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A Lipstick Stained Stress Ball in the Church Ladies Room

The day had come. It was time. I had prepared. I had made notes. I had planned the entire week around this. I was ready – or so I thought. Heck, who was I kidding? I was not ready. Not ready at all. In fact, I was so nervous that I nearly brushed my teeth with hydrocortisone cream. Ever been so nervous that you couldn’t put your contacts in? Yea, well, that was me. 

The silly thing about it was I really shouldn’t have been nervous at all. It was actually something I was looking forward to. So why the heck was I stressing out so badly? Why was I standing in my closet with clothes all over the floor professing that EVERY single thing I owned was all wrong? Suddenly my jeans were revolting against me, my shirts were backing them up and I was certain I would need to cancel due to an insufficient wardrobe. The current outfit required a pair of shoes I couldn’t find. It was only the 19th ensemble I’d put on. I was starting to get blisters and bruises from this closet disaster. What is wrong with me?

I dropped down to the floor amidst the pile of discarded garments. That confirms it. I’m officially a nutcase, I thought as I took a couple deep cleansing breaths. They say that’s supposed to help. So is pinching the area between your thumb and first finger. Tried that. Not sure it helped that much, but soon I was back on two feet grabbing the first outfit I had put on earlier that morning. It would have to do. Now shoes. Oh boy. Here we go again.

Determined not to be deterred by outfit selection, I finally left the house for my big meeting. The drive was only 20 minutes. I left an hour early. Well I didn’t want to be late. Ya never know if you’re gonna get stopped by a train or if a herd of cows will block the way. I argued with myself behind the wheel.

Is that a cough I feel coming on? 

Maybe I’m too sick to leave the house. 

I should go back home.

Self, get a grip. You’re fine. 

I got to the church 42 minutes early. Why did I think it was going to take so long to get here? Punctuality is next to godliness, I’m sure of it. So I would just sit here and entertain myself until it was time to go in. At least I won’t be late. I hate being late. This is good. This is smart. All I have to do is wait here calmly until it’s time to walk in. I wonder how long it will take to walk across this parking lot. Oh probably 1 minute, but I should allow 5 minutes in case I stumble. Then I will actually be a little early for the meeting, but not too early to be rude. Perfectly early.  And then….

Oh no.

Not now.

Surely not now. 

DANG IT. I HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM. 

You see, when I get nervous I have to visit the facilities a lot. I’m not proud of this so if you ever see me in an airport going to the bathroom 8 times before my flight, just ignore me. 

So now I’m in the car outside the church where my meeting will take place in 39 minutes and I need to go to the bathroom. Where is the bathroom? In the church lobby. Now I’m doing more time and potty calculations to figure out how long I can wait in the car before going inside to the bathroom. I can’t come back to the car afterward. That would look I just came to use the bathroom. I can’t go into the pastors’ office area too soon because that’s just against the rules. As I was doing the math, the urgency to head to the restroom increased. I had no choice. I had to go in. 

Head down, I charged from the car to the church lobby and to the restroom in hopes I would not run into the entire church leadership on the way. I made it. Whew. Crisis averted. Relieved, I now had to decide how long to stay in there before emerging. More math. More calculations. The jeopardy song played in my head. Minutes went by and then I finally proclaimed it was time to step into the light. 

I smiled at several others gathered there for various meetings and duties. Said hello to a few folks and then made my way into the executive offices. Soon I would be meeting with Pastor Christina at Grace City Church. 

While waiting, a nice intern introduced herself. We chatted before I started coughing. Apparently when nervous I have now developed a need to cough. The first couple times I gently turned my head to cover the cough. The third time I pressed my face a little too aggressively into my shoulder…OH NO. No. Please no. I looked down. Yep, sure enough. There it was. I did. 

I put a big “majestic mahogany”  lip imprint on my left shoulder. 

April, RUN.

I ran back to the bathroom and spent the two minutes before my meeting scrubbing the lipstick stain with bathroom hand soap. It was working. Oh thank God. But now I had a huge water stain on my shoulder with a slight mahogany tint. For the love. I prayed. I tried to pat the area dry. It was no use. I finally rearranged my jacket collar, pulled my hair forward and walked out with my shoulder all scrunched up to my ear. I bet no one will notice the stain, I thought. They may wonder why I had my ear stuck to my shoulder, but I figured I could tell them I had a crook in my neck. Plausible. 

A few minutes after taking my position in the executive office lobby again, Pastor Christina greeted me and ushered me back to her office. I settled in on the comfy couch and soon forgot about my anxiety and lipstick stain as we chatted and laughed. We had the best time. It was fabulous and good for my soul. And maybe hers too.

I started the day as a bundle of nerves in my closet and soon evolved into a lipstick-stained mess in the church ladies room. While I knew I would have a blast talking with Pastor Christina, I felt inferior to her impressive resume and credentials. Why do we do that? Why do we assess our value as compared to others? Sure Christina is an amazing pastor, leader, professor, former Miss Alaska, Oxford graduate, wife and mother of twins. (I just threw up in my mouth. I’m a work in progress.) But she’s also a friend with whom I look forward to sharing tea and laughs. My worth is not contingent on my credentials nor how they stack up against someone else’s. My worth is not determined by my accomplishments, degrees, or how perfectly stain free my outfit is. God created each of us to be unique and we all have beautiful gifts that can be used by Him in special ways. My comparison of myself to others will only rob me of seeing the value I bring or the gifts I have. Just because I am not this or that, doesn’t mean I am less or inferior. It means I am different. (#understatement) It means I am uniquely me. 

I’m sure you already know this, but not everyone can do everything. God gave you talents and abilities He did not give me. Do not let the enemy dampen your spirit by telling you your gifts are less than someone else’s. That’s exactly what he wants you to think. Don’t let anything stop you from stepping into the calling God has for you. 

We all need you to be you as only you can!

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:4-8

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