An Open Apology to my Friends

6 10 2013

Hey everyone!

It’s Tomi.

I want to apologize to you, for I have been a tad manipulative in our friendship.

I’ll just jump right into it!!

On far too many occasions, I have falsely assumed that you would be my personal “yes-man.” I have assumed all your support, your assurance, your comfort, your well-wishes and good-lucks. I have assumed a lot from you – for me.

I have assumed that your affirmations will somehow solidify my ideas and hopes; that your saying “yes,” “great idea,” and “you’re right” will somehow help what is within me manifest in its fullness – that it will now somehow be right because you provided validation that what I thought was right.

I have given you total power to affirm me. I put too much pressure on you to hold my self-esteem for me, to be the final stop before I got to my destination in believing that what I said, thought, did and knew was…good.

But frankly, this is too much for you! And too little for me.

If I give you everything to carry and to determine for me, then I do not have enough to hold within me, for myself. I start to feel empty.

I begin to feel that anything I hear from you outside of “yes” means “bad” or “wrong” instead of “help me see it” or “sharpen that more.” I begin to hear anything outside of “yes” as the death of my ideas and hopes.

My ideas are extensions of me – and I falsely and continuously believe that if they are not celebrated, they are wasted. I falsely believe that if you do not save them through your affirmation, that they cannot live.

I put too much pressure on you. I put too little confidence in myself.

So again, forgive me.

I want to hold my own self-esteem and perceptions of myself in myself, and in concert with you.

And I want to have the strength to receive correction or expansion from you.

But I have to release you first, from being my esteem to esteeming you as my friend – my wonderful, but human friend.

I have to release you from being my inner voice and a god of sorts. I have to stop consulting you to affirm my being.

I must stop this wild divination.

I have to allow myself to rest assured that what I think and say will be understood because I think that they are worth knowing.

But even if they are not seen that way, I hope to remind myself that they are still good – because I said so.

Or maybe because God said the same thing about both of us.

Good.

Sincerely,
Tomi

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The Make-Up Confession

7 08 2010

I’ll be frank. I don’t wear make-up for two reasons:

First, I don’t like other people telling me what will make me important, beautiful and loved; and, second, I think we (society, even the world) wear make-up so that our flesh (and others’ flesh) can be pleased, so that our flesh can feel like we have control over something in our lives. We feel that if we control our looks we can control our love.

But I truly don’t understand this. People are made to feel bad if they don’t mask their true selves. God didn’t make me with make up so what is it saying that I make myself into the way “I want to be so others can desire me”? What is it saying about where my heart is?

It doesn’t make sense to me. I thought God loved us as we are. And we aren’t made with make up on. Nor are we made with minds that value the root of what make-up represents: dissatisfaction and disappointment with how God made us.

Make-up is learned. It’s a verb full of colors. It’s a strange attempt to recover something that we cannot, unconditional love and acceptance, by putting colors on our faces to cover up our blemishes.

Honestly, when it gets down to it, God sees our blemishes.

To me, make-up is the half-hearted sacrifice to God. It looks good; we think we’re doing something pleasing, but we’re covering up our sin and greed and mistakes by buying into the falsity that our natural beauty isn’t good enough; we must make ourselves look better.

How God made us wasn’t enough. We have to improve it. No one can see our blemishes, only God can, even if we don’t want Him to either.

Tomi. Whoa. You’re doing too much. I only wear make-up because it’s something nice. It enhances my features. I’m not hiding from anything.

Maybe not, but maybe so.

Sometimes we hide without knowing we’re hiding or sometimes we’re taught that hiding is normal and those who don’t hide, who sit with their faces: their pimples, skin blotches, creases and wrinkles exposed are the posers, are the losers, are ugly because they won’t hide too.

But what is ugly? Exposing all flaws so that nothing is out of sight, nothing is hidden; nothing is giving an untruthful impression? Or does it trick people into a perception of perfect, and cause people to love, lust over, be attracted to what really isn’t?

It’s risky, not wearing make-up, but it can be a spiritual act of confession.

The natural face confesses flaws up front and doesn’t desire to be masked. It doesn’t put a band-aid on a scar but allows the scar to show.

Jesus had scars that He gladly showed to prove one thing: He was real. (John 20:24-30)

Maybe not wearing make-up can do something similar. It can prove our humanity, imperfection and remind us and others that we don’t have it together even if make-up or clothes say so.

