On Thursday I presented a verbatim, a write-up, of an encounter with a child at the hospital. She was getting to go home and as I walked by her room, I was invited in by her smile – a welcoming, pink lip-sticked and glossed smile that begged me to come say hi. A smile that big and that bright is a precious commodity ’round these parts, so I went in to say “hi.” My verbatim was less about her and more about me.
I talked about how this little girl reminded me of my youngest sister – in her bubbly personality and in her lip care. My sister had called me the other day to tell me that these days, she’s going for a bold, red lip. I was thinking a lot of her during this encounter and during my reflection.
I tried to pull of red lipstick once: the first time I preached. Elizabeth had worn red heels but I preach barefoot so it was gonna be red lipstick until I got on campus. I took it off before getting out of my car.
“Are you sometimes afraid to be yourself?” A peer asked me. “Yes,” I said “When are you most afraid to be yourself?” He pressed. “I’m wondering why you took off the lipstick before preaching.”
Gah! Follow-up questions!?
“I’m most afraid to be myself when I’m in a performance-based situation.” I said. And it’s true – but as I reflected more in the days after my presentation, I realize now why I took the lipstick off.
I didn’t deserve to wear red lipstick.
Red. The color of power. The color of authority, of passion, of boldness. That day, I was none of those things. That day, I was a painfully shy, insecure seminarian who was being forced to preach in front of peers and professor, or else. I didn’t deserve to wear red lipstick. Thankfully, a call to preach I didn’t know was mine until that day convinced me that I do.
Today, I’m a minister, a pastor, a chaplain, a CPE student.
And these days, I’m going for a bold, red lip.