Disclaimer: It's not what you think, I'm not about to make you feel awful for using social media, or challenge you to take this long dramatic break. Do that on your own terms, I'll let you make your own decisions in that department. It's safe to keep reading.
We are more visual than ever before. I believe it, I don't hate it, but it's the reality we live in, and it can be a struggle. There are those things which captivate us, those things which win us over, gaining our attention and in turn taking up space in our minds, occupying our moments, days and even weeks. The shine, the glitz, the glam, the perfectly placed, the photograph worthy...we are enamored by the way things appear. Especially as women, pretty things just captivate us.
As for me...I am describing myself. I love the art of detail and beauty, the combination of different elements coming together to create something appealing to the eye. I love to style things, create and host. I believe these things are often an extension of who you are. I recently took on a second job as a 'stylist' at an amazing home-design store here in Dallas. I think the term 'stylist' is pretty new as of the past 5 years....but whatever works. As a 'stylist' I am given projects to complete that display products throughout the store in a way which will appeal most to a customers eye. Basically it's my job to make things look 'pretty', because this is how the process goes...customer walks into store, customer sees pretty things, customer chooses their favorite of these pretty things, customer spends lots of money, store makes money, everybody wins. There is a very involved process behind the placement of products and displays, let me just tell you, those things don't just come off the truck looking that way.
The other night I was tasked with making the 'luxe' room in the store look pretty. The luxe room is an array of extremely shiny pieces, lot's of gold and silver going on in this collection. I spent hours arranging a giant table full of everything from shiny silver votives to gold vases to silver wolf statues...yes, those are a thing. This table had hundreds of pieces on it and my entire shift was spent re-arranging all of these tiny, shiny objects in an effort to give them some sort of orderly appearance. This is fun for me, I love to think of all the possibilities, choose one, and go for it. To work with the varying color, texture, size and concepts...to make sense of the chaos. I love taking what is, and re-working it to become something completely different! I guess that is the art of design after all.
After hours of re-working the shiny items on this table, I went to go grab some dinner because I was working the late-night shift and would be there until at least midnight. I ran over to the cafe on the corner, ordered my soup and salad combo, got some tea and sat down. There weren't many people in the restaurant, after all it was almost 10pm. I sat in a booth which was connected to another, and there was a man sitting rather close. Some days I would choose the table furthest from another person, but this night I thought, 'why not sit near someone if you are going to eat alone right?' I noticed the man, he was working on his laptop, but I didn't really examine his face, I just sat down and began eating my meal.
After several minutes, I looked over at the man again. He looked like he just came from work, paint splattered on his arms and his clothes a bit dirty. I looked at his face, it looked worn, but he was intently focused on his computer screen. After a few seconds of looking at his face, I realized...I knew this man. 'Colby, is that you?' He looked up at me, 'Whoa, fancy seeing you here' he said. He stared at me rather blankly, and I couldn't tell if he remembered how he knew me or if I was just a familiar face to him. I said, 'Last I heard you moved yourself to California, I can't believe I'm sitting next to you having dinner, how are you?' He proceeded to tell me he was back in the area and life was still 'awful'. I told him not much seemed to be new with him then. He laughed. Colby was always known to be a bit pessimistic, well more than a bit. He was the type to always answer the question of 'how are you?' with the same 'I'm horrible' answer. I always knew that it wasn't fully true, but he had just been saying that for so long that somewhere along the line, this response became his go-to.
I asked him if he remembered me, He said, 'of course'. 'I remember you, but I really remember that one conversation we had where you asked me if I believed in God.' I laughed and said, 'I remember that conversation too.' 'I remember it was like pulling teeth but you did tell me you grew up in a very strict religious home which caused you to run away.' Sad, but unfortunately a likely story. He just stared back at me, as if it had been a while since someone knew his story. We then proceeded to talk for a few minutes, but my dinner break was coming to a close and I had to get back to work. I told him how great it was to see him, and that I hoped to see him again. He said that he would be at that cafe every Wednesday night. I asked him why? He told me he had bible study there every Wednesday with people. I smiled and asked him 'what people?'. 'Just people.' he said. He always was a bit ambiguous, I think he liked it better that way. I was ok with it. 'See you aren't doing so horrible after all.' I said. He smiled and I told him I hoped to see him next week.
Colby was one of the homeless men I used to know over at the Salvation Army from when I worked with Back on My Feet, an organization which runs with individuals experiencing homelessness. That guy could run, he ran for miles and miles. We had several other conversations throughout my time knowing him, but the one he remembered struck me. I left that cafe with tears in my eyes and a greater understanding of God's divine plan for us. It's like He was nudging me, telling me to not get so caught up in the display of things. He was telling me to take a break, to never forget to see people, even those who aren't shiny or on display. See the people who aren't so put together and perfectly presented...to have more conversations about things of value, even though they don't always come natural, in the end they are always worth it.
I went on my way, back into the store to complete my project. I finished and by the end everything had a place and the products on the table looked a bit more appealing than when I started. Mission accomplished, at least for the night. I left work that night with a deeper perspective. I was reminded that there is nothing wrong with enjoying pretty things, it is ok to love styling, or photography, or design. We have all been given unique gifts and the display of those gifts are absolutely to be valued. Though, all of that stuff means nothing if we don't continue to challenge ourselves to see the people surrounding us in each moment. If we allow the art of beauty and display to steal all of our moments and occupy all of our thought process, then we leave no room for the supernatural to occur, because this requires us to simply be present. To engage, to be in tune with our surroundings...to look up.
This is something I have failed at far too many times. Let's strive to find the balance. Often life is about this balancing act...of good things and our view of greater things. I'm not saying that we all need to get 'off-insta' or stop doing things which bring us to life, I just believe that if we aren't careful, we will keep missing it. I have missed it, time and time again and each day I hope to come a little closer to the mark.
Marks of the True Christian
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality....
May our talents always intersect with our passion and may we always be passionate about loving people well. I hope you'll recognize your gifts and run with them. Run with them in a way which allows you to continue to live each day in the moment, engaged with others. I hope you'll continue to love pretty things, but not let the things which are visual take over all of your thought life. We can find the balance, sometimes all we need is a little break...time away from the glitz, to gain perspective. Maybe it's in a booth alone, or maybe it's in a booth next to someone else. Wherever it is, I hope you'll find the time to sneak away from that which is on display today.
*Photo credit- Sam Melton the incredible.