In a moment of extremely poor judgment a few weeks back, I got a spray tan.
Naturally olive-skinned me, who browns easily in the summer sun, decided I was sick of being pale (it was April, oh the vanity) and took matters into my own hands. I consciously opted to paint an orangey potion on my body and act like it wasn’t going to be a big deal.
Well, let me tell you. It was a BIG DEAL. This spray tan did much more for me than streak my knees and adhere to my knuckles like red Georgia clay. But before I share how it affected me internally, let me explain the process for those of you who may not know.
Getting a spray tan was the grossest 8 hour period of my life thus far. You might think I’m exaggerating, but I have yet to birth children (which I hear can spur on some pretty gross situations) so I think my description is probably more true than false.
It was embarrassing. I developed my own climate. I smelled of urine drenched towels and coconut cocktails. It was like lounging on a tropical island filled with a colony of feral cats. And oh my gosh, I was so sticky… like I’d been dunked in dirty maple syrup. And to top it all off, I was instructed by the alien at the tanning salon to wait 6-8 hours before showering.
A 6-8 hour spray tan purgatory where I dwelled on my spray tan sins.
Like most poor decisions in your twenties, I was encouraged by my girlfriends. (I love you girls, but c’mon!) Knowing good and well that I’ve intentionally never done this before, I set aside all reason and apprehension and believed my beautiful smiling friends. My dear friends told me a few fibs that day…
1. “You will love your spray tan”
2. “Do it during the day and just let it set all day so you can shower at night”
3. “It smells great.”
So, after my session (which involved “barrier cream”, a weird silk shower cap, and nose plugs), I went out with my husband and some friends to an outdoor concert. I basically spent the whole evening developing a sickening orange complexion, cursing my friends, and trying to avoid being down wind… from myself.
Which is next to impossible when you are yourself.
Once my 8 hours was up, I took two long, hot showers. I scrubbed and scrubbed. (Note to the reader: A loofah can indeed be a weapon if used appropriately.) I just felt so dirty. It felt like evidence, strewn about my being, wreckage for all to see. My poor decision made on display for anyone who interacted with me. I needed it gone. I needed it to disappear.
And as I was sitting on the couch after my second hot shower, trying to cool down and avoid smelling myself, I really got to thinking.
What if every single thing I did was under the impression that for the following 6-8 hours, everyone I encountered would be able to see it?
They would know where I was, what I did while I was there, how much it cost, who I interacted with, who we spoke about, and more.
Would I live differently?
One of my favorite quotes from Derek Webb came at a concert where he was talking about our sins being on display for all to see. He said, “The best thing that could ever happen to any one of us is that all our sins would be broadcast on the 5 o’ clock news.”
As painful as that sounds, I have reached a point in my life where I have seen the goodness of this. I have been victim to this. My friends have seen my sins on display and revealed them to me. It is painful. It hurts. But, even more so, I have seen the grace extended in these moments.
I know that when sin is pushed into the light and true repentance occurs, there is ONLY grace and forgiveness. So, my challenge is to all of us – live like EVERYONE is watching. We should invest our time in fruitful things, speak kind words, and above all, love one another with the greatest love that has been extended to us. And with that in mind, I know for certain:
Yes, I can forgive my friends for encouraging me to do this.
Yes, my husband can forgive me for becoming disgusting and sticky for 8 hours.
Yes, lemon juice and sugar will scrub my streaky knees clean.
Yes, I am thankful for this lesson on vanity, humility, and deceit.
What I’m trying to say is this – God met me in my spray tan, where does He meet you?