It was never all that fast, but it was quick. Nimble. That body could run forever and lift anything. It could bend any which way, needed very little rest, and no matter what I did, it bounced right back. It just was. Because of it I rode bikes, swam in rivers, climbed mountains. I ran, tackled, punched and got hit right back. That body was fantastic.
That body was 18 years old. But looking in the mirror today, I saw something else.
Looking in the mirror today, I saw God.
God's influence is not in the tie I earned, those perfect shoes, or even in that once fantastic body. I saw God right at the moment when I realized I had tied the perfect half Windsor. I began to swell with pride. I began to become full of myself. Then I stepped back and saw how my midsection had swelled and the results of filling my plate 100 times too many. I came crashing right back down like Icarus.
To me, that was God's influence.
It was the same influence that kept that perfect body wearing the wrong clothes and wracked with insecurity. That perfect body could never find the perfect hair product, or even the right haircut. It wore knock-off brands and could never quite figure out what was going wrong.
I have finally found the right haircut, but it has come complete with nose and ear hair, too.
Such is the justice of God.
It is God's influence because it keeps me grounded in reality. Real. Like God.
Real like spare tires and zits. Real like sports cars and divorces, bankruptcy and the birth of your first child. Real, like important things.
Now do not get me wrong, my health is important, and how I dress can greatly affect how I am treated by the world, and therefore influence how effectively I function in that world. But oh, how easily am I distracted by myself. My tastes, my ideas, my hopes and my soul-crushing insecurities. How easy is it for me to forget that I am not more important than you, and how one look should not influence how I feel about you. Looks can be either an expression of self or a distraction from truth, and I cannot tell which is which from just looking. Neither can you.
Not that beauty is bad. I love line shapes and color, in nature, in art, in people. I love it in me and in you and in them. But getting in too deep is like eating nothing but the frosting off a cake. It is wonderful, but your teeth will eventually hurt and your sugar high will come down. Frosting has no substance without the cake.
Dessert can be damaging without the meal.
My big, round belly beneath a perfect half Windsor knot reminded me of that meal.
God didn’t curse me with fat. I did that. What God has done is bless me with a reminder that paint needs to be spread on canvas to mean anything.
My perfect shoes are stupid unless my feet are standing in the right place. The break in my pant leg is invisible unless I stand up. The perfect hair product is pointless if my head is empty.
On the other hand, making the mistake of matching your pocket square perfectly with your tie and not your shirt is less important than whether or not that handkerchief is over a heart filled with hope.
That being said, your pocket square should match your shirt if it is going to match anything at all. I didn’t know that until after I got fat.
Dalyn Montgomery has a masters in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania and works in college admissions. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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