How is it possible that three little words can cause so many mixed emotions? Mutter them aloud in public and you’ll get all sorts of responses – some parents may rejoice with glee and do a little dance (all the while fighting back tears, hoping no one will see), while most kids will hang their heads and grimace in pain and dread. It’s that time of year, though: Back to School. It is that time, with squeaky new shoes and a backpack full of supplies (most of which they will never use), when children of all ages drudge back to class for another year of book reports and pop quizzes.
During the decade-plus that I served as a youth minister, I noticed that each new school year was marked with a new fashion trend. I also remember that when I was in the tenth grade we all wore pink polo shirts with the collars flipped up. We thought we were so cool. But the next year pink polos were definitely out and everyone was wearing parachute pants with zippers all the way down the side. I’m not quite as hip and cool these days, and so I’m not exactly sure if this year I’m supposed to wear tight, ‘skinny jeans’ or big, baggy jeans with my underwear showing out the top—I’m more than a little confused. The only thing I know for sure is that if I stepped on a local campus I’d get laughed at if I wore a pink polo and parachute pants!
If, like me, you aren’t sure what the latest fashion might be, let me point you to something that never goes out of style. In Paul’s letter to the church in Colassae he suggests that “as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience… Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” For over two thousand years those who look the sharpest in the eyes of God are not necessarily the ones with the trendiest clothes, but those decked out in compassion, kindness and love. You may not find that type of fashion in the pages of Cosmo or GQ, but you will most definitely stand out as the best and the brightest to the One who matters the most.
Finally, let me also pass on some beauty tips I came across from ‘Dear Abby’ a number of years ago:
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, see the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
What makes us truly beautiful is not what we wear, but who we are beneath the fashion of the times.