You remember the movie, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? It’s the one where one single pair of jeans miraculously fits four different girls. One was tall,one average, one curvy and the final one was petite in size. They spent a Summer of travel and fun in separate places, but shared the pants a couple of weeks each for their vacation. This IS NOT that story.
We all get them. No one is immune to this complete seizing of your day. Maybe it doesn’t take up your entire day, it may be only an hour, or even a minute, but suddenly you are held hostage to some feeling, emotion, or attitude that totally transforms your day. Sometimes there are a series of inevitable events that lead up to this takeover. However, sometimes it just creeps up like a lion who has been watching its prey; waiting to find that one moment of oblivion to pounce.
My day actually started with excitement. I needed new blue jeans, searched online vigorously, and found THE pair. I even lucked out with free two-day shipping! I eagerly awaited the arrival of my package. If you follow me on Facebook, then you may have even seen my status update: “Waiting for my new jeans to arrive is worse than how I remember waiting for Santa to come!” I rarely get stoked about clothes shopping, but I felt confident that the jeans I ordered would work. As soon as they landed on my doorstep, I rushed to rip open the package and unload its contents.
Utter disappointment flooded my body as I tried on the first pair. They were all wrong. The color was okay, but the seams that outlined the pants resembled a chalked out body that police draw around dead people. It was bad. Then the actual pants themselves felt as though the seamstress got bored or tired (in reality, it probably was some small child forced to work in a terribly conditioned sweatshop), so I decided to sew straight lines for the legs. I am self-conscious about having the thigh go straight down and not give any contour to the leg itself. This comes from having large thighs and not wanting to look like I have elephant legs. At the encouragement of my husband to try out the other pair, I opened the next package. They were okay, but I was already disheartened by the first pair. I may actually need to try them on again just to see how I feel about them now.
[At this point, I understand that I sound like the worse person in the world. I recently found out that my dad’s mission organization placed another water well in Kenya. That is far more important than my finding a new pair of jeans. I also realize that elephantiasis is a real thing. So if you find this post to be completely shallow, then please move on to another blog. I am having a human moment, and this is a cathartic release for me. However, if you stick to the end, you may not be disappointed.]
This is when the mental shift began to take place. Something that I had positively anticipated now came and was stealing every ounce of joy that was within me, and I was letting it. Like anger, bitterness, envy, grief, depression, anxiety, all of the things that I try to control by suppressing deep into my soul, this feeling of rejection and inadequacy began to seep through the cracks of its compartment that I had plastered within myself. It seems silly, that a pair of jeans can cause such a downward spiral of self-esteem and attitude, but this is the item to which I misplaced my security and self-confidence. Like a drug addict waiting for that next hit to feel that high, I was wanting this pair of jeans to assure me that I was still beautiful and not that fat. As a plus size woman, clothes can immediately lift your spirits because you finally found something that fit (which for me is rare), or can be instantly depressing.
I find that I put my security in many things, but rarely do I hold it firm to the security found in Christ. As a parent, I place much of my identity on the behaviors of my children. Anyone who has been around children for more than five minutes, knows that this is like placing it on the shifting sands of the tide. They are moody, and even the best, most well-mannered children have moments of tantrums and meltdowns. I also find my identity of being a wife in the happiness of my husband. This is why when he is upset with me or annoyed by me, I instantly start wondering what is wrong with me and how can I change for him. At Crossfit, I misplace my identity in Wodify (our whiteboard that shows our times and weights) instead of my own abilities and completing the workout.
Sometimes we have to find a reset button within us, center, and refocus. As a Christian, this reset button is found in our identity with Christ. When I take a moment to remember all that God has done for me, how He has been with me every step (Joshua 1:9), and that His love is unfaltering (Psalm 36:7), then I can take a moment to revel in that I am wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). When I am resting in God’s assurance of who I am, then I can handle a moment of disappointment. When I am resting in His grace and mercy, a moment of failure does not have to define who I am or who I will become. Grief can be countered by the Hope of the Resurrection. Those moments of insecurity, restlessness, sorrow, rejection are all a part of being human. We all experience these times of growth where we are stretched and sharpened. However, we must not stay in these moments, but rather use them as we press forward into greater and deeper relationships with this world and with God.
So yeah, I am having a fat day, but I am not defined by this. My motherhood does not rise and fall based off of one stupid pair of jeans. My husband finds me no less attractive than before. The world did not stop turning because I got angry that many stores do not carry my size and it is a real struggle to find cute clothes. Sure, this was disappointing; and yes, I will probably hate clothes shopping for a while. However, I needed a reset big time. I needed to be reminded that though my feelings are important, I am not defined by my emotions that come and go faster than how quickly the moon rises and falls each night. My identity comes from who God says that I am, someone important enough for Jesus to suffer a humiliating, horrific death. Daily, I only need to be still, and I can hear the Holy Spirit remind me of where I have come from, where I am going, and who I am to be.
*Image source: http://www.eeveelife.co.uk