One summer night, I was in the mood for some sesame chicken. I asked my sister to take me down the street to the Chinese buffet for to-go food. As we were driving, I felt a need to discuss an issue with my older sister that had been cultivating in the back of my mind.
“I think I should start dating soon. What do you think?” I asked foolishly, looking for a comforting answer. I forgot that comfort is not my sister’s strong point.
“Really? I just thought you were a lesbian the entire time,” she responded.
At first I thought this was about as bad as it could get. I was wrong.
“What made you think that?” I asked with some sort of delusional hope.
“You dress like a dude, you talk like a dude, you have never flirted with a guy and a guy has never flirted with you. And all of your friends are girls. I just thought you were afraid to tell Mom and Dad.”
To put this statement in context, you should know that my parents are pastors.
After I got my food and returned to the car, my sister continued her evaluation. She informed me that I do not talk enough like a girl, it wouldn’t hurt me to wear some makeup and I could get a date if I wore better clothes.
The sesame chicken tasted bad that night.
At first I thought my sister’s words were harsh, but then I thought maybe I was being a little too sensitive. I thought this was just my sister’s view, but as I asked other people their opinions, I was given the same response in a roundabout way. “I thought you were a lesbian … Well, a little make-up wouldn’t hurt you.”
I decided maybe I should take this seriously so I submitted myself to my sister’s will.
I entered boot camp that summer. I bought new clothes that were not baggy but more fitted. I bought new shoes because flats are not sexy, but heels are the hottest thing a woman can wear. It took me three and a half hours to say a heartfelt goodbye to my favorite pair of flats that I bought from Payless. I had my eyebrows arched and I learned how to put on makeup. I am sure I fractured my eye five times trying to apply mascara.
Finally it was time for people to see me. When people at church saw my improved femininity, they showered me with compliments. “I am glad you started wearing makeup,” “You should wear heels more often,” “You look so much better now,” and my personal favorite: “You look like a lady now.”
Every compliment felt like a stone being thrown at everything I thought formed who I was. The makeup started to feel like a mask of bronze instead of lightweight powder foundation. I quickly realized I felt incredibly uncomfortable in this makeshift skin. I was not offended by my sister’s comments. She was just trying to help me, but I decided it was time to ask the opinion of someone I had ignored through this entire process.
I went to my mom and laid out my emotions and personal disappointments to her. She simply stated without hesitation, “when it is your time, it will be your time. But until then, if I were you, I would enjoy it not being my time.”
I still do not know how my mom made the answer sound so simple. I had been worrying about my future spouse and 2.5 kids so much I had forgotten to live in the present. I was letting precious moments slip away. My mom reminded me that, whether single or married, God still has a plan for my life, and worrying so much over one aspect of my life was a distraction from that. Given this revelation I quickly said hello again to my flats from Payless, returned to my beautiful jeans and allowed the makeup to be a dust collector.