Once a year, Special Meeting happened, a gathering of all the local house churches. It was a big deal, anticipated for weeks. We really looked forward to showing off a new dress more than the long morning and afternoon sessions.
Typically, the Friday night before, we would either be frantically sewing or shopping for the perfect dress. I usually needed to sew mine as cheaply as possible, while trying to disguise the fact. It was always obvious the next day in my insecurity that it didn't compare well.
We compared each other from the top of our heads to the bottom of our feet, then felt dowdy and neglected or noticed and gorgeous. It only took one look, one encounter for the verdict.
The new dress seemed pivotal to success. Successful at attracting attention from guys and approval along with envy from the girls.
It took me years to realize that it never was the dress, but my shame, insecurity, shyness, introversion and the fact that maybe my body hadn't begun to release pheromones yet. I was a late, late bloomer! Very late, which ultimately saved me for Craig. Thankfully!
This particular year was the year I learned firsthand about cutthroat ruthlessness. Even though I knew it would be necessary to once again sew my dress, window shopping became irresistible. Not only did I look, I went in, touched and tried on several. Finally, the perfect dress made me gasp in delight as I looked in the mirror in the dressing room. It was the softest fabric, hanging like a dream and fitting me like it was made for me. It was simple, understated yet elegant. The royal blue and black pattern trimmed with a touch of white was unusual and set off my thick pile of black hair and green eyes. As I hung it back on it's hanger and left it on the rack, I couldn't help but cry in disappointment.
When my roommates came home, I regaled them with the details of this perfect dress, describing what store, what rack, which mall. I wonder if I wanted them to surprise me?
My roommates' ruthless little sister listened intently and quietly left.
Next morning, putting the finishing touches on my dress, which in comparison seemed ugly, I dressed for Special Meeting. While trying to make an inconspicuous entrance, across the room, RUTHLESS came waltzing towards me in MY DRESS! She was about 6 sizes smaller than me, looked undeniably stunning and confident. She enthusiastically complimented me as her lip scrunched and her nose curled. Her words didn't match her face as she pitifully looked me up and down, preening all the while. This might not have been exactly how it went, but it was my perception and it felt real! My brain imploded loudly, my heart needed resuscitated with some nitroglycerin and a paper bag to hyperventilate into would have been nice. Somehow I pasted a false smile on the fragments of my cut up ego that had scattered all over the floor.
I knew without a doubt that it was about competition, with a winner and a loser. I felt betrayed by a friend. We both lost. I quit playing the game sometime after that, becoming a dowdy, granola slob, not realizing that prideful humility is an oxymoron and is just as ugly as ruthless arrogance.
Looking back from a distance and seeing where each of our lives have taken us, I wouldn't trade mine in for her's or anyone's! Through every single experience ~ good, bad, hard, easy, hurtful, sweet or harmful ~ I'm so thankful for how life is turning out. I LOVE my life! How my young, unpromising adult life started out is surprisingly different from how things are playing out now. And when I push the fast forward button, I have even greater hope and expectancy. I might need to wear shades for the brightness.
Ruthlessness on the part of another human being can't rob us of being highly favored, approved of, delighted in, accepted, chosen and blessed. What a relief.