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Christmas Humble Pie

I wore a new dress to our church’s Christmas Eve service paired with a cute scarf, super adorable tights, and boots.  My husband is a pastor, so I showed up with the kids (per my usual) just a few minutes before the service.  The sanctuary was packed, but we snuck in beside my husband toward the front.  I was feeling particularly festive and accomplished for arriving on time with everyone dressed to the nines.  I had even managed to curl my hair during naptime!
After a few lively Christmas songs, the worship leader instructed us to sit.  In the hurried attempt to move coats out of the way, find a spot for my purse (a.k.a. small suitcase), and get my son settled I heard my iPhone hit the floor.  While still trying to make room for everyone and everything on the crowded row, a man sitting behind me, who I did not know, directed my husband to the dropped phone under the pew.  Then he leaned forward and informed me, “…and your OLD NAVY tag is sticking out.”  Cue embarrassment and blushing cheeks.  My husband proceeded to grab the tag (as I’m sure several behind us were watching at this point), pause briefly as he planned a rapid pull, and jerk with all his might – unsuccessfully removing the tag, but pulling a chunk of my nicely curled hair.  After holding in a screech I whispered in a stern tone, “Just.Tuck.It.In.”
I walked into that service like I’d just stepped out of a Neiman Marcus dressing room and the whole time my Old Navy tag publicized the $34.94 cost (which in reality I purchased on Black Friday for 50% off).  There’s nothing like an Old Navy price tag hanging out of a classy black dress in front of 400 people to remove the pomp and pretense from one’s heart.  After the blush of embarrassment had cleared my cheeks, these words I read earlier that day flooded my mind…
“Tonight, at the foot of the cradle of Christ, like at the foot of the Cross of Christ, there are no big people—no powerful, no proud.  Tonight there are only those who tramp to the manger with nothing; there are only the manger tramps, the men who lay down all the self-made, the women who lay down all the self-sufficiency, the children who lay down all the wants.  We, the manger tramps, who kneel where thrones tremble and demons fall and the self-made crumble and the self-righteous weep…[come] with all our poverty of spirit…so there can be an abundance of God.”   [Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift]
So, for the rest of the night, I drank in every hymn, let my mind meditate on each reading, and worshipped freely and wholeheartedly as one who had been freed from the need to impress and given the opportunity to drink deeply of my God.  He is the one who willingly took on flesh, who entered my mess to rescue me out of striving for a polished image, who is the only true source of the joy, peace, and hope for which my soul so desperately longs.
…and as mind-boggling as it is…He loves me…tag and all.
Ashlee Johnson

Ashlee is the wife of a pastor, mom of two busy little ones, and a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Seminary. She is passionate about communicating the truths of Scripture to women and magnifying Jesus as the All-Satisfying Treasure and Almighty Redeemer. She has lived in North Carolina for most of her life and loves making the most of the sidewalks and parks in her 1940s neighborhood. Ashlee enjoys healthy eating and exercising, but finds it nearly impossible to resist homemade cookies!

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