Nail polish, Pi, the perils of mascara, and why we run from God

5 08 2007

      I actually have my toenails painted.  Which is wierd.  I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.  I’m totally not into the cult of beauty.  I think at one point in my adolescence I hoped I would turn out gorgeous, but A) I had extraordinarily bad sub-cutaneous acne and B) I spent so much time crying in math class I couldn’t wear makeup. 
      I did all kinds of things in math class (other than math.)  I composed poems about how much I hated math.  Sometimes I turned them in on tests.  My teachers were not amused (but then math teachers so rarely are!)  I decorated my paper edges in lovely designs.  I acted out indian raids where every problem solved was another settler’s house burned down.  I read novels under the edge of my desk.  I discovered a sundial on the tile floor.  I could tell by the edge of the light on the striations in the tile how many more minutes before class was over.  For a couple of years I worked on a complicated system by which you could tell if any number were a male or female number.  (Don’t ask- I’m hoping to patent it.)  And finally, I wrote stories.
       Sadly, none of these things improved my math grade.
       How did we get from toenails to math grades?  Ah, yes…. mascara.  Quite hopeless.  In sixth grade I had a math teacher who believed that if you memorized the formulas there was no need to ask questions.  Therefore he would never answer questions, which drove me berserk.  I still have unanswered questions about sixth grade math:
       What is pi, anyway? 
       Who developed it?
        What is the quadratic equation FOR?  I mean, I don’t want to waste a lot of time memorizing it if I’m never going to use the stupid thing.
        Is there a system for solving those crazy word problems where two people start out in different directions at different speeds and you’re supposed to figure out when and where they meet?  Because I still can’t solve those, and now I have to teach them to my son.
      Since I got yelled at any time I asked a question, and since I couldn’t learn the stuff without asking questions, and since my dad would thrash me if I didn’t learn it, I spent a lot of sixth grade crying.  I discovered that mascara stings, and I gave up on it.  I also gave up on foundation, which doesn’t tolerate crying either, and most other forms of makeup.  

        Good grief, I’m blathering tonight!  Ok, lets wind this sucker down and get to the point: My nails are polished because Adrienne polished them.  We went to a “girls night” at Elizabeth’s house.  (So most of the girls were over thirty- who cares?)  She had all these nice tubs out, and we soaked our feet and talked and scrubbed our feet and talked and did our nails and talked and ate a lot.  It was fun.  I think I missed a lot by not going to slumber parties when I was a teen.  
      Anyhow, as soon as I saw the tubs, it reminded me of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet.  You know, the Amish still practice the sacrament of foot-washing.  We do communion in our church, but not foot washing.  I liked it.  I liked the symbolism of servanthood.  I liked the connection with Christ.  So I washed Adrienne’s feet.  It was fun.  I like giving back rubs and fixing people’s hair & stuff.  It’s pleasant.  It’s sometimes difficult for me to touch people, and doing that sort of thing is a nice way to get around my problems with touch.
      But what really was emotional for me was when Adrienne insisted on painting my toenails in return.  She got down on the floor, which couldn’t have been very comfortable.  She held my foot in her lap, on her nice black pants. Then, very carefully and concientiously, she painted my nails bright red.  I think it was more humbling letting her serve me than serving her.  I wonder if Peter felt that way.  He must have or he wouldn’t have asked Jesus not to wash his feet. 
       God says it is more blessed to give than recieve.  I have found that to be true- I love to give.  I love to serve.  (I’m not always very good at it, but I love it.)  Sometimes it is hard for me to recieve.  To let someone bless me.  To accept help.  It is hard to humble myself and say, “I need you.  I can’t manage alone.  Please help me.” 
       Neal and I struggle in our marriage sometimes because he finds it almost impossible to say, “I want you.  I want to be with you.  I need your help.  I need your company tonight.” 
       It’s so hard to unbend that rod of iron in our spine and let someone else know we’re not perfect, not self-sufficient, not “fine.”  How often does someone say, “How are you?” and we say, “Fine.”  Fine, fine, fine….  What if I’m not fine?  Will you love me less?  What if I’m frightened?  What if I’m lonely?  What if I look around my house and I’m afraid?  What if my faith slips a little bit?  What if my hem shows?  If you get a good look at my mess, what will you think of me?
       Sometimes I think the big question of all time is not, “Is there a god?”  but “If there is a God, will he love me?”  I think we’re so afraid of His rejection, we refuse to believe.  Who, in the middle of their mess and insecurity, really wants to believe in a holy, pure, all-knowing, all-powerful God?
      I know I didn’t.  I think I realized that there was a god when I was sixteen, but I didn’t come to Christ until I was twenty seven.  Where was I for eleven years?  Running.  My friend Lori Hendon’s father was a baptist preacher.  He preached a sermon I attended that said I was a sinner, condemned to hell.  I cried in the service, and my friend thought I was ready for conversion.  In reality, I was very sad.  I had just discovered that there WAS a God, but he was already mad at me!  Oh well.
      I think I thought of God as some great math teacher in the sky, who had graded my test and discovered that I failed.   How could I have ever guessed that he was a God so humble he would be willing to go down on his knees and wash my feet so I would be clean? 
       Although, he might have drawn the line at painting my toenails.




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