13 December 2017

Browned off!

raSummer is upon us! It’s hard to believe isn’t it? Christmas seems like yesterday! I sorted the kids’ clothes the other day, packed away all the winter woollies and lifted out those light summer outfits that look great with grass stains and ice-cream down the front! I must have taken the head staggers, because when I finished with their cupboards I launched into my own. It was easy to spot the ‘Summer stuff!’ It stuck out like a sore thumb beside my usual ‘ensembles’. I appear to be a bit of a black fanatic: I have that little black suit, dress, skirt, top and boots! As I moved the black aside I came across items of clothing I had forgotten I owned. There were pastel shades, bright reds, vivacious blues, little vests, sleeveless shirts, short skirts, mules, sandals and even flip flops!

I got quite carried away with the thought of long sunny days, bright nights, spontaneous barbecues and of course my holidays! I dreamed of Cyprus, Florida, Italy or France. I imagined myself beside a luxurious swimming pool. In this dream I was a stone lighter, looked fabulous in my swim gear and was involved in some serious ‘R & R’ by the pool! The sun was blazing in a cloudless sky and I was mahogany brown! The rain pinging off the conservatory roof and a glance at my pasty skin brought me swiftly back to earth – mahogany indeed, dream on!

You see I love having a tan, you just feel better when you’ve got a ‘wee bit of colour’, you feel healthier, more confident, and brown legs are definitely more attractive than milk bottles dangling out the end of your skirt! I smiled as I thought of the many ways I had attempted to achieve that ‘summer glow’ when two weeks in the Bahamas wasn’t an option!

As a student I’d gone through the sunbed phase – spending my money on 30 minute sessions to give me that healthy look. It bored me to tears just lying there and I don’t think I ever looked any different. You can always tell the difference between a ‘real’ tan and one gained on a sun bed anyway!

While sunbathing in the back garden on one occasion I had a disastrous experience. The sun was shining and the sky was blue so I decided to go and ‘lie out’ for a while. Being incredibly stupid I decided that the Northern Ireland sun couldn’t possibly be as warm as the sun on holiday and thus declined the offer of sun cream. I fell asleep quite quickly and when I woke up I couldn’t move – I was totally roasted. Now I don’t normally burn but I was so red I looked like the little man from the Ready Brek advert, you know the one with the glow! The pain from this was bad but nothing compared to the embarrassment that would ensue. You see I had a bikini top on, it was black (of course) and was trimmed with a white edge. Unfortunately the bikini had gone into meltdown under  glare of the blazing sun and the edge had melted. I joke you not – the white edge of the bikini had turned to glue and was sticking to me. I looked like a total idiot but that was nothing to how I felt trying to explain myself to the doctor!

I resorted to false tans after that, but they’re just not the same. Sometimes they work well, but you rarely get that all over even glow. More often than not you put on too much and look like an orange on legs. You can go for the streaky look: darker on the front, lighter at the back and nothing at the sides. Your Summer whites acquire a beige edge to them and if it rains, well that can just be catastrophic! No, there’s definitely no doubt about it, there’s nothing like the real thing.

It’s a bit like life really. The only life worth having is ‘real life’. Not a life full of pretence and deceit, emitting half-truths; not a life that mimics that of a Christian but is full of falseness and attitudes that don’t blend together, words that can be heavy and actions which are very light. Real life comes through Christ, the true giver of life. 1 John 5:11-13 says, ’…this is the testimony that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life, he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.’

A fake tan fades very quickly, even a tan gained in the Med goes away, but Jesus and the life He gives is so real it is eternal – it is everlasting. It is something really worth having.

As I closed the wardrobe door I made a mental note to buy some new swimwear – something with asbestos in it!

Ruth Ravey