I thought I looked pretty good…makeup, hair, accessories. I was wearing a white tank and a cute pair of sandals with my favorite skirt- a silk wrap-around made from recycled saris. I call it my “hippie skirt”.
All of this gorgeousness was invested in a trip to Wal-Mart with my mother and three youngest kids ages 9, 11, and 12. My mom is the strongest person I know. She has survived polio, two bouts with breast cancer and a host of other physical traumas. Walking is a bit tough on her so she uses a mobility scooter to get around in public. It is my job to lift the scooter out of the back of the mini-van and put it on the pavement because as my son says, “Mommy has big muscles.”
So, that is what I was doing as my mother three kids watched. I was being a good, helpful, muscular daughter. Suddenly, I felt a disconcerting breeze on my backside and in an instant I knew the horrible truth. The scooter had caught the ribbon on my wrap-around skirt and my skivvies were exposed for all of Wal-Mart to see.
I sat down in the back of the van to um…compose myself as I squealed something about either losing my skirt or my rear end showing. (I am a bit foggy on the details. It was traumatic.) My children roared in laughter. When my 12-year-old daughter (how obnoxious are those anyway?) stopped laughing long enough to speak, she made a point to tell me exactly what color underwear I was wearing and then proclaim-
“I am going to remember this my entire life and mock you forever.”
Immediately, I checked to see where the security cameras were. I am sure I am on the internet somewhere. There are entire websites devoted to crazy things happening at Wal-Mart. “Wal-Martians” they call us. (Google it. I’m not giving you the link.)
Even when we are at our best we are just one step away from disaster aren’t we? One wrong move and our humanity is on display. Hipsters on the outside, “Wal-Martians” on the inside.
The Pharisees in Jesus’ time thought they had it all together too. As a matter of fact, they sort of made everyone else miserable with how poorly they were measuring up to their lofty standards. Yep the Pharisees, looked great.
But Jesus called them “white washed tombs”.
It is a phrase that is a bit odd to the western ear. We don’t often white wash our tombs here, but if you go to Israel you will see them even today. The Kidron Valley is full of them just as it was in Jesus’ day, sparkling white on the outside, full of decay on the inside.
What a comfort to know God in heaven is a God of mercy, not judgment. He has compassion on us in our weakness and grace for our failings. He even restores our dignity when we have lost it in the worst sort of way.
It is just the sort of encouragement a Walmartian like me needs to laugh it all off and try again. Well, that and a good double knot at the top of my wrap-around skirt.