When summer comes around, our gargantuan kitty, Smokey gets sheared like a sheep. Being partly Maine Coon leaves him with a winter coat that is wholly inappropriate for Florida weather. Add to that hairballs (sorry for the visual) and the constant need to be combed, it's easier to just shave it off.
This year, we shaved him a little early. At first, he seemed, well, embarrassed—such a regal kitty reduced to the likeness of a shivering chihuahua.
But after awhile he must have gotten used to lightness of it and weaved himself in and out of my legs, begging to be petted. I think he rather liked being free of an extra few pounds of fur.
Don't we all have that "sheared" feeling sometimes? We hold onto those positive labels people give us and when they're stripped away, we feel bare, embarrassed and struck with shame.
These are only a few compliments that can boost our self-esteem. Then, boom! One negative remark and we don't know what to believe anymore.
But, this week, when I'd returned from a women's retreat for my church, something must have changed. I was reminded of who I am in Christ and having this perspective made a world of difference.
"Are you pregnant?" a young woman asked me as I was hunched over a table, trying to read something.
Shaking my head, I instinctively covered my belly. "No. I have four children, but I'm all done having kids." I didn't know who was more embarrassed. Her or me. She excused herself and left me there. Shame had punched me right in the gut. True, my abs were not what they used to be, but did I look pregnant to other people? I slumped down in my chair.
It didn't take long for me to realize what I was doing. Wallowing. I sat up straight. That 's not me. No matter what I look like to others, my confidence does not come from the outside. It comes from the inside.
Placing my hands on the table, I smiled. The curious young lady meant no harm. And, I didn't need to cover myself, because I was already covered.
We cover ourselves when we feel weak, vulnerable, bare. But, when we trust in Christ's unfailing love for us, we can remember, we're already covered. And ultimately, free. We no longer have to be bound by others' compliments or critiques. Because that does not define who we are.
We are the bride of Christ, wrapped in His robe of righteousness.
There is no need to hold onto shame. Because, isn't that what we do sometimes? We agree with the initial feeling and wallow in it. But, we don't have to.
We can rest in confidence that we are a new creation in Christ Jesus.
No matter what is said about us that fact will never change.
"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us
that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
(2 Corinthians 5:21)