Maybe make-up confesses our frailty and our peace with the fact that we are really human, just as Jesus was.

Marks, blemishes, and scars, imperfections say so.

Maybe that’s not a bad thing but a faith thing.

We acknowledge our limitations and rejoice that Jesus is perfect even when we aren’t.

And that His perfection came with skin blemishes too. Divine scars.





My Perfume Mask

6 08 2010

I know I’m “Mrs. Anti-Vanity”, but I do have a weakness that I can no longer conceal. I am vain in one particular area of my life, scent.

I won’t buy expensive clothing, wear what’s in, wear make-up, nor fall into the shoe fetish that is many a woman’s weakness, but I will buy expensive perfume.

Not a ton at a time, but I will spend a ridiculous amount of money on a perfume whose scent I adore.

It’s an addiction. It all started seven years ago. They all started out as gifts; I’m introduced to them slowly, but then surely I get to know and then lust after them. “Dolce and Gabbana” was a high school graduation present. “White Diamond”, a Christmas present. “Amarige”, a college graduation present from my mother. That was the best piece of advice I took from my mother, make sure you smell good.  

For smelling good was just as important as looking presentable my father urged. But I only took half of their advice. I was too radical to conform to societal clothing norms.

I’m only scent-vain; see, I have a heart! (I’m socially conscious!)

But I’m scent-vain for a reason. I have this philosophy that I should use and wear the best that I have as often as I can. That’s why my shoes wear out so quickly. I wear my “good” shoes all the time. I wear my best perfume every single day (unless it’s a day where I know the bees will be out and will proceed to chase me around the block!). If you’re not going to wear it every day, why have it? Why can’t everyday be a special occasion?

The way I see it, the ground is for walking on; I never understood people who grow grass just for people to not walk on it, but to show it off.  Shoes are for wearing to get wherever we need to go; I never understood wearing shoes solely for presentation sake. Crystal dishware is for eating on; Sure it’s expensive, but there’s no point in having dishes if you don’t use them to eat more than once a year…unless you’re eating once a year. That’d be a different story and quite justifiable. And expensive perfume is for wearing, not dabbing, but wearing because if you want to smell good and deodorant only won’t do, perfume compliments your already fresh-smelling scent with a touch of elegance.

At least that’s what I tell myself. But what about sacrificing what we treasure, what I treasure?

In ministry I want to wear my best everyday or not wear it at all, for I’m sure God’s not interested in in-between dedication. He wants all of you or none of you. Not what you deem to be a special circumstance or special occasion.

He wants our kindness not only when volunteering at prison or a food bank, but when that homeless person approaches your car on 15-501 asking for any amount of money. He wants our love not only when volunteering for Vacation Bible School at our churches, but when our parents are annoying us and we’d rather ignore them. He wants our sacrifice not only when we give our usual $10 dollar offering during church, but when the church asks for money to give underprivileged kids school supplies that will cost more than our designated $20 budget.

God wants our best every single day. He wants us to anoint His head with it.

He wants us to sacrifice what we “just can’t give up”, not anointing ourselves, but to drench Him in it, pour it on Him, waste every drop of our selfishness on His perfection. (Matthew 26:6-10)   

And this hurts. It is a sweet, fatal sacrifice.  

For although sacrifices may smell like death to us – an eerie combination of flesh, blood, hair, and violence – it is a sweet aroma to God.  (Ephesians 5:2)

In sacrificing perfume, we sacrifice our masks.

That which either covers our stench of sin, or enhances our fresh scent, our self-perceived righteousness, is not ours to wear, nor anoint ourselves with. It is God’s. And we’re called to give it to Him. All of it.

And shed what once covered our human stench, what masked our human odor. We shed our mask of sweetness and give it to Jesus, for it all belongs to God.

We die to our masks just before His death.

We expose our weakness, expose our weak self to Christ and douse Him with it. He takes it in preparation for the cross. He wears our sin, our mask, our perception of what we need to be and wear and do to be acceptable before man, and wears it to the cross.

He was set on the cross, wearing my mask, my weakness, my errors, my misconceptions of myself and who I needed and need to be and dies with it on.

And my mask died with Him.

And although His dead body was supposed to be anointed with perfume again, it never was. (Mark 16:1)

Because His body, our body, my body doesn’t need it.

We wear the sweet aroma of resurrection and new life instead.








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