In 1999, my dad found “The Hottie List” under my mattress.
It was a well thought out ranking of the 18 hotties I went to middle school with on the basis of cuteness, dreaminess, and how likely I deduced they were to fall in love with me. The conclusion at the bottom was a succinct exclamation.
“Ayyyeeeeeee! I just love boys soooooooo much! ”
- The “Ayyyeeeeeee!” was because I lived in Miami.
- Yes, that was a real sentence I wrote on a real list of real middle school boys’ names that I still remember.
You see, I had this complex about growing up. I felt guilty and ashamed that I was starting to like boys. Ranking hotties, for whatever reason, was a secret so classified, it had to remain hidden in my heart and under my mattress.
When I got home from school that day and heard my dad say, “Scarlet, I was changing the sheets…” I collapsed into a puddle and let out a sound very similar to the whale noise option on the sound machine app.
I spent what felt like the rest of the evening, but was probably more like ten minutes, sobbing weakly in the corner of my messy closet. I had my little sister (servant) bring me two slices of Papa Johns because I was hungry, but I was too devastated to emerge from my corner of mismatched socks and shoes I’d outgrown.
I felt shame over something that wasn’t shameful. I think 13-year-olds are supposed to like hotties, anyway. Right?
I no longer keep a hottie list, but I still struggle with misplaced shame. I’ve found, as an adult, Satan’s best strategy to attack me is to make me feel guilty when I shouldn’t. To try and make me feel like my hottie lists are being discovered over and over and over by everyone from whom I seek approval. So, everyone.
He’ll twist scripture in a way that condemns.
“Well done my good and faithful servant?” You? Are you kidding me right now?
“Those whom he justified he also glorified.” So how many YouTube videos of Miranda Sings have you watched today?”
He’ll take my moments of growth and sanctification and whisper, Look how bad you are/were/will be. You’ll never be holy.
Here’s the awesome thing – no matter how much shame I feel about the hottie list and every embarrassment or failure I’ve suffered since, Jesus has already put my name on the holy list. Jesus left heaven to willingly accept the punishment I deserve and to wear my shame. But then He crushed it. He defeated it.
“Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.” Romans 5:5
My shame is Jesus’ shame and Jesus’ shame was nailed to a cross. Jesus’ holiness is my holiness and my “holiness” can never add anything.
So, how come I still live like my hottie lists are being found?
Because, I’m forgetful.
The accuser may say that Luke 19:17 (Well done, my good and faithful servant) isn’t for me. But, that’s a lie. It is, because I’m no longer I, but Christ in me (Galatians 2:20).
I won’t get a “well done” because of any list I’ve made or any list I’m on or any secret I’ve hidden or any person I’ve impressed. I’ll get a “well done” because Jesus has done well.
Living with this knowledge, that I can be guilt-free today and guilt-free forever, gives me the freedom to smile and walk humbly, looking back on the hottie lists of years past and every season of darkness and shame with nothing but gratitude.