spiritual growth

Overcoming Insecurities at IHOP

My husband is graduating today from Van Guard University with his Master’s Degree in Leadership/Spiritual Formation. As I dressed for the occasion, I felt insecure in my wardrobe choices. I have a smaller income than I did a few months ago, thus I have been much more diligent with how I use my expendable cash. I was going to have to put together an outfit with the items on hand. This isn’t a hard task, but it is an adjustment to the way I had been living just a few months ago.

ihopBefore we left for the commencement ceremony, we made a stop at the local IHOP for some bacon and eggs. After finishing our meal, I stood from the table and made my way across the room. With each step I was second guessing my outfit choice for the day. I was wondering if I should have chose something that was more fashionable, or foregone the boots and went with sandals. I lifted my head and saw a group of women across the room–five beautiful, stylish African American women sitting in a booth–laughing and talking. At that precise moment I saw one of the women was looking at me, and I could read her lips as she mouthed a comment to her friend, “That’s cute…” she said. Her friend turned her face towards me and looked at me. I caught her look and smiled at her. She returned a lovely smile.

I walked on, but stopped at the cash register alongside my husband. As I stood there, I heard it.  A voice seemed to whisper, “Be her.”

Feelings came over me: courage, fear, truth, goodness, change. Love.

Could I be a woman that lives in the moment of desire? Not sinful desires, but desires that are pleasing and passionate for the kind of world in which I want to exist. Could I master strength inside of me that produces goodness in the world, not ugliness?

I walked back to the table and stood before the five beautiful women. They stopped talking and looked up at me. Clearly, this was a socially awkward moment. My voice seemed as if it may betray me, but I pushed through and spoke. I told them that I had been feeling very insecure about my outfit, and I relayed to them that I had seen the exchange between the two ladies. As I retold the moment from my perspective, I shared with them that I was feeling insecure about myself, and I told them how they, while being strangers had affirmed me and made me feel better. My voice cracked, and tears began to well up, as I went on to tell them, “I have just been through some of the darkest months of my life, and your small act just blessed me so much that I had to tell you thank you.” The group began to exude sweetness and enthusiasm. I don’t mean this in any way that is disrespectful, but certain cultures are less reserved in shouting praises to the Lord, and in this moment–in the corner booth at the local IHOP–these ladies sounded like a Southern Baptist church in the midst of celebration. “Praise the Lord!” “God bless you, sweetie!” “What a blessing you are!”

And, with that, I turned and walked away. I don’t know these ladies, and I will most likely never see them again, but today they touched me and encouraged me. I can only hope that because I was a little weird in my response, they remember this morning at IHOP and will continue to bless strangers. Perhaps with blessing upon blessing insecurities will fade.