Exodus 25:10, “Have them make an ark of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it. Cast four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other. Then make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. Insert the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry it. The poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to be removed. Then put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law, which I will give you."
As a little girl I was so obsessed with the fashion magazines. I loved getting Cosmo, Vogue, Vogue teen, or the latest Hip Hop magazines. Taking them home and rolling through the pages for hours and seeing the different trends and styles the SUPER models had on or what the singers were wearing. It was exhilarating and motivating to take what I saw and use it to come up with my own funky twist on fashion. I would cut out and tape the pictures to my wall. Sitting in my room doing my homework, I would stare at them, often times daydreaming about being just like them. Going to bed at night looking at them, and waking up the next morning seeing those same images. Perhaps I thought if I looked at them long enough, I would somehow morph into a Super Model. Who knows! But, the facts are what I saw on those pages was not my reality. I was raised by a single parents for a large part of my life. So a single mother on a limited budget couldn't afford to get the latest fashions, shoes, clothes, and hair styles for her kids. I was picked on a lot in school for not having the latest Jordan's, Guess Jeans or Tommy Hilfiger. I couldn't even imagine going to my mom and asking her for a $200 pair of shoes. I could hear her now saying, 'Those shoes better walk, talk, wash dishes, wash clothes and fly".
However, one day I thought I had finally made it! I remember my mom buying me a pair of "British Knights" from Payless. They were so pretty with white with black lace. I put those shoes on one morning, feeling so good, and floated to school. Only to discover that my beautiful new shoes, were in fact, "BUDDIES". Yep, the "My Buddies" song is classic in High School rank hip hop, and I am pretty sure it went platinum in most high schools around the country.
Eventually, I learned If I can't beat um, be different. Now, the old saying says, "Join um", but I couldn't. So, I took that to an entire other extreme that perhaps I'll share with you at a later date. But none the less, dressing up was a huge thing. How we go from kids wanting to wear our parents clothes, dressing up like princesses and superman, tying bed sheets around our necks and making crowns out of cereal boxes, to creating a standard that says "you are not good enough unless you have this clothing or that clothing". It was such a strong hook in many young peoples minds growing up, that I knew friends who would steal clothing from expensive department stores, just so they could say they had the latest fashions. To fit in and fit what their social constructs told them they should be. I fell into that same trap, believing that the outside is what mattered the most.
Becoming an adult brought much relief and a bit of reality for me. Truly I am so grateful I eventually grew up and realized that none of that really mattered. How those kids felt about my shoes and clothes were symptoms of a greater problem that resided deep within us all. An emptiness that many of us carried around that controlled and made us hollow on the inside. The truth was we all lacked something deep within. A sense of greater purpose, identity and calling in our lives. Many of us came from broken homes and didn't receive the foundational covering we needed from within, before we went out to meet the world. The affirmation and acceptance at home that told us we were good enough just as we are, and that what matters most is what was inside, which would shine outside more and more as we discover that purpose and identity.
I eventually reached a point in life where I had to examine my heart/mind, face some ugly truths about myself and pain that I carried, as well as dig through some myths that I learned about "dressing up":
The girls in the magazines I purchased, beautiful supper models I admired in those expensive clothes, amazing hair, and gorgeous faces, were models, not role models. They dressed up for a living, to sell an idea, a fashion, or a concept. But they can not truly give us the in-depth view it requires to examine the entirety of who we are and why we are.
Many of those SUPER MODELS fight with insecurities of huge magnitude. Struggling with negative thoughts and feelings about themselves. What we see on the page, often times doesn't reflect what is underneath.
2. I had to be willing to acknowledge the defects that I carried within. Those things that I had done to hurt myself, and others, as well as those things that others had done to hurt me, that eventually fed me a lie about what I had to do to matter.
There was no amount of dressing up that could cover up those realities for me. I heard some one say once, "Healing can't take place for something that you can't even speak". For some we show our hurt on the outside in ways that deflect from the real pain within, while neglecting the inward soul and character.
3. I had to invest in the healing and building of who I was on the inside, in order for the outside to shine like Gold. When someone is truly their best, it doesn't come from the clothes they wear. Our best shines from our attitudes, from our hearts that make the outside beautiful. Far more beautiful than clothing, but a joy, happiness and freedom from hurts, pains and wrongs that taint our peace of mind and ability to shine like Gold.
God isn't concerned only about the outer cover, but He also wants us to be covered within. He can't put something clean, Holy and Good in a unclean, uncovered vessel. It won't keep it, protect it, preserve it. The ark was a place where the commandments would rest, and be protected. The Commandments were a written view of the much broader spectrum of God and His character. They were identify giving, purpose filled and LIFE. They must be protected, and cherished. He needed the entire vessel to be covered within and without.
I see my life in Exodus 25:10, examining the beauty of the picture He gives in this passage. He could have had them make the entire vessel of Gold, but He didn't. He took Acacia Wood, something that corrodes, that's vulnerable and scarred from years of wear, growth, and told them to instead cover it, inside and out, with pure Gold. I asked myself why would He do such a thing? But then I saw myself in that ark. A piece of flesh, vulnerable, cut and bruised from years of growth, and daily corroding. Yet, God sees fit to take my life, as I willingly give it, and cover me with His righteousness. Changing me, molding me, shaping me, protecting me, preserving me. Presenting me faultless, and then entrusts me to put something precious and priceless within. Knowing because I am covered by Him, it is protected, safe and pure. Not because I am able, but because underneath the gold is flawed wood, that at the flick of a match, I would be consumed and burned. But if I am covered by His GOLD, when the fire comes, I am only purified and made more perfect and more beautiful.
At some point in life, it clicked, I can't really say when it did, but I just know it did. The "Dress Up" was nothing but a Cover Up, and was revealed to be a lie. Instead I discovered the value far more greater than a pair of shoes, purse or clothing of any kind could give. It was the beauty that shines through from taking care of the inside first. Acknowledging my brokenness and seeking the healing to be whole and healthy, so that I can live my best life. Helping me to love right, myself and others, and pass that on to my own children. The insides shines out, not the other way around.
2 Corinthians 13:5, "Keep examining yourselves to see whether you are continuing in the faith. Test yourselves! You know, don’t you, that Jesus the Messiah lives in you? Could it be that you are failing the test?" - (ISV)
Job 23:10, "But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."