When I was in college I did several stints working retail at a couple of upscale department stores. I always think about my experiences working at those stores at this time of year because of all of the hoopla surrounding shopping and such. And aside from the fact that I think everyone should work retail at least once in their life because it helps give someone an appreciation of the person on the other side of the counter, I wanted to share with you the most important lesson I learned from those experiences. The more we expose ourselves to something, the more likely we are to embrace that thing, whatever that thing may be.
Now I'm generalizing a bit, but I don't think I'm wrong to do so. Let me tell you about a certain black leopard print dress. When my co-workers and I were asked to unpack and hang a certain collection of dresses that had come in, we spent the entire time making fun of it. It was ugly... particularly one black and white knit leopard print, long-sleeved, very tightly cut, turtle neck dress. Really, we asked ourselves, who would buy this dress. And to top it off, it was really expensive.
That was at the beginning of summer. (The question of why the store was selling a long-sleeved turtle neck dress in the desert in the summer is another question entirely.) I was working full-time and spent a lot of time looking at that dress; trying to sell that dress; putting that dress back on the rack. I even sold a few of them. And you know what? I began to like the dress. I didn't hate it anymore. I began to think that perhaps I might even try the dress on.
By the end of summer, when the dress was marked down a bit, I bought the dress. (You knew that was coming, didn't you?) In the course of less than three months I went from laughing at the dress to actually purchasing the dress, all because I spent three months looking at it. Now, you might be tempted to say that it wasn't just being surrounded with the dress that caused my attitude to change, but that the dress was not actually as laughable as I first thought it to be. I can pretty safely assure you that it really was that laughable, because I need to tell you the rest of the story.
So I now owned this dress. At first I was pretty excited, but didn't wear it because the appropriate occasions for such a dress are few. I went back to school and the dress went with me. I graduated from school and the dress moved with me. I got married and the dress moved with me. And do you want to know how many times I actually wore that dress? Probably just two or three and they were all occasions of the costume variety. I finally got rid of it after M. was born and my body shape had changed just enough that it would not be quite as flattering (if it ever really was) as it had been.
I knew fairly soon after quitting my department store job that the dress was a laughable mistake. All it took was a few weeks out of the department store environment to make that clear to me. It was as if I was waking up from a dream and I looked at the dress and thought, "What on earth was I thinking?!"
While I regret having spent the money on the silly dress, I don't regret the lesson I learned. It is very easy to be influenced by your environment. What you spend your time looking at and thinking about is what is going to become important to you. So be careful what you surround yourself with. Once again, the Bible has it right. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (Philippians 4:8) And the reason we are admonished to think on the honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, and excellent is that the inverse is also true: the more we think about the vain, foolish, and ugly, the more we begin to value these things...until we buy into them completely.
Continuing to advocate for the children in Bulgaria. Their files were sent back which means that they cannot be advocated for on Reese's Rainbow or have any funds donated towards their adoptions. It means they are essentially invisible and unwanted. It tells the government and the agencies that yes, indeed, their initial assumptions were correct. No one wants a child like these. They are not worth it.
But they are! They are created by God in His image and we are called to care for them. They are truly the least of these. I cannot let them go; I think about them in nearly every free moment that I have. I'm going to post one of their pictures here at the bottom of each of my posts each day. Would you join me in praying for each of these children? Pray that a family would come forward who is willing to adopt them. Love them. Pray that they will know they are not forgotten? There is still hope for these little ones as their files can be specially asked for, it just adds time to the process.
This is Brandi. She is 6 years old. She lies in her crib and waits and waits and waits for someone to scoop her up and tell her how loved she is. Just imagine a grin on her face, her hair allowed to grow out. Imagine how transformed she will look when she is loved. Pray that she doesn't have to wait too much longer for her parents to find her.