She Met Me Where I Was

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on August 31, 2010

It was 1999. I was twenty years old and sitting in a hotel room at a spa in Calistoga, California. I no longer viewed Christianity and Christians with derision (a recent development due solely to my having fallen in love with a boy who held such things in high esteem), but I still could not see how it or they were remotely applicable to my life.

While absentmindedly flipping through the channels of the hotel room television I happened upon an adorably dressed Rockabilly chick. She was seated in a nondescript room talking about something with some guy. The substance of their conversation is not what caught my attention, though. Truth be told, it was her trendy clothes and cute hairstyle that prompted me to pause on that particular channel.

Only after I’d spent a few moments appreciating her style did I start to listen in on the conversation she was having. I was shocked to discover that she was talking about her Christian faith! Who was this girl? No girl I’d ever known who looked like this had anything but disdain for such things. My interest having been piqued, I listened more closely.

She fascinated me with her reflections on pain and redemption, suffering and joy, sin and conversion. I was intrigued, if not yet sold. I finished the program and returned to the pool. As stimulating as I’d found her and her thoughts to be I didn’t spend much time thinking about them after turning off the television set. I was simply not ready to wrestle with such truths.

Her image stayed with me, though. It buried itself somewhere deep within the recesses of my mind. It would not reveal itself again until years later when it would become but a tiny piece of the puzzle that led to my own conversion. Tiny, yes, but hugely significant.

You see, she met me where I was.

Conversion comes without the gnashing of teeth to very few. Even after the truth is mercifully revealed to us converts we still must battle against that part of ourselves that holds on so desperately to the things we held dear in our former life:

I don’t want to give up my vision of the future which I so painstakingly crafted over the last however-many years.

I don’t want to give up sexual autonomy and selfishness, materialism and control.

I don’t want to give up my identity to become more like Him.

But, of course, giving up our identity is not what He asks of us. Yes, we are called to constant conversion. We are, in fact, called to become Christ-like, but we are not called to jettison our personalities. God is endlessly creative. He made each one of us unique. He delights in our differences.

Through the expression of her individuality, the girl I saw on the television that day showed me that I could become a Christian and still be me. Indeed, I would have to surrender many worldly things and sacrifice much, but I could still be me. My view of the world and my understanding of my place in it might radically change, but I could still be me.

I needed to know that. I needed to see that to be open to conversion.

The Church has a beautiful, powerful tradition of venerating individuals who sold their every possession, donned sackcloth and ashes and embraced a life of penance. These people inspire me and encourage me to greater heights of sacrifice and purification. But we are not all called to this sort of life. In fact, most of us aren’t. Most of us are called to live in the world, repent quietly, and evangelize gently.

Never let anyone convince you that expressing yourself artistically, through fashion and the like, must result in an indulgence of your vanity. God has not made renouncing simple pleasures such as these a prerequisite for holiness. Being “the light of the world” and “a city set on a mountain that cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14) does not require you to dress in drab, shapeless garments so that all with whom you come into contact will recognize you as different from the rest. The peace and joy of Christ that shines through you will be all the evidence they need to know that you possess an unearthly treasure.

Embrace your uniqueness. It was God who gave you your preferences and passions. He gave them to you for a reason. Perhaps His sole motive was simply to allow you to delight in temporal things during this short life. In all likelihood, though, He intends to use those things for an even greater end.

Perhaps you, too, will catch the eye of a curious young girl who will recognize something in you that reminds her a bit of herself and that glimmer of recognition will open her heart just a little. Would it be too much to hope she would hightail it to the nearest church and demand to be baptized on the spot? Maybe. Nevertheless, your image will likely stick with her. You may end up playing a more profound role in leading her to Christ than you ever could have imagined as you were slipping into your favorite dress that morning.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Arwen August 31, 2010 at 3:04 am

I absolutely love this post. You hit the nail on the head!

Jen Ambrose August 31, 2010 at 3:25 am

Fantastic!

Kate Wicker @ Momopoly August 31, 2010 at 3:37 am

Wow. This is incredible.

mrsdarwin August 31, 2010 at 3:44 am

Did you ever find out who it was or what show you were watching?

Atlanta August 31, 2010 at 4:14 am

Very encouraging! Thank you so much!

