There are all kinds of people. Cool ones. Smart ones. Funny ones. Cute ones. Annoying ones. Awkward ones. Dorky ones. Of all the categories God could have placed me in, He, in His infinite wisdom and might, decided that I, Melinda Sherie White, would do best in the world as a Dorky one. For example, they say one’s first year of summer camp is a time of maturity and independence. Leaving for one week meant no sleep, no parental guidance, and no electronics (which at that time consisted of my Nintendo DS and the Wii). The camp I attended, Sky Ranch, had these theme nights every night of the week, for instance, 50’s night or Pajama night, so you had to pack accordingly. My trunk was overflowing with wigs and glasses and skirts and leis and clip on earrings…but most importantly, my Elvis costume. It was a Wednesday. All of the girls in my cabin began to get ready for the night, adorning themselves in fake pearls, teasing their hair, applying red lipstick. But me? I grinned at the sexy, suave man staring back at me in the mirror. Patting my luxurious, black wig into place, I slipped on my gold sunglasses and wiggled my eyebrows as flirtatiously as possible (side note: the girls surrounding me were probably questioning my gender at this point). As I hummed “Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear,” one of the counselors popped her head in and gagged on the hazy perfume cloud that encroachingly enveloped the tiny bathroom, “Hey girls…” her eyes widened as she gasped for air, “it’s time…to go to dinner.” She bolted from the bathroom, coughing fitfully. I glanced down at the bottle in my hand and grinned…at least I brought cologne.
Fast forward to dinnertime. We all gathered outside the cafeteria, boys and girls co-mingling. Being a blissfully ignorant child just shy of eleven, the questioning, judgmental stares didn’t register with me. I guess my aura of awesomeness shielded me from the reality of how dorky I was. I flashed a toothy smile at whoever was brave enough to behold me and my glorious costume. It consisted of black bellbottom pants, a deep V button up, and fake chest hair (my dad insisted that it “would bring the costume to life”). As I wandered around, impatiently waiting for dinner, a group of boys with slicked back hair walked up to me. “Hey little man, nice costume,” said one, punching me lightly on the shoulder. Attempting to conform to the male culture, I returned the punch, saying, “Thanks, my daddy loves Elvis.” The boys’ eyes widened at the high-pitched sound of my voice, stepping back as if they had been slapped. “Guys…it’s a girl,” whispered one of them. My aura of awesomeness crumbled. I smiled awkwardly, all confidence gone. My eyes stung and I could feel the heat rushing to my face. Averting my eyes from the masses, everything seemed to amplify. Every whisper, every giggle, every murmur. My wig became sticky with sweat. My fake chest hair started to resemble a dead animal. I took off my sunglasses and looked around at the cute poodle skirts and the bouncy ponytails. Here I was, looking like a boy. I teared up. The stupidity of my costume dawned on me. I looked around at the trees and the people and the beautiful sky and the flowers and I just wanted to go home.
Have you ever felt desperately alone? Ostracized, defeated, cornered? If you haven’t, then you is lyin’ (please note Revelation 21:8). Becoming acquainted with and shaking the ghostly, frigid hand of Loneliness can render a person unstable and doubtful. It can shake a person’s faith and goad one to question his own value as a person. We’ll tap through those endless snapchat stories and see that friend group together (again) all having a great time without you (again). Where was my invite? Throughout high school, I thankfully never struggled with the temptation to drink, but lemme tell you, it was hard when I lost my best friend over it. I remember distinctly when she said, “Love you, Mel, but I didn’t think to invite you over tonight to the party because…well…you probably wouldn’t have fun…I mean, it’s just that you don’t, uh, drink.” That’s when I felt it. I felt like that blissfully ignorant child just shy of eleven, clothed in a tacky Elvis costume, whose demeanor of naivety and innocence had just been shattered by the sharp frigidity of reality. This morning, I was reading in 1 Peter 4:4 that of course “our former friends are surprised when [we] no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander [us].” Do not be afraid to be alone. Remember, the world rejected Christ, too. By following Jesus, we are putting on the righteousness of Christ, essentially putting on an Elvis costume. The way we Christians are called to live our lives sounds and looks as crazy as an eleven year old girl wearing a tangled, black wig, adorned in flashy glasses, decorated in gold chains, and clothed in tight pants and a black v-neck blouse.
So. I urge you, readers…do not be afraid to adorn yourself in spiritual fake chest hair. We are called to be lights. We are called to be different. Everyone else might be wearing poodle skirts, but you are not alone.