what do you wear?

elizabeth gentry

I am sitting in a crowded café, bustling with life.  I came and sat down with the intention to get some much-needed work done, but I find myself distracted…


I find myself distracted by all the lives and stories and lights that surround me.


People from all different backgrounds, with all different faiths, and all different belief systems have come together for the same reason: food and fellowship.


Some eat in silence while others laugh loudly and fully with their companions.  I appear to be the only one here alone.  An older couple sits straight ahead of me, hardly talking but obviously content.  The wife wears a jacket with a children’s hospital emblem on it— she’s a volunteer.  A nurturer by trade. Yet she appears indifferent.  He is indifferent to her, and she to him.  Content, but not happy.  Invested, but only as far as what leaves their indifference unbothered.


Also in line with my vision is a seven-month-old baby that captivates an entire table. The mother is smiling and inviting, but it seems as if her confidence is lacking.  She is a beautiful woman with a glowing countenance, but she doesn’t seem to know fully how valuable she is.  Despite that, she gives off a light and life that only comes with a fullness of joy.  She is joyful.


Workers circle the area, checking on tables and dropping off food.  One of the workers is here nearly every time that I come in; she is a young girl, probably still in high school or freshly graduated.  Her eyes lack sparkle and dully rest behind her mask.  She wears sadness more predominantly than anything else.


Joy, sadness, indifference… the emotions all parade themselves before me.  


Who knows their lives or their stories or their dreams?  Who knows who has failed them or what has let them down?  Who knows what they’ve overcome to be joyful or to be indifferent— who knows what they’ve had to overcome even to have the opportunity to be sad?


Life marks us all.  Sometimes it marks us full of joy and sometimes it marks us with sadness.


In watching others, I am humbled.  What do people see when they see me?  Do they see indifference?  Do they see sadness and bitter pain from a life lived in poverty?  Or do they see joy?  Do they see fullness and life and happiness within?  Am I clothed in Christ?


When people look at me, do I appear insecure or do I radiate peace in who I am and confidence in how I was made?  Do I look the way that I feel?


More importantly, when people look at me, do they see me clinging to the steadfast hope of Christ? When I wear joy, is it obvious it comes from the Father? When my heart bears sadness, does my face look like the promise of the good that is coming?  Do I ever look complacent?  Does my face ever wear indifference?


I will likely never see any of these people again.  Most of them probably didn’t notice me anyways.  But to those who did, what did they notice?  What does my face say to a stranger? What do I have to offer them?


I go through the rest of the day hoping that those who interact with me, those who see my face at every passing light and those who see me seated across from them in a crowded cafe would know joy.  My prayer is that the love of the Lord would so brilliantly shine through me that others would know His radiance just by encountering mine.  My prayer is that I do not just possess joy, but rather, that I am joy.


So that leaves me with a question: what do you wear?


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