Dorian Speed August 31, 2010 at 4:24 am

Excellent post. Even though I saw the title and thought you'd be announcing the arrival of a daughter, who met you where you were…like, in the car, birthin' a baby, or something.

As you were.

Anna August 31, 2010 at 4:26 am

You have a rare gift. Thank you for sharing it with me tonight.

Kristen @ St Monica's Bridge August 31, 2010 at 10:22 am

For those of us who never converted who were there "from the cradle" this is important to remember. Thank you for this story.

MicheleQ August 31, 2010 at 11:55 am

Hallie,

Our RCIA classes start tonight. I'm printing this article for reference –beautifully said!

Melanie B August 31, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Well said!

I've never been all that interested in cute clothes and makeup and the like. I'm too lazy and just can't bring myself to care most days. And when I do care… well, I still don't have a good eye or the ability to find just the right thing in the stores. But I appreciate those who can and do dress well and I often wish I had the knack. I know I don't represent very well dressed in whatever I threw on; but for me comfort is king when I get dressed in the morning. So kudos to you and all the well-dressed ladies who manage to look good while serving the Lord! And good for you, Hallie, in being unashamed of who you are. I wouldn't want you any other way.

Sarah August 31, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Such an important message for Christian women. And you articulated it beautifully.

BettyDuffy August 31, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Ditto everyone else. Great post.

fairly frumpy September 1, 2010 at 12:46 am

Your post seems to say it better than some other writings I've seen on the subject. I think there's something in between sackcloth and ashes and stylish, but there are so many opinions expressed along the lines that women living in the world can't be good witnesses without being "fashionable"? No, I just don't agree. It seems pretty clear that *I'm* not here right now to draw someone in by the fact that she's interested in the rockabilly chick look and not so much in Christianity (yet) — but I'm glad there was someone who had that place in your life! Only the most basics about appearance can be prioritized in my circumstances right now and that has to be true for many others.

Elizabeth@GoodnessAdded September 1, 2010 at 4:11 am

I really love this post. I sometimes worry I am not pious enough because I enjoy things like fashion that others find frivolous. I love your reminder to be true to who we are.
Your story reminded me of this kid I knew when I was working with a youth group. Totally punked out – dyed hair, black clothes, hardware jewelry – he was the nicest kid and very devoted to the church. You wouldn't have guessed that looking at him. Perhaps someone else can relate to him.

Martha September 1, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I know this isn't 'Ask Betty,' but I'm wondering if you could give me a bit of fashion advice. I've read your blog for a while, and think you have fabulous taste. So here's my question, should you have the time/inclination to answer. I live in MN, so, baby, it's cold outside in the winter, and I will be sporting a pretty big baby bump come snowfly. I've purchased some really cute maternity dresses, some are long and inappropriately warm weather-ish, some just past the knee (short sweaterdresses, go figure), and I'm wondering if you have any thoughts for cute, proper winter footwear that would still look as nice as the dresses. Normally I'd immediately jump for the knee high, high heeled boots, but I am a clutz when preggs, and the baby would definitely be in imminent danger. What kind of boots would you recommend that would look fab, and yet be appropriate? I can be remarkably fashionable, and still ruin it with a horrible choice in footwear, so I come to you!

Thanks for your time; Blessings with the end-of-days and birth!

Justine September 1, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Thanks for sharing your reflections! As a cradle Catholic who has never struggled with her faith (God got me young because he knew I would be too lazy to look for him later) I appreciate being reminded to keep reaching out to non-Christians, because you never know who God is calling to be a Betty Beguiles.

Pat Gohn September 5, 2010 at 2:38 am

Game. Set. Match.

Well played!

Amy September 5, 2010 at 7:38 am

Good post.

Here visiting from EE's Saturday blog carnival.

Amy September 8, 2010 at 8:00 pm

I love this post so much! I get concerned about how much I love fashion. I needed this perspective. Thank you so much.

Hope September 9, 2010 at 3:11 am

Being one's self is probably harder than trying to be someone else. As a convert I really liked this post. It took me a long time to be comfortable being myself. And took a long time to loosen what I thought a Christian might look like, say and do. Or not look like, say and do, too!

Kate August 28, 2013 at 9:23 am

Hallie! I venture here years late because Calah just linked to this post. I just want to say how inspiring it was to read this. To think about pursuing passions BECAUSE God delights in our differences is so exciting and ennobling.
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