I’m going to confess something that may mean you never read another word I write because it reflects a shallowness that I’ve tried to mask for years. But here goes. When I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up and live in Dallas for one simple reason: Every woman who ever came to my tiny Texas town from Dallas was GORGEOUS. I’d seen other beautiful women from other places, but there were none as beautiful – not by a long shot – as the women who hailed from Dallas. They were, I don’t know how to explain it other than to say, they were shinier than all the rest. Therefore, this small-town girl couldn’t wait to get herself to Dallas – and I guess my thinking went – become one of those shiny, beautiful women.
Let no one say I didn’t chase after my dreams. Just after graduating from Belton High School, I made my way to Dallas to attend Southern Methodist University. (What criteria did YOU use to select your college?) I wasn’t in Big D long before I came across something we didn’t have in Belton – society pages. I’d never seen such a page-turning parade of beautiful women in exquisite dresses at elegant events. These were the days before social media and those pages were like textbooks in my field of study. I started to notice a pattern and rhythm to these society pages – almost a mathematical formula (if you will permit me to try to put an academic façade on my vanity). I saw a lot of the same women over and over at various lavish events. But there was one woman who always caught my eye. She was absolutely stunning in every single picture. Pure photogenic perfection.
As the years passed and society pages turned, I almost felt like I knew this woman because I’d seen so many pictures of her. But really, all I knew was that her name was Ann Carruth, she was beautiful, always elegantly dressed, and could be found at the chicest soirees in Dallas. I imagined Ann’s life was just one beautiful event after another, interrupted only by fittings for custom gowns and various beauty-related appointments. Oh, the life!
And as time marched on in my own life, some things changed while others stayed exactly the same. The biggest change happened while I was still at SMU and I rededicated my life to Christ. I became a new creation and began to pray, devour His Word, and turn every area of my life over to Him. One thing that hadn’t changed was the draw to the shiny women of Dallas.
In 2009, I became involved in an organization called Council for Life, which helps people make life-affirming decisions when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. I found out later that it was co-founded by none other than Ann Carruth. Through Council for Life, I’d met Ann a few times and she seemed lovely, but I never spent any measurable time with her. However, anyone could see that even as the years had gone by, she was as beautiful as ever.
I had several volunteer roles within Council for Life, but there was one in which I had to find guest speakers for an event. Great, no problem, I was up for the assignment. That’s when the president of Council for Life called and told me that she, Ann Carruth and I would be going to lunch once a week for the next month (at least) to interview potential speakers. I’m sorry, what? I’m not easily intimidated, but this was too much – it was Ann Carruth – the Dallas beauty who epitomized my little girl dreams. Suddenly I felt like a country bumpkin going to dine with the Queen.
Over the next six weeks, I spent time regularly with Ann and thankfully I didn’t make any grave etiquette missteps (that I’m aware of). We typically spent an hour interviewing potential speakers, and then an additional hour discussing how that speaker could fit into our awareness campaign. Through this process I learned that Ann Carruth was way more than a Dallas socialite. She was (and is) a force to be reckoned with – in the most winsome way.
The more time I spent with Ann, the more beautiful she became, even as she neared her seventh decade on this earth. Yet her increasing beauty had nothing to do with her outward appearance. No, the person I saw was gentle, humble, prayerful, compassionate, an astute listener, and oh my goodness, faithful. Her shine had nothing to do with Dallas, or any beauty tips and tricks. She emitted the radiance of one who spends time with the King of Kings. Shekinah Glory.
And remember all those years I thought Ann had just been going from one social event to the next, stopping only for gown fittings and pampering? I could not have been more wrong. Ann spent those years using her God-given wisdom and influence going to battle for the city of Dallas. Sure, she looked impeccable doing it, but she was in the trenches, fighting for the dignity of people she would likely never meet. She used her influence to help others who had no voice. Her petite frame camouflaged a powerhouse of strength. Ann wasn’t just a socialite, she was a warrior of light in some of our city’s darkest places. That’s how she spent those years. I couldn’t believe all I’d ever attributed to Ann was outward beauty – it seems now to be the least extraordinary of her features.
Can we just take a moment to laugh right here? Please do not ever tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor. This writing assignment was for the word “faithful” and who does God first bring to my mind? The same woman I used to look at in those society pages. The same woman I used to ooh and ahh over in her pristine outfits and perfectly coiffed hair. Does anyone else get the biggest chuckle out of that? But even in all of this, it is God who is faithful. Who but our God would weave my shallow ideas together with time and circumstances so that when this small-town girl pictures a faithful woman, it’s that beautiful, shiny Dallas woman from the society pages? It’s as if He was saying, “Oh, you’re looking at her? Keep watching. She’s one of Mine.” He is a full-circle God who made even my bent toward the superficial bow before Him and become holy.
I’m thankful for this picture of God’s faithfulness. Not only for the story of Ann (and her friendship), but because I can’t help but feel loved and understood by God through all of it. He gets me. Of course He does, He created me, He knit me together in my mother’s womb. Even when I was in Belton, dreaming of coming to Dallas, He had plans for me.
And they weren’t merely to make me shiny and outwardly beautiful.
“The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy…. Holy and awesome is his name!” (Psalm 111:7,9)
Dear Lord, You are faithful. Thank You for being exactly who You are and inviting us to be exactly who we are with You. Thank you for meeting us where we are, even in the depths of our own shallowness. You reign even there. You are a God who gives immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. Lord, thank You. Thank You.