party, I was assured that it was perfectly fine to leave the children and come back in two hours.

So that was that. I ran back to my car, relieved to simply forget about that small matter and move on. But there was someone who didn’t brush it under the rug as I conveniently did. Avery brought up my hasty retreat four days later.

“Melissa’s mom had on exercise clothes at the birthday party, Mama. She stayed the whole entire time, and she had fun,” my observant child reported as she put her shoes on for school.

I wanted to crawl under the table.

I had totally missed what really mattered that day, and I needed to tell her so.

I bent down and put my hands on her sturdy little shoulders, “Thank you for telling me that. You know what? Melissa’s mom was right. It doesn’t matter what you have on. You should just come as you are and enjoy the experience.” Then I hugged her tightly to my chest and added, “I wish I would have stayed. Next time it happens, I will remember ‘come as you are’ because that is what’s important.”

“Pinkie promise?” said my freckle-faced girl.

I detected a small quiver in my hand as I held out my pinkie. If such a situation happened to occur again, would I really throw up my hands and say, “Who cares what I look like? I don’t want to miss this opportunity!”?

But before such a chance arose, I was presented with undeniable evidence that the “come as you are” approach to life was exactly how I wanted to live.

I was asked to speak about my Hands Free journey at a neighborhood Bible study that country singer Sara Evans regularly attended in the home of one of her friends. In the days leading up to the speaking engagement, my ukulele-playing daughter and I listened to Sara’s songs and watched her music videos. Naturally, we wanted to find out all there was to know about this amazingly talented country-music artist. My child and I were captivated by her enormous voice and classic beauty that radiated through an electronic screen.

But I must tell you, Sara Evans is even more beautiful in person.

She exudes kindness, strength, wisdom, faith, and absolute loveliness. She has the kind of soul-deep beauty that immediately draws you into her heart, just like the soothing tone of her singing voice.

But I must tell you why I offered up a silent prayer of gratitude when I first saw Sara. I was expecting her to look like she did in her videos — perfectly polished with every hair in place. But instead, the real Sara showed up. She had on workout clothes, her hair was in a ponytail, and her face was makeup free. I saw her imperfections as clear as day, but they were not unbecoming; they were beautiful. She was beautiful.

That’s when I finally got the message.

I finally got it loud and clear.

And it sounded like this:

Come as you are.
Come with your hair uncombed.
Come with your misshapen body.
Come with your flat feet and the blemish on your nose.
Come with your wrinkled skin and deep laugh lines.
Come with your inexperience, uncertainty, and inner doubt.
Come with your scars.
Come with your brokenness.
Come with your fears.
Come as you are.
Just come as you are.
And by choosing to come, instead of retreat, you will give yourself a chance to connect, a chance to heal, and a chance to LIVE.
Come as you are and live.

Your Turn

Our kids care more about our presence than our appearance. Do you ever let your worry about appearances stop you from living in the moment? How can you carry out a “come as you are” approach to your relationships with your children and others?