I Want (to be like) Candy

Rear view of three young female friends at music festival

This title is from an old song by the Strangeloves in 1965. The lyrics for the first verse are:

I Want Candy
By The Strangeloves
I know a girl who’s soft and sweet
She’s so fine, she can’t be beat
Got everything that I desire
Sets the summer sun on fire
I want Candy, I want Candy

I know a woman named Candy. Nobody would give her a second look. Yes, she has long flowing hair, but there her resemblance to the girl on the beach in 1965 ends. Strangely enough, I know this Candy is infinitely more beautiful than the Candy of the Bo-Diddly beat, and if I could have a heart half as caring and kind as hers, I’d be glad, because Candy’s self-less self-giving love humbles me.

I met her one morning at church in our women’s ministry: long hair stringing straight down, carrying extra pounds, some teeth broken, wearing glasses, shorter than my 5’5″, not well-educated, completely ingenuous and genuine, from somewhere around the hills of West Virginia, a woman who used the phrase “I might could …” betraying her humble roots. There I was, the morning speaker for the message, table discussion leader, former National Merit Scholar, blessed with a good education, born in the Midwest where yes, my extended family used the term “red up” to mean clean the table, but I’d never said that in my life. Candy was the kind of person that some shy away from in order to not be considered as simple and “un-cool” as she. We shared wearing glasses and we shared loving Jesus. I might have been delivering the morning message, but I had a lot to learn from Candy.

We’d talk when we met in the lobby at church, but I never called her or went to lunch with her. Some days she needed a ride to the women’s meetings, and I’d pick her up and return her home. There I was, doing my “good Christian duty.” Oh, was I about to be set straight! Candy volunteered with the “Friendship Class” at our church, a Sunday School class for the developmentally disabled, including quite a few adults with Down’s Syndrome. She loved those people with such respect and compassion that I began to marvel at the heart in this woman.

Candy talked with real admiration about comments some of the class members made on Sunday mornings. She was always ready to serve in women’s  ministry, too, helping set and clear tables, giving hugs to anyone who would accept one. She beamed when she and the other class leaders led the Friendship Class onto the stage at church to sing in our Sunday morning services. They always got a standing ovation! Some Sundays they put on skits, and there was hardly a dry eye in the house. Several of those childlike young people also helped usher on Sunday mornings, and why not? Weren’t they fully vested Christians too? Didn’t they merit a chance to use their gifts to serve? Didn’t Jesus count them worthy of shedding his blood and enduring the whip and the cross that they could know how deeply, desperately, relentlessly God loves them?

Candy cried with me when my husband left me and the rug got pulled out from under all I’d cherished and believed – with no recrimination, no condemnation, no “What didn’t you do right?” She simply loved from that genuine, kind, simply good, simply Christlike  heart of hers, and I was grateful. I needed her friendship more than she ever needed a car ride from me.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NIV

So, rightly humbled and blessed and honored to call her my friend – I Want (to be like) Candy, a woman soft-hearted and sweet, fine as gold refined in the fire with a heart few others could claim to approximate. Yes, Candy does have something I desire very much: to love with the selfless, caring, joyfully appreciating and others-validating heart of Jesus. Candy, I respect, honor, admire, and love you, my teacher and my friend!

A “…BUT…” to move:  God, I am so quick to judge and compare people based on outward appearances or superficial qualities before I even take  a few minutes to see who they are in character and heart. Help me, Father, to see the good in ___________________________ today and give me an opportunity to tell __________________________________ how much I value him/her. Keep my eyes open for others who need to know how truly wonderful they are, and give me eyes to see below the surface and honor as you do what you’ve placed inside them. And Lord, when I feel I don’t measure up to the standards others set for me, help me to be gracious and to remember that you dance over me with singing. (Zeph 3:17)

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