i received, today, an offer for a great deal on “supermodel essentials.” “wow!,” i thought. “i’ve always wanted long, lean legs, a personal air brush artist to cover flaws, a team of lighting professionals, and an entourage of doting wardrobe folks who whip out the perfect outfit and tailor it to accentuate the positives and camouflage the negatives. i’m so in!!!” come to find out, however, that none of these essentials were included in the offer. instead, i was offered “sexy t’s, cute yet comfortable pants, and lots and lots of lip gloss.” i decided not to click “buy.”
and yet, along with countless others, i buy in every day.
i am prone to notice the “essentials” that seem just out of my own reach...just as many of us are. the straight teeth. the flawless, wrinkle free skin. the full head of hair. the title that we somehow never earned. the couch that has one less stain and several years less wear. the winning smile and entertaining ways of the pta president who volunteers in the classroom, brings goodies to the faculty, and has a thriving law practice. the car we dreamed we’d own but now know we’ll never afford. the kids who get straight a’s, hit home runs, and are humble to boot. the white picket fence or the house with just one more bedroom. the six pack abs. the sharp wit and brilliant vocabulary.
we are masters, it seems, at believing that all kinds of things are essential. and yet, do we really, truly, in the depths of our beings, believe this? are titles and appearances and and possessions and the like really essential to who we are and how we measure and consider our level of contentment?
i will tell you this. no manner of sexy t shirt, cute yet comfortable pants, or lip gloss will turn me into what our world calls a super model. regardless of all the claims advertisers make, all the dollars they put into trying to make me believe them, all the dim lights and bold promises in the world will never, ever alter me enough.
the same is true of so many of the things we imagine are essential to our happiness, our beauty, our health, and our acceptability. i talk with people every day (and oh how i can relate to their thinking) who are certain, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that if they were just smarter, better looking, more conversational, less conversational, better dressed, richer, younger, older, more networked, stronger, hipper, and drove a better car they’d be more loved. by others and even by themselves. just as if what a person puts on could have the power to make them a supermodel.
and so, i ask myself (and encourage you to ask yourself as well), “what do i deem truly essential in my life?” my own response starts like this:
an open and respectful heart and mind toward others...even toward those who believe that sexy t’s and lip gloss are essential.
a deep faith in a God who is, above all else, loving.
enough structure to help me grow and enough freedom to help me live.
a willingness to be shaped by and be engaged in the shaping of others..even when it’s uncomfortable.
and i’m working from there.
the goal is to be honest with ourselves about the essentials rather than believe one list and behave, largely unconsciously, out of an entirely different one...to live as though the “perfection” of our outsides (our bodies, our homes, our careers, our families, and so on) is more important than those qualities and pursuits that essentially shape us at the core where t shirts and comfy pants and lip gloss have no power.