This blog comes from a chapter of a book called Jumping for Joy. I am working on it slowly. I pray it ministers to you.
In the late 1970’s and 1980’s, my mother took to sewing. She used to wear lovely maxi dresses, which she hand-stitched using McCall’s patterns and added adornments. My mother, Vicky, was beautiful and always looked much younger than her years. A lady who lived in the neighborhood had been watching my mom leave for church and other engagements in her long floral maxis dresses. One day, she came over and inquired about borrowing one of my mother’s gowns for a special occasion. My mother weighed about a hundred and thirty pounds, and the woman who stood before her weighed at least three hundred. She thought she could borrow one of my mom’s dresses because she, like us at times, kept passing by the mirror and seeing what she wanted to see reflecting back at her.
There is another story about my mother that I will never forget. One day she was invited to a Tupperware party. The party was hosted by a lady whose husband worked with my dad. My mother and his wife were good friends. They were Pentecostals; we were not. I do not think they wore headscarves or Tzitzit’s, but they had their own attire. Long hair, long dresses, no makeup, and a strict unspoken rule book. My mother showed up to the party with her eyeliner, mascara, bleach blonde hair, and a pair of jeans and a T-shirt that said, “Jesus Loves You.” Many of the women soon gathered in the kitchen, away from my mom. They whispered. They snickered. They made remarks, and my mother overheard, Jezebel, harlot, and sinner. Perhaps these women had memorized 1st Peter chapter 3, but they had missed the gentle spirit and the audience it was written to at that time.
“Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” (I Peter 3:3-4).
Finally, my mother stood in front of them as the Tupperware presentation was coming to a close, and she said, “If you really think I’m a Jezebel headed for hell, shouldn’t you have shown me love and told me about your God—my God—our God? Is not love the greatest gift? Won’t the world know we are Christian’s by our love?” The woman who had invited my mother came to console her, but you could have heard a pin drop in the room. It was a Harper Valley P.T. A- moment. If you’re not familiar with the Harper Valley P.T.A., pull up the old song on YouTube and listen. My mother, in tears, made her way home feeling like an outcast and judged wrongly. I remember this moment for she had taken me with her to the party. Walking home, with mascara running down her face, she told me that the Father looks on the heart. Men always judge the outward appearance.
In both these stories, lessons were learned through mirrors being held up. This, too, is a process of transformation. Caterpillars go through transformation before becoming beautiful butterflies. We are to go from glory to glory. This process may last a long season, but when the butterfly burst forth in all its beauty and begins to fly, what a joyful day that is. The butterfly is no longer hidden in the dark cocoon–the developing room.
“Butterflies are known for having the widest visual range of all wildlife. With a larger visual field than humans and excellent perception of fast-moving objects, their keen sight could be why the species is so abundant. All butterflies have the ability to distinguish ultraviolet and polarized light through their photoreceptors, the light detecting cells in color vision.” for more, click HERE.
Sometimes we learn the most hidden in the darkness and wrapped in the Father’s Wings. “The LORD has said that he would dwell in the thick darkness” (II Chronicles 6:1).
” And the people stood at a distance as Moses approached the thick darkness where God was” (Exodus 20:21).
Sometimes joy arrives in the strangest of circumstances. It comes from those deemed outcasts. It takes a conversation with a homeless veteran to remind us that we have heat blowing through vents in our homes. It takes our car breaking down for us to realize the joy of transportation. At other times, it takes a person in a room that we do not want to be labeled as being seen with, like the woman with the alabaster box. The Pharisees rebuke Yeshua. “If this man (Yeshua) were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39, NASB). All the eyes in the room were on one woman who they deemed unworthy. The elites were so blind they could not see that the greatest prophet who ever lived was in their midst, but this woman had eyes to see.
One night, years ago, before a conference with a pastor, a small group of us in ministry had gathered outside the sanctuary. We were all talking on couches when several others came and sat with us. Some of them had issues with mental health. One was convinced he was the anti-Christ. Many, like him, were coming to these meetings for prayer– and healing from mental disorders. One night, a woman, who made the ministry team uncomfortable due to her beady eyes, strange sense of humor, and continuous mirth at all the wrong moments, sat across the way from me. We’ll call her Brenda. Brenda began to talk, tease, and chatter to the persons next to her. Brenda rode a public transit bus there and had some form of disability.
I glanced at her backpack on wheels with its Jesus stickers and hearts and pondered her idiosyncrasies. She had never married or had children. One by one, I watched people scurry away. Suddenly, they were in need of using the restroom or began to gather into another area by the coffee machine, but Abba whispered to me at that moment—”see her.” “Look at her.” Tekoa, do you want to be with the so-called elite, or do you want to love my sheep? Will you isolate her too? Can you love My sheep with all the love and even more than you have for these you are looking up to—these who are impressed by Biblical knowledge—these who have asked you to speak on Thursday night– because, Tekoa, I am not impressed.”
