"Oh, my God!"
I winced. "Jessie..."
"Oh, Tracey, I'm so sorry. It just slips out sometimes. Old habits are hard to break, but I'm trying real hard." We rapidly approached a petite blond and Jessica hailed her an enthusiastic greeting. "What's up? Wow, Jackie, I just love your shirt!" Jessica declared.
I smiled, as politely as I could and searched for something kind to say about the tight, brown skimpy tank top my friend was sporting. "Yeah, Jacqueline. I...I really like...the design. The cross is very...glittery...and big." I was certain that I sounded very lame and uncertain, but Jackie didn't seem to notice.
She giggled with pleasure. "Thanks guys. I saw this shirt and knew I had to have it. It just screams 'I'm a Christian!' I knew you'd like it, Jessie."
"Definitely! Where did you get it? How much was it? Did they have any other colors?" Jessie was rattling on as she held out a lock of her curly brown hair to Jackie's tank top. To see if her hair color and the tank top color complimented each other, of course. Any one, except maybe a guy, would understand the important and essential compatibility of a shirt color with your hair color. But if the shirt's a real steal, and they don't have your best color, then you could always dye your hair. At least, that what I'm told. By Jackie.
"My favorite store, Jessie. Old Navy. It was on sale for twenty bucks. Beat that!"
I knew I could make my own glittery black cross with fabric paint on an eight-dollar Wal-Mart tank top, but I said nothing.
We walked into the ice cream shop, ordered what we want, and then found a table. I was still in awe over the fact that God had brought us three together. That He had used me to bring these two girls to Him. There was Jackie "Faishion-ista", the most popular girl in school, and quite a hot item by any guy's standards, and Jessica, the female jock of the school, setting new school records in track and basketball. And then there was me. 'Lil ole' Tracey Smithel. The geek of the school. The nerd, the teacher's pet. The goody-goody Christian girl. But, generally I was just summed up in one word: freak.
As I sat at the table, sipping my vanilla milkshake and pretending to listen to Jessie carry on about Jackie's new tank top, I felt a little uneasy. I had a feeling that there was something God wanted me to say, but, not being one who enjoys confrontation, I hesitated.
Laughing at something Jackie said, Jessie snorted, her root beer float choosing that moment to exit her mouth rather forcefully and spray all over Jackie's, hair, face, and, worst of all, her new tank top.
In slow motion, Jackie rose, her gaze nearly searing Jessie's shocked, terror stricken face.
Then, with great effort, she smiled and sat back down. "It's OK," she said in a small hoarse whisper, more to convince herself, I'm certain, than to reassure Jessie. "It's just a shirt." Her voice choked on the last word.
Time began again.
"Oh, my Go-" Jessie glanced quickly in my direction. "Gosh! Oh, my gosh! Jackie, I'm sooo sorry! This is all my fault. My bad, my bad, my sooo bad! I'm gonna get some wet paper towels from the bathroom. I'm sooo sorry!" She rushed to the restroom.
"Well," I began cautiously, trying to keep my voice light as I helped Jackie gather napkins to dap at her top. This was my opportunity. "Being soaked in an ice cream float doesn't exactly make your top fit looser."
Jackie's eyes narrowed as she paused her delicate dabbing motions. "What do you mean?"
I swallowed hard, but forged ahead. "Jacqueline, it's just...your top...isn't exactly...modest."
"Modest?" She raised one immaculate eyebrow.
Jessie returned with wet paper towels, still babbling about how sorry she was. Jackie raised one manicured hand and Jessie was silenced. "Go on, Tracey. What about this 'modest' stuff?"
"In 1 Timothy two," I pulled my pocket NIV from my purse and began flipping through the pages. "Um...verse...verses nine and ten. It says, 'I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety...with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.' "
I looked up. Jackie held my gaze, unwaveringly. "So my top isn't modest?"
"Well, Jackie," I replied, as gently as I could. "You know how we're always saying that it's really wrong when guys wear those little Speedo things? Well, just like those Speedo's, your tank-top doesn't really leave a whole lot to the imagination."
" 'Be careful how you live among your unbelieving neighbors,' " Jessie quoted quietly. " 'Even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will believe and give honor to God when he comes to judge the world.' I read that the other day in my NLT."
I looked at Jessie, a little surprised. "Wow. A verse I didn't know off the top of my head. You go, girl."
"Thank-you very much," Jessie beamed. "And I even know what it means."
"Impressive. Let's hear it."
"Oh, OK. Um, right. I think it means that if you look and act like unbelievers, you'll pretty much lose your good witness, but if you are godly, they will notice your honesty and respect it. The worst witness is a hypocrite."
"Nice job, Jessie. In the world, not of it. Couldn't have said it better myself."
Jackie had been listening quietly, thoughtfully. "So the reason we have to be modest is so we can be good witnesses, right?"
"Well, there is one other reason...you know that guys are visual, right? That's just how God made them?" Jackie nodded, so I continued. "When girls wear revealing stuff, guys can get...um, well..."
Amused, Jackie finished what I was too embarrassed to say out loud. "Aroused?"
"Yeah, that's it." I could feel my cheeks turning warm. "And they can fall into sin, just 'cuz some girl wore something they probably shouldn't have. Now, don't get me wrong. The dudes will be held responsible for their thoughts and actions, but in God's eyes, girls who dress seductively are just as guilty."
Jackie and Jessie exchanged a secret glance. I started to feel uneasy, like I was overstepping my boundaries in our friendship. Maybe I had been too busy preaching to see if my talk matched my walk. I slipped my Bible back into my purse and I sipped my milkshake, nervously waiting for some response from the others.
After a few meaningful looks between each other, Jackie turned to me. She must have noticed I was feeling uneasy because she smiled slightly. "Tracey, could I borrow your jacket?"
The ice cream parlor was freezing, but I gladly handed over my jacket. I smiled, understanding what Jackie hadn't said.
"Yeah, and maybe you could come over to my house and help me go through my wardrobe. I know there's a few things I should get rid of," Jessie said.
"Oh, and me, too," Jackie agreed. "And then, we can go shopping for some new, but modest, clothes!"
Relief washed over me. We were friends, we were Christians. Life was good, but God was even better.
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