The thrift store is quiet for a Saturday morning. Sometimes I find myself here moving through narrow walkways of varying textures, styles, and fashions. I imagine the person who first wore the pieces which now speak to my style. Perhaps she was a redhead who tucked her hair neatly upon her nape. Did she have an adventurous spirit or was she reserved and content with her lot? Maybe she had her first kiss in this dress… or perhaps her last.
I make my way to the back of the store where the breakables are kept from rambunctious and curious children. On either side of me, stacked rows showcase cake plates, wine glasses and bone china teacups, vintage white milk glass vases, and other wares. I select an antique plumb dish and trace my fingertips around the smooth rim like a record on a turntable.
I barely notice her – a small child staked quietly by her mother’s side. The mother pushes a large shopping cart filled with winter clothes while the daughter looks around as one stepping into a stranger’s home. The woman stops and picks up a patterned plate of blue and white. The scene held in her hands is of a lush landscape with rolling hills. I can tell by the woman’s stillness that she has left herself to the better part of her imagination, if just for a moment.
As I return the plumb dish to the empty space on the shelf, I am startled by the small child’s voice. She had moved away from her mother, now standing at the end of the aisle.
“Aah!” she exclaims with a bounce.
Her joy is so sincere that I find myself smiling before I turn around. In looking at her, I guess she is about five years of age. Her white sundress is out of season and too small, and I begin to think of the clothes in the cart: winter clothes for this child. Her appearance is clean but worn… just like her young mother.
“Mamma!” The child passes me; her eyes fixed ahead. “Mamma! Look!”
As she goes by, I cannot help but think I am in the presence of a true princess. Her smile is as bold as her confidence. She radiates joy.
The mother puts back the patterned plate and tries to make out the cause of her daughter’s excitement. “What? What is it?”
“I forgot how pretty I am until I saw myself.” The young girl beams. “You try!” She reaches up and holds high an oval lady’s Victorian hand mirror.
Taking the mirror from the child, the young mother looks at the casing adorned with molded flowers and budding vines, dainty and soft. Turning it over, she sighs into the beveled mirror. Inspecting her reflection, she says, “All I see is how tired I am.” She hands the mirror back to her daughter.
The daughter looks once more into the mirror. “Yeah,” she pauses. “I look tired too,” she says in a drained tone before placing the mirror back on the shelf. Her beam dulls, and once again the child forgets she is pretty.
The pair moves along, down the aisle and out of sight. For some reason, I seek out the hand mirror. What will I see if I look? I think to myself. And why am I drawn to such a desire?
The mirror is lovely and has an unexpected weightiness: both strong and gentle. I look at myself in a way time usually doesn’t permit. I see a girl and a woman… a child’s eyes positioned on a wrinkled face. I see me in all my ages, stages, failures and victories. Why am I tearing up? I remain still, leaving myself to the better part of my imagination, if just for a moment. And in this moment, I recognize a feeling which has existed longer than myself… longer than time. Acceptance.
Beyond my many imperfections, I see a child of God. And yet, so often I get myself out of focus and choose to see an imperfect girl who is less than - less than His. Scrutinizing myself to the point of dullness, I forget Whose I am.
Making my way to the front of the store, I see the young child once more. She stands still as her mother leans a sweater dress upon her small frame to check the fit.
“You are so lovely,” I tell her. “A true princess.”
I notice she rises upon her toes as an energy surges through the whole of her body. I recognize this energy as joy - the same joy I saw within her as she passed me with the mirror.
“I am a princess! I am!”
“Yes, you are,” I reply. As I leave the store, I hear my own voice whisper to myself, “And so am I.”
May we not dull Christ Jesus in us by choosing to focus on things and thoughts which rob us of the joy He gives. And may we see God’s grace and love more than our imperfections when we inspect our lives.
Never forget how loved you are by a savior who gave all to love you.
“I forgot how pretty I am until I saw myself.” The young girl beams. “You try!”
SGLY, dear reader.
(Smile, God Loves You.)
Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian Author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier, Instagram:@tiffanysgly, and Twitter: @tiffanychartier.