Fifty-four years ago, a little girl with reddish curls sat beside the Christmas tree. She wore a blue corduroy robe with white piping her grandmother had made. A poodle with hair curly as hers smiled for the camera.
Then, ripping the wrapping off a certain package, her blue eyes grew wide. Inside, she found her first Barbie doll. Inside another box, she found Barbie outfits made by her Grandma out of the same material Grandma made the little girl’s dresses. Like this one, the next Christmas.
Over the years, Barbie’s wardrobe expanded beyond the blue velveteen dress. Grandma made Barbie glittery gowns. Even a wedding dress. Barbie was always beautifully dressed, all because of Grandma. But beneath all Barbie’s clothes?
Bare. Exposed. Plastic.
The little girl with the curls grew. So did her wardrobe. But no pretty clothes could help her feel beautiful for long.
She grew desperate for cover. Desperate to hide her flaws—the ones no one wants to be exposed.
Because no one wants to feel the searing flames of shame. So she put on performance plastic and tried to insulate herself. She tried to pretend she was “together”, not like those others, whoever they were. And her covers worked well. For awhile.
Then, when she learned that performance and success and applause couldn’t help her feel safe and secure, she decided to bear her soul. She decided to stop being plastic. She decided to become real and let herself be properly clothed.
At sixteen, that no-longer-little girl opened her scared and scarred heart and accepted a gift—the greatest gift she’s ever received.
But not the common clothes like her friends or even the designer clothes of this world. She received the Designer’s clothes, given for her. The kind of clothes that don’t just cover. The kind of clothes that make one welcome and loved, just as we are.
The clothes of Christ’s righteousness.
That He, Jesus, would bare Himself that I might not ever bear shame again?
That He, Jesus, would give His own righteousness to me, so I can stop trying so hard to earn it myself?
That He, Jesus, would hand me Himself so I might walk through this world with no plastic parts?
What kind of a god offers His perfection in exchange for my sin? What kind of gift can match?
This Christmas, I’m going to wear my best-ever dress, the one that disposes of guise.
This Christmas, I’m going beyond the swaddling clothes and the manger bed.
This Christmas, I’m going to the One stripped bare and crucified to cleanse me white as snow and clothe me with Himself.
Monday morning, my daughter will unwrap a package of clothes I bought for her. My daughter, who doesn’t share my curls or blood. My daughter, who shares my Jesus.
And so do my sons.
This Christmas, I want them all to remember that there are no “clothes”—no worldly coverings, no fantastic offerings—that can ever give us what Jesus has already given us—Himself—His righteousness—placed on us with His own nail-pierced hands.
He worked hard to make us “best-dressed”.
May we receive and give Him thanks.
Be blessed, this Christmas, with a fresh reading of Isaiah 40.
True hope and peace for a time such as this.