You don’t have to be a fashion expert to understand why a seventh-grade girl wearing a green apron as part of her outfit didn’t fit in at my junior high school.
There are certain things that most everyone just knows better than to do. That is, until you feel defeated already.
I can remember wearing a green apron to school and hearing the ninth-grade girls happily telling me how dumb I looked.
But, they told me that every day anyway, so I wondered what the difference was.
I let them defeat me again when I stopped wearing the green apron to school.
It wasn’t until I was grown and thought hard about why I chose to wear that green apron in the first place that I could see my motivation.
I was happy about the fact that I had sewn that green apron myself.
When I put it on, I felt alive in my own creativity. I was surrounded by the work of my own hands.
I had made it before taking a sewing class and without a pattern or any instructions from anyone.
I had discovered my mother’s sewing machine, found a piece of discarded material and made something useful out of that green fabric, all on my own while my mother was at work.
I loved that green apron.
But I didn’t like my school or the ninth-graders who seemed to be in most of my classes.
And I wondered where all the friends I had made in elementary school had gone.
That was a hard year for me.
I realized how deeply I struggled at that time later, when I learned just a small amount about handwriting analysis.
That year, I stopped making curved, open swirls in my signature and started signing my name in a visibly closed-off manner, with the straightest lines I could invent for the letters that make up my name.
And I kept those straight lines through the rest of my life.
But then one day, I decided to let go of all things that had hurt me in the past. I must confess that doing what I could to let go was the hardest challenge I’ve ever faced. I often was emotionally drained.
One of those challenges was putting behind me all the ninth-graders and what they said and did at a time when I was so impressionable.
It’s what the Bible counsels us to do, minus the decades I allowed myself to be bitter.
“Let not the sun go down upon your wrath,” reads part of Ephesians 4:26 of the King James version of the Bible.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice,” reads a few verses later, Ephesians 4:31, in the English Standard Version. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you,” reads the next verse.
And God reminds us that the challenges in life are for our own good anyway.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’ ” reads Jeremiah 29:11 in the New International Version.
I must admit I found more rewards than I ever could have expected when I let go of so much pain.
Other people started coming to me with their own deep sorrows, and I felt very blessed that they would trust me with their stories.
What I learned was that everyone at some time or another has a “green apron.”
Everyone has something of honor or pride that others come along to destroy or put down.
And in order to be happy, everyone has to learn how to pick themselves back up again and to restore that honor or pride within themselves.
Everyone has to find a way to put that green apron back on in spite of what anyone else who might be around may say or do as a result.