"Handsome is as handsome does" is an old proverb that I grew up with in England. It means that actions, which speak to inner character, are far more telling than outer beauty...
I love nice clothes and have always rationalized my overspending in that area of our budget as a "small weakness." I can trace my passion for shopping back to my childhood where there was no money for frills, including pretty clothes. We had our school uniforms and good shoes but other new items of clothing were so rare that I can remember every item of clothing in my wardrobe between the ages of 12 and 16, when I started work. But that is all so long ago!
On my trips back to England to visit Mum and Rob, I always looked forward to spending time in Marks and Spencers, Next and Dorothy Perkins and always came home with several new items of clothing.
In October I was back in Alvechurch again and this time was different. I focused on Mum and being everything to Rob that he needed. I went shopping with him to Sainsburys and walked with him to the post office and the village shops. I went with him to the dump, or "tip" as they call it in England. He does these things alone usually. I cooked as many meals as I could and walked Bruce twice a day to save the strain it causes to Rob's back. I did dishes when he cooked.
One day Rob asked if I'd like to go to the bank with him and I did. I'd been there about a week and I hadn't been into the shopping centre at all. He asked if I'd like to have a look around as it was early in the day and his back had not yet begun to bother him. I said, "I'd love to have a look in Dorothy Perkins." He came with me and I scanned the store in two minutes flat.
"Would I be able to have a look in Next?" I asked.
He said, "Yes, my back is feeling all right."
While Rob followed me in I saw the latest trend and liked it. The sheath dress of the 60s was back in style and there was one dress that I especially liked, but I cared about Rob's back and didn't want to presume on his kindness. I made a mental note of it and thought that maybe I'd have a chance to come back and try it on some other time.
The days went by fast. I was only there for 12 days this time and with visits from friends; a special birthday party, and an accident with Mum's leg, the time flew by. I was content just to "be with" and "be still." I didn't feel the usual urgency to shop for gifts to take home for all and sundry. I picked up little things here and there in Sainsbury's or wherever I saw something that I could afford and I knew was the perfect little thing for someone.
The dress was at the back of my mind though, and finally it was my last day there. I had packed the day before, and although I had lunch with Uncle John, I made sure I came home early in the afternoon so that I could spend as much of the last day as I could, with Mum.
I knew that if I asked Rob, he would have driven me to town to try on the dress. I also knew that Mum would not begrudge me doing whatever I really wanted to do. But the phrase, "Handsome is as handsome does," ran like a refrain through my head. I saw that had I gone to try it on, something ugly would have lived on in my soul. It felt as though some old dead branches were being pruned off this tree called Belinda, and it was growing more beautiful and stately of form.
This was the trip when I loved my brother practically better than I have before and I know that Jesus loved him through me. How important that was. And I felt a different sort of beauty; one much to be preferred.