Years ago, I was a broke kid trying to pass myself off as an adult in my first office job. I was very insecure about everything. I had no problem picking up the actual work and I was excellent at my job. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I stood out like a sore thumb. I was the youngest in the office by far, and since I’ve always looked much younger than I really am I felt like a 15 year-old amongst 30-somethings.
One of my most stressful insecurities concerned my wardrobe. Prior to this gig, my wardrobe consisted almost entirely of jeans and t-shirts, plus a load of scrubs from a year stint working at the hospital. I did the best I could to put together a business casual wardrobe with my limited funds, which meant that the majority of the items I purchased were quite cheap & didn’t last very long.
One day, I was wearing a skirt that I had just bought, worn, and washed once. It was cute, but was incredibly frustrating as the trim at the waist had immediately begun unraveling in 3 separate spots. I secured it the best I could with safety pins, threw on a shirt that would cover the whole mess, and went in to work. At some point during the day I was back in the file room with one of my coworkers when she complimented me on my skirt. Embarrassed about how cheap the thing was, I lifted my shirt enough to show her how badly the thing had become unraveled. She said, “Oh, don’t worry about that,” and lifted her shirt enough to show me that her skirt, too, was being held together by safety pins.
Of late, I’ve been much more consciously working on creating positive inner monologues during my morning commute. This morning, I touched on fear and how I tend to create a persona to keep others from getting too close and seeing how vulnerable I really am. My visual representation of this feeling (as my inner monologues are often more visual than auditory) is always that of a little kitten puffing herself up to lash out at a big, curious dog. I recalled the story of my unraveling skirt and reminded myself that I don’t need to fear showing people my vulnerable spots because they, too, are vulnerable despite how put together they look on the outside.
I often recall this memory in an attempt to assuage my fears and allow people to get close. This morning, however, the images of the scared kitten and the unraveled skirt were met with a Biblical one. I pictured Jesus showing Thomas the scars in His hands after His resurrection. I’d never looked at this story from that perspective before, but it was so helpful! Generally, we study this story through the lens of “Doubting Thomas” needing physical proof that this was actually his Lord and Savior risen from the dead. I, too, have a desire for physical proof, so I’ve never liked the way Thomas is often derided for lacking faith. Maybe that’s not the only way we can read that story, though.
When I took another look at the interaction between Jesus and Thomas this morning, I didn’t see a man thinking he was being tricked by someone in a Jesus costume. What I saw was a man afraid of his own human failings. I saw Thomas feeling inadequate next to the Man who was once his good friend. But Jesus said “Oh no, you don’t need to worry about that,” and showed Thomas how He, too, was imperfect in the eyes of the world. I picture Thomas afraid to show his unraveling skirt, but Jesus beats him to the punch by pulling aside His shirt to show where He’s unraveling, too. This morning, I saw the action as Jesus choosing to reveal His scars so that he can connect with love instead of acting all high and mighty, pretending they’re not there so that he can save face.
I’m no theologian or Biblical scholar, so I could be radically wrong by these standards. However, it felt true to me this morning and provided me a lot of comfort, allowing me to normalize and dissipate my fears. I am unraveled in spots, but that is how I connect with love.