April 28, 2012

on cheetah prints

John likes to listen to Focus on the Family. It's pretty cute, if you ask me. Anyhow, we were listening one night and the guest speaker was talking about modesty and her teenage girls. She said shopping was really hard and sometimes there were tears shed by them all in the dressing room. I kind of laughed and breathed a small sigh of relief that I would not have to deal with that. 

Fast forward a few weeks. I was taking a 13-year-old girl, Ashley, shopping for a dress and shoes for her junior high graduation(We met her family through the after school reading program; she lives with her grandma).

We drove to the mall and ended up shopping at Forever 21(F21). That was probably my first mistake.

Ashley then informed me that she liked cheetah print. I kind of died a little inside, but tried my very best to go into cheetah mode. I was on the hunt, my laser eyes scanning each and every rack for any signs of cheetah life.

There were tight cheetahs.
Short cheetahs.
Slinky cheetahs.
Stretchy cheetahs. 

After meandering through the maze that is our F21, we finally headed off to the dressing room, loaded down with our kill of the day.

Ashley tried on dress, after dress, after dress. 

One particular dress stood out to me...in that is was not cheetah print. It was a light coral color in a sea of black and white.

It looked really pretty on her and she seemed to like it. When I asked her if she wanted it, she kind of paused and shook her head "no". She wanted to keep trying things on. Like cheetah things.

We had been there for a while and I started to get really sleepy. Like sit down in the middle of the floor of the dressing room, sleepy. I had lost all dignity at this point.

Finally, Ashley emerged from the dressing room, looking very pleased and confident in her latest selection:
Short.tight.black dress.
With a loosely fitting cheetah shirt over it.
Did I mention the dress was short? And tight? It looked like an outfit for an 18-year-old about to go clubbing.

"Um, Ashley, honey. That dress is a little short, dontcha think?" I asked.

She kind of tugged it down a little and her sister(who came along) said "Oh, it's fine. Look, it's not too short in back".

Ashley had that look on her face. 
I knew that look.
Her heart was set on that outfit! She loved it! She looked so happy. 

I was so tired.
And defeated, sitting on the floor of the dressing room, about to burst into tears. The episode of Focus on the Family comes to mind. The mom and her teenage girls crying in the dressing room. I was not too far off. And I thought this would never be me, bahaha. God has a funny sense of humor.

I knew deep down that we should go to another store to find a longer, more appropriate dress. I was about to drop dead from the exhaustion of it all. 

So, against my better judgement, I reluctantly grabbed the outfit and headed to the register.

Next stop, Payless, for the shoes.

They started oohing and aaahing over some stilettos. 


I practically shouted, "NO! You will trip and fall!"

She finally settled on a pair of black shiny wedge heels. They were still a tad too mature for her, in my opinion, but much better than the stilettos.

I dropped the girls off at Grandma's house and felt a sense of impending doom. Grandma was going to kill me!

My friends tried to console me. But I knew I had just made a big mistake.

At the reading program, I saw Grandma and debated running the other way, ha. Just kidding. I walked up to her and said "The dress? Too short?"

Now, Grandma speaks mainly spanish. But she nodded her head in agreement. "Too short, too tight!" she said. With her hand gesturing waaaaaay up the leg. She was not upset with me, but she was very upset with the choice her grand-daughter had made. 

Oh dear. This was quite the pickle I was in.

She motioned that she wanted a dress to the knees or lower. The black dress was nowhere in the vicinity of the knees. I mean, obvi.

I was of course, completely mortified and insisted on taking Ashley back to exchange the dress for something more appropriate. 

So today we went back to F21(They only do exchanges no refunds. So I thought we'd try for a nicer dress and go elsewhere if need be).

I don't know what happened, but Ashley was a completely different girl--she started picking out very pretty dresses...NONE of them cheetah print. I mean a few times, she pointed too a dress that was too short, but I would quickly shake my head and say "too short!"

I ended up randomly finding a gorgeous flowing blush-colored dress and it fit perfectly. She absolutely LOVED it! Fit for a princess! And we found an adorable pair of cheetah shoes to go with it. VICTORY!!!

On the way home in the car, we got to discuss a range of topics, from drinking/drugs, boyfriends, marriage, teenage pregnancy. You know. The usual.

But the best part was that we got to talk about Jesus. I told her the gospel message, as best as I could. I mean, I was completely awk, of course. But at this point in life, I'm too old to care. As long as she knew Jesus was the most important thing to me, I was happy.

Grandma was THRILLED with the outfit, btw!

This time, my drive home was full of joy. God is so gracious to me. He gave me another chance. The first shopping trip, I totally bombed. But he knew ahead of time that this would happen. And he gave me another chance, so that something even better could happen. Something even better than the perfect dress and shoes. He gave me a chance to tell her about his precious son Jesus.