November 9, 2015

To The Girl in the Oversized Sweatshirt


One of the things that comes up a lot when we’re at conferences is the way that I dress. I get comments on my pearls or the navy & polka dots or my boots or whatever it is, the observation is that it always has to be so fashionable or fancy. :) And the truth is, there have been more than a few people recently who have told me that they had come in having one opinion of me based just on how I dressed that was totally thrown out the window once they met me. Basically, I think the unspoken version reading between the lines is that they assumed I would be stuck up and were pleasantly surprised. :)

This past weekend at the Blink Conference (more on that coming soon!) I talked a lot about this idea of the masks we wear and the capes we put on to protect ourselves. And I totally admitted that one of my biggest capes that I wear is the way that I dress. Because to be honest, to this day I’m just still trying to run away from the girl who grew up in a dirt floor trailer. The one with the yard sale hand me downs that never quite fit, and the smell of must & mildew from our leaky tin roof that would follow you to school clinging to your clothes…and your dignity. I was the girl who got made fun of in school for my clothes. For how they looked. And for how they smelled. I was the girl who would spray on heaps of dollar store vanilla fields perfume before I caught the bus every morning just to try to cover up that smell….and I swear to you to this day, sometimes as I’m about to take the stage to speak I can still smell that sickly sweet combo of vanilla and mildew.

It’s the reason I hate the smell of vanilla to this day.

Sometimes I think we get so busy putting on our masks and our capes to the world that we forget to let people in. And sometimes I think we get so busy looking at other people’s pretty that we forget to lean in and look a little closer for the story behind the story. But there’s so much beauty in the brokenness. And there is so much honor in both the miles that we have come…as well as the mud in which we started.

If I could go back and talk to that girl in the oversized sweatshirt, I would tell her not to worry too much about the hurt that she’s going through right now. It’s brief and it’s fleeting and it’s temporary, and someday those haters and hurters will all be gone. That she will be kinder and softer and more gentle for having gone through it.

And someday her story is going to change more hearts than a girl in polka dots and a navy blazer ever could.



  1. Tiffany Medrano

    Thank you for sharing so much of your life and heart with us! You are a Woman of Noble Charater. And I am grateful for you.

  2. Michelle Newell

    I love that you carry yourself in such a classy and beautiful way! You and Justin are a class act and so incredibly genuine!! I really enjoyed the little bit of time I had to chat with you both in between running here and there for the BLINK conference. You two are such lovely, lovely, people!!!! =)

  3. Lisa Cour

    Living with cancer over this past year and change has taught me the truth of those words…there is SUCH beauty in brokenness. And God doesn’t waste anything if we are willing to yield to him. You have chosen to let Him use it and its beautiful.

  4. Rebecca Nash-Emerson

    Mary – I can’t even begin to express how much I wish I could just reach through the screen right now and hug you!

    My story may have been a bit different then yours but I know that feeling of struggle and of trying to hide the things we think others are looking at.

    You are a little further down your journey than I am (as I sit here in yoga pants and tank top) but to see a little more of the journey you have made both on the inside and out…it gives me a little encouragement and inspiration that the growth I am working for internally and externally is possible and than what I’m going through at any given time will not break me…it will work out!

    Thank you for sharing this personal story!

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