I tore off a plastic produce bag and spent the next two minutes trying to figure out how to open it. I reached for a fat, juicy orange when the woman next to me reached for the same one.
“You go ahead,” I told her. “Ah, that’s okay, it’s yours,” she answered back, with a smile. We both looked into the other one’s eyes, and it hit me: she and I were friends. Neither knew the other’s name, I didn’t know her shoe size or her favorite color. Children, no children? On a diet? Probably not. Happy with our husbands? Whatever. I didn’t know her phone number, nor did I care to. Was the diamond on her left hand bigger than mine? It may have been, I didn’t notice.
All I remember is that we dove into each other’s souls with a single glance, and we both felt a sisterhood, a connection that was real, palpable, and eternal. We needed each another. We respected each other. And best of all, we were finally able to feel the fireworks of our communion, because we were comfortable in our own skins. I can’t remember who bagged the biggest orange. It didn’t matter, because we were both willing to let the other pick and choose at will.
I thought, “So, this is how it feels to be grown-up. This is what grown-up, whole women do. They listen. They wait. They stop in time. They breathe. They let it go. They don’t hang on to what they can’t control. They’re free. They know there’s plenty to go around. They are untangled. These thoughts and more flooded my heart. Wow. What a deal. When did my womanhood marinate and come to fruition? When did this secure, grown-up feeling become my own?”
I wasn’t sure, but I was certain that this was the day of my Bat Mitzvah, wearing T-shirt, in the most unlikely of places: the produce department of Whole Foods. I wanted to ask her if this was her big day as well. Or was hers yesterday, the day before, last week, or maybe even five years ago?
I’d survived all the way up to 2004 and had become the woman God intended me to be: untangled from the sleeping pills; untethered from the grief of the county clinic; forgiven of adultery, divorce, and all that followed. I’d lived to forgive my mother, my father, and my family in general, and I’d learned to trust God’s forgiveness. Unafraid to speak my mind. Unafraid of getting old. Knot after knot, untangled. I was the woman God so loved, the woman He died to save.
“And, Lord? Who is this woman beside me?” Her eyes told me she was untangled too. We were free from every magazine ad that told us we weren’t beautiful enough, every TV commercial that made us feel small, fat, unimportant, and boring. Free from every fad diet, and the dread of wrinkles. Free to stop shopping. Free from boys on bikes and husbands who hit us. We were free from comparison. Free from competition. Free. Free. Free. Right there in Whole Foods with all the oranges cheering us on!
From three-time GRAMMY Award Nominee
speaker and author of the acclaimed book,
Untangled: The Truth Will Set You Free
The Clothesline Conference
Michele Pillar is a speaker, author, and recording artist whose career achievements include more than two million record sales, numerous #1 hits in the 80s and 90s, and three Grammy nominations. Michele shares her story of God’s work in her life at speaking engagements across the country and in her new book, Untangled: The Truth Will Set You Free.