If you're single and unattached at 30, I'm sure you've experienced being scrutinized at some point by well-meaning friends who want to increase your marketability (read: sex appeal). I was the subject of such a conversation earlier in the office. When the boss is away...
My officemates have always been befuddled at my uncanny ability to intimidate men and/or to shun their unwanted attention, or so they say. Some of my friends have shot down my list of essentials and preferences, with comments ranging from "Superman is already taken" to "Only a saint could match your expectations" and to "Better prepare for single life; NO ONE can match your standards". I have prayed about my list of essentials and preferences after months of discernment so I am not about to budge, unless God tells me so in clear and unequivocal language.
The topic during our coffee break was my visual impact, apparently. My bombshell of an officemate suggested I wear deeper necklines and to accessorize, accessorize, accessorize! She is frustrated at my refusal to buy chunky earrings and audacious necklaces, but I told her that those accessories hardly match my personality and environment. Another officemate was bolder in his assessment of what I needed in order to improve my prospects of dating - he insists on me wearing micro-minis and to ditch my suits. He is much younger than me so I managed to think that he said that more for my benefit than his visual feast. He even had the gall to ask me why I loved to wear suits! My closest friend in the office came to the rescue and said, "She's a lawyer and she's required to wear suits, you moron!" Okay, she didn't quite use that exact language but I was this close to saying that. Thankfully I was able to stop myself as I'm giving a talk on Proper Speech to Lingkod this coming weekend. I had to practice what I preach.
I made a graceful exit from the conference room and returned to my cubicle to think. Why was I so stubborn? Why couldn't I listen to those love gurus whose avowed common project was to find me a boyfriend? I appreciated all their efforts but could not take their advice if I were to remain true to myself. Of course finding The One is a project I would love to undertake but I have come to realize that my standards are no longer of this world. My time frame is no longer bound by impatience. My body clock has finally been surrendered to the Lord.
Manang. Laon. Old maid. Bridget Jones. Ally McBeal. Clerk of Court (private office joke, but clue - ejusdem generis). I've heard all sorts of titles and I'm not so affected anymore. If being myself, growing in faith and confidence, and fixing my eyes on an eternal perspective have placed me in a league of my own, sui generis, then so be it. Maybe it's not yet time. Maybe the man who would appreciate me for who I am - toned-down jewelry, decent skirt length, matchless passion and wit (could NOT resist! hehe) and all - is still being pruned and formed by God. I am not anxious... anymore. :)
I was able to compare this indifferent feeling that I had towards my officemates' beauty tips with how I felt recently while talking to one of my elders in Lingkod. We were discussing formation courses that I had not yet taken and I immediately signed up for the Joy of Discovery (not Discovery Weekend... yet!) series that they would conduct next week. Everytime I speak to her, I would find myself striving to know more of how to grow in character and maturity. Same goes with my spiritual directress; whenever she would give me three-page assignments for my spiritual formation, I would get excited and spend at least an hour a day praying and working on them. Lalo na whenever I talk to my father confessor and to my other priest-friends, I take their advice to heart and munch on their words for days on end. When I talk to gifted speakers, musicians, writers, pastors and leaders who serve the Lord, I make mental term papers (and not just mental notes) in order to follow their example and channel my endowments expertly like they have.
I do not want to alienate my officemates and friends but really, I have metamorphosed. All the experts I want to listen to at this point are those who would lead me closer to being attractive, marketable and pleasing to One Man: Jesus Christ! Of course I still pay attention to my looks, and I have been labeled kikay and vain in the past, but what really motivates me now and consumes my waking moments is my process of yielding to God's will.
Langit lang ang destinasyon, my non-community friends warn me when they think I've gone to one too many retreats in one year. Yes, I want to reach heaven but it would not hurt; nay, it would glorify my Maker if I also fulfill my mission and my purpose here on earth. The process is painful, just like any period of pruning and morphing. In the expert hands of the Lord and in His loving gaze, however, I willingly and happily yield. Or would like to try to. ;)
What on earth am I here for? Rick Warren asked. Contemplating my Life Purpose, I found out that it does not involve adorning myself like a Christmas tree. In fact I have discovered that the less dazzling I appear on the outside, the more spectacular I feel on the inside.
When I was installed as Branch Women's Moderator in June 27, 2003, the following passage was read from 1 Tim 2 (RSV):
9 also that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire 10 but by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness.
I am learning from my own set of beauty experts as well, from those who would prepare me for my call to let go of all earthly attachments and to "go on mission". I have quite a long way to go, but it starts now. In Iloilo, the Lord spoke:
You received without paying, give without pay. Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the laborer deserves his food. (Matt 10:9-10, RSV)
And thus this disciple was called. Now, as to how to explain this during coffee break in the conference room without sounding preachy, I ask for the inner grace and beauty to handle that. In His perfect time.