Me, out of everyone there, should have understood. I was the child who was forcefully pulled down the hallway by my sister and the principal in the first year of my schooling. Crying, gagging, and kicking as I went. I was the last one picked for sporting events in P.E. I was the shy pigeon-toed girl who sat at lunch in elementary school alone at times. Children were holding their noses at my smelly paper sack lunch with hard-boiled eggs that stunk. Young children, and later on, teenagers, were often making fun of me. I learned to throw my food away on the way to elementary school. I was ganged in Middle school by a group of girls who beat my head into an aluminum fence post so badly I couldn’t wash my hair for a week. I learned to disappear in a room. Now, I was watching adults do what was done to me. They were treating her as if she were a ghost, invisible, and without worth. I had done the same at times.
But that evening, I walked over and sat next to this woman created by my Father and began to make small talk. I eased into the chair and complimented her colorful stickers adorning her travel case. I began to ask her things and smile even though she made me uncomfortable. I looked deeper into her tiny eyes and imagined His eyes shining back at me. I tried to ignore that it was summer, and she was wearing thick tights the color of a 1990’s hunter green kitchen countertop or that her paisley mauve dress looked dated from 1950, or how she cracked 3rd-grade jokes, laughing hysterically. And then I began to ask her about her life—dreams—aspirations. Mostly, what I remember is this woman in her 40’s crying buckets of tears and her telling me about her pain—her heavenly Father (personal), her earthly father who died, and her tragic upbringing. And underneath the strange mirth used to mask fears and awkward spaces was a soul that needed to be loved. Oh, friends, this is what the Body Needs.
And at that moment, my mother, misunderstood at a Tupperware party, attired in pink lipstick and eyeliner, could have been sitting next to me in a room full of religious spirits. If we think it does not exist in our newfound Torah fellowship, our smiling Joel stadium, our small rural congregation, our shul, our synagogue—, we might need to find a mirror. Cliques happen. Outcast happen. The lady with the piercing blue eyes and the hunter green stockings unfolded the sad details of her life articulately. Oh, how much childlike love she had for Abba. I felt smaller than small. I tried to imagine all the ones He created and shaped on his Potter’s wheel that we ignore—angels unaware.
We hurt—we judge—or we think we know what could come forth from their heart and parted lips—the ones who fade into the background of our lives. The lepers are crying out in this season. Can you hear them? They scream, “Son of David have mercy on me!” while the crowd tries to shut their mouths. Have mercy they roar– as we hurry to the other side of the street—the room, or worse, we pretend we do not hear them or see them.
There was a Canaanite woman whose daughter was vexed with demons, and she was in great need, but what did his chosen men say at that time? “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us. She keeps laughing too loudly. She has dirty laundry. She wears too much make-up. She’s embarrassing. She lacks knowledge. She’s a Canaanite. I’m too tired.” The healthy, chosen disciples, who one day would ponder which side—the right or the left– they could sit on in His kingdom, had no compassion or empathy for a Canaanite woman with a daughter who was demon-possessed. It was not their problem. Who cares if her daughter screams all night—hisses—put holes in the walls—wears green stockings–not our problem? Send her away, we scream! Can you hear my voice echoing from amongst His talmidim (disciples?) Can you hear yours? We, like them, wait to do what’s right—what we know is right. We wait like Moses until our wives have to circumcise our sons to spare us from death. We wait until it’s dark to get an appointment with the King of All Kings. We wait until it’s the Day of Atonement to get on our faces and weep over our condition.
Sometimes people with titles who are well known get better treatment, and we make sure to respond to them quickly. Sometimes cliques happen, and the people in them do not even know that they have formed a group of elites—big dogs. We can walk in a room and feel loved, cherished, and wanted, or we can walk in a room and feel like a square peg amongst a group of circles. We can walk in a room with new eyesight and compassion, but we usually do not acquire this without being crushed, rejected, slandered, and unheard. When we recognize ourselves as the woman in hunter green stockings, blue eyeliner, crying out for our children to be delivered from their vexing’s, or as the man lying in the street who was beaten and bloody, we won’t receive what the Father has for our hands to do. The place that lacks—the place lacking an ounce of joy comes from our self-seeking, arrogance, and knowledge without humility. The joy of the Lord is our strength. Great joy comes from anointing the sick, listening to the outcast, and having empathy for those who suffer in silence. May we not be like the men who pointed at the woman with the alabaster oil who was anointing Yeshua. They proclaimed He was indeed not a prophet, for if He were, he would see just what kind of woman she was. Oh, friends, may we bow lowly at His Feet regardless of what those in the room are saying. May we minister to a broken world, and His broken Body for a King is coming.
If this blog blessed you, you may like my devotional called Thirsting for Water. Click HERE.
Photos–my mother in black and white
Unsplash–glasses Nonsap Visuals