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It’s no surprise to people who know me that I am not a fancy Nancy.
I’m not plain, and I am (I hope) feminine, but I’m definitely not lacy, doily, flowery foo-foo.
I’m so not a princess.
That said, I’m constantly getting invited to women’s events that border on the fancy. This past weekend, I was with a group of women at a nearby Victorian hotel, which has fancy in its very structure.
Not all the women were fancy, although some liked the bling and shiny things, Southern-style big hair, wigs and hairpieces, manis, pedis and spas and shopping in boutiques.
I liked all the women I met, fancy and not. I discovered that 70-year-olds can be a lot of fun and that the one 80-year-old in the group had more energy than the rest of us put together.
The event was a retreat and, therefore, there were games and skits. I think there’s a rule somewhere that whenever women gather, games must be played. I’m not a huge fan of games. I don’t mind skits as long as I don’t have to be in one.
Game night for us was supposed to be Saturday night, but the group leader saw that everyone was tired so the game was postponed until Sunday.
Heaven forbid we don’t play a game!
Perhaps it’s a law of the universe. Maybe the earth will wobble on its axis if a women’s retreat ends without a game played.
Or maybe God knew what He was up to.
Sunday morning came and the game was announced. With this game, everyone had to remove one shoe and put it in a laundry basket. Then we had a relay race where we had to grab a shoe that wasn’t our own from the basket and find out who it belonged to, slip it on her foot and say, “The shoe fits, so you are the princess.”
The game ended with one woman without her shoe. The game leader had removed one shoe from the basket and then the women on the retreat committee, who were all in on the game, made a big production out of looking for the missing shoe.
The committee disappeared into a side room and emerged with the show on a pillow, and with great and fancy pomp and foo-foo pageantry and fanfare — I was waiting for trumpets — and presented the semi-shoeless woman with her shoe and declared her, not just a princess, but a queen.
They put a royal robe around her shoulders and a tiara on her head, led her to a fancy chair, her “throne,” presented her with red roses and a scepter and put a sash on her that read in sparkly letters: “Miss Understood.”
I think the sash was from a skit they did a previous year. However, it wouldn’t have mattered what was written on the sash to the newly crowned retreat queen.
Overwhelmed, she started to cry.
I had learned earlier a little bit about this woman. Her dad died when she was young and she had two “evil” stepfathers. Her mom taught her to shoplift. She had four babies before she was 20. She married a man who wasn’t kind to her, to put it mildly, and one night she broke a beer bottle and used it to slit his throat.
He didn’t die, and by some incredible fluke she was never arrested for her crime.
Years later, Jesus changed her life and wiped away her sins, but she has carried a lot of guilt and shame and feelings of unworthiness.
To be crowned queen, even queen of a silly princess shoe game, was as if God was saying to her, “This is how I see you now” — which I believe is exactly what he was saying to her, and not just to her but to all those who love Jesus.
Through her tears the woman said, “I never went to a prom. I was married four times and never wore a white wedding dress. I’m just starting to believe that God smiles on me.”
I’m still not a fan of princess games, but I was awestruck and amazed, yet not surprised, at how God knew exactly whose shoe needed to be hidden and who needed to be crowned queen.
Of all the women there, no one needed it more because she believed she deserved it the least.
That, dear friends, is the grace of God.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria — I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.