Wednesday, April 18, 2018

charm and grace

When I was very young, my mother enrolled me into an evening class at a nearby charm and modeling school with hopes to turn her tomboy daughter into a lovely young debutante. The goal set out for me was to walk away (or more to glide away) with the understanding of how to execute proper etiquette in any situation. It was a unique experience that I both loved and hated. Loved: because it proved to be really girly. Hated: well, because it proved to be really girly. Ha ha.

My class consisted of about twenty girls, mostly in their pre-teen and/or teenage years, however, I was much younger. Our instructor, Mrs. Kent, was an older, refined woman who frequently wore blouses that tied at the neck. I remember noting that the tie of every Mrs. Kent blouse was always knotted in the most pristine bow. You see, in my mind Mrs. Kent was always perfect and her ties were no exception to this theory. She set the "charm" standard for us all. Sure, some days the tomboy in me would daydream of running up to Mrs. Kent to untie her perfect bow so that she would become a common mortal like the rest of us... or at least like me. Of course, I never did such a thing. Instead, I began to mirror the ways of Mrs. Kent and wear blouses adorned with bows tied neatly at the top. Thanks to this kind woman, I was able to demurely set aside my childish shenanigans and learn the art of becoming a lady. (A lady with moxie, mind you... but indeed a lady.)

In addition to Mrs. Kent's influence, there was an older teenage girl who stood out above all others in our class... Bethany. Without a doubt, Bethany was the most beautiful and lovely of all the girls who attended charm school that season. Everyone adored Bethany for she was clearly a natural when it came to social graces. Bethany's posture was straight. Bethany's table placement knowledge was unmatched. Bethany's dinner manners were delicious. If you ever needed help learning any given charm... Bethany was the friend to know. For without any former coaching, on the first day of class Bethany glided in with a dictionary balanced on her head, with her pinkie finger extended and ready for tea time, and with a lovely hostess gift for Mrs. Kent. (OK, maybe not - but she may as well have.) Her demeanor was soft-spoken. Her complexion flawless. Her appearance neat and tidy. Her conversation skills top drawer. I sooooo wanted to be exactly like Bethany. She was just gorgeous both inside and out. Bethany oozed charm. (I'm talking the good kind of charm... not the fake "Rico Suave" kind of charm common to shifty car salesman.)

Needless to say, I learned many wonderful and helpful lessons in charm school. But what intrigued me the most about the experience was the impact that these two ladies had made on our class from the very beginning. Neither Mrs. Kent or Bethany walked in as stuck-up or snooty individuals like the popular girls who form exclusive clicks in school. Neither went out of their way to demand special attention from anyone. Neither desired to bask in a spotlight or be showered with fame or fortune. No, these ladies simply mastered the art of graciousness. As a result, their presence could not be ignored. Their way grabbed your attention and caused you to want more. Why? Because their way was simple and good. They were respectful and thus were respected by those who noticed them. They were lovely and thus were loved by those graced with their presence.

In retrospect, I think the ministry of Jesus has had a similar effect on me as the impression of these two ladies from charm school. For just like Mrs. Kent and Bethany's example, Jesus has never shown up as overtly loud or obnoxious. Rather, He is naturally gracious and unquestionably impressive. No matter how people may react in agreement or disagreement to His message of hope, it is clear that Jesus cannot be ignored. We cannot forget Him. For He is just that important. He is just that good.

And whether loved or hated, Jesus' way has always been about action and improvement. He is full of substance with zero hype... zero pride. He is proof of all that is pure and lovely and has the ability to leave every human being awestruck when His glory is revealed... when His fullness is realized.

Yes, there is no other way to say it, Jesus is the most attractive. He is the most charming. He is the most beautiful. He is the most gracious. He is the Most High who made Himself the most low in order to grant us the most of His kingdom for all eternity. He is The Light of the world who shines brighter than any other and is simply perfect because He is. Jesus is the standard! What an honor to be given the opportunity to mirror His image. What a privilege to follow His steps and live His way.

Just like Jesus... yes, that is my goal. To be just like Jesus. When anything I say or do is noticed in this life... may it only be in acknowledgement and agreement with my Savior and nothing more. For I am nothing without Him. He is THE MOST. Let me forever walk upright and deliberately in His holy and pleasing ways.

Give me more of your graciousness, Lord. Let me always enter into your gates with sincerity and thanks. Let me sing in your courts with praise and share in your giving heart. Let my posture be your posture. Let my demeanor be your demeanor. Let my conversations be your conversations. For you are the standard! Teach me, dear Jesus, to pristinely model your love... your perfect, holy, unmatched charm and grace.



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