Tuesday, August 4, 2015

N is for Nails

No, not these nails
            Not the nails carpenters use, though I’ve certainly seen enough of those this summer while entertaining myself with multiple episodes of Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, and Love It or List It on HGTV. 
No, I’m talking about fingerNAILS, but I can’t say N is for Fingernails, and I don’t want to go back to F, or I’ll have to come up through G, H, I, J, K, L, and M again. No thanks.

            I prefer painted toenails to painted fingernails, since a pedicure can last forever. That’s because I don’t cook, wash up the kitchen, type, or play ukulele with my toes. My toes have displayed a lovely orangey shade for a few weeks with no signs of wear and tear, though I walked barefoot in the sand in Maryland.

            Saturday I decided to paint my fingernails the same shade so as to look more chic and polished to attend a bridal shower with my friend. I gave them two coats and stood in front of a fan in between coats to encourage drying. By the time I buckled into my friend’s car, I realized I had a little indentation in two nails already. I was going to touch them up before going to Sunday School, but I didn’t. Now it’s Tuesday, and I can no longer see the indentations, but only because the color has worn off the tips of all ten fingernails. I have a date with a bottle of remover and a bag of cotton balls.

Jaunty Jamberry Nails
            Faux nails offer an alternative to polish. A friend had an online Jamberry Nails party, and I bought a few sets; they are floppy vinyl attached with heat. I experimented with the sample, enough to cover my pinky nails. I looked pretty funky with black and white stripes on my pinkies, giving me some street cred with the teens I teach. The Jams lasted through a week of showers, but I still haven’t gotten around to applying the full sets.

Clare's fabulous faux nails for the formal
            I also had a set of long faux nails from Clare’s. I used lots of glue to affix them before attending my school’s formal banquet in May. My hands looked fabulous, though handling knife, fork, and spoon presented a challenge. After a full week, and with an impending ukulele lesson, I used a nail clipper to trim the nails down to a size for working hands. The nails didn’t crack, and lasted another week until I was really sick of them and wanted them off. After soaking in nail polish remover, I found some pale, scratched up, sickly real nails underneath. I have been nursing them back to health ever since.

            Before attending my writers’ conference in June, I applied a set of Avon nails, similar to Jamberry. The multicolored overlays didn’t stand up to all the ukulele practices and performances that week. Strumming G, C, E, and A shredded their sparkly loveliness. Later in the week, I peeled them off and stuck them in the notebook I used in a session, and there they remain.

These cuties remind me of my sister and me.
            This fascination with nails and makeup and hair and jewelry and ruffles and bows and sparkles starts when we’re little girls. How much is nature and how much is nurture? I don’t know.

            Some Christian groups take very seriously the warnings given in Scripture. The Apostle Peter wrote, “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” 1 Peter 3:3 – 4, NLT

            And who can forget—no matter how hard I try—that annoying, overachieving Proverbs 31 woman? “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” (Proverbs 31:30 – 31, NIV) Everything that woman’s hands did from verses 10 through 27 would have destroyed any manicure known to womankind.

            So does God prefer us plain-faced with short, unpolished nails and the hair color and texture he chose for us? I could look like a nun, but even nuns don't look like nuns any more. To consider another side of this issue, read the second chapter of Esther. It was the excessive beautification of Esther that put her in the position to save the Jewish people and the messianic line.

            I confess I’m not ready to give up my feeble attempts to look better. I’ll color my hair brown…and then watch the silvery roots grow in. I’ll massage the overpriced Dead Sea Minerals gel under my eyes…waiting for the results promised by the Israelis at the mall. I’ll paint my toe nails often and my fingernails…whenever I get around to it.

            But I will continuously remind myself that only Christ can give me a beauty that doesn’t chip, crack, or peel.


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