When Your Pants and Your Life Don’t Fit

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J_Abby

I was asking God to help me lose weight. Instead He made me buy bigger pants.

You see, I had been praying to God that my pants would fit. Not those words exactly, but for sure I had been praying all around that topic. God give me more discipline, more will power, help me to resist the cookie, give me good rest, help me to wake up early to run. God, PLEASE let the number on the scale be smaller than it was yesterday.

I really needed my pants to fit. They weren’t not buttoning or indecently tight, but they were making me uncomfortable, these size eight pants of mine. I had to suck in to button up. I had marks on myself at the end of the day. My pants just plain didn’t feel good, and y’all, I want my pants to feel good. Because my pants weren’t just making my skin feel bad, they were making me feel bad.

Every time my pants were too tight I was reminded that my body doesn’t look exactly like it used to. I guess I could blame it on the kids, but if you lose it once and gain some back, it is probably a little disingenuous to call it baby weight. The truth is I am a stress eater. I eat my feelings, and I have big feelings. They taste like chocolate, biscuits, and the salty sweet goodness that is chicago mix popcorn. (Emotional eating pro tip: Trader Joe’s has a caramel cheese mix that is completely perfect.)

I hadn’t lost the 15 pounds I gained when my grandparents died within a year of each other. But that isn’t the only thing contributing to my pants being too tight. I finally learned to cook and I am awesome at it. I turned 30, and sure enough my metabolism slowed down. My day job, plus four- and three-year-old daughters, plus a husband in graduate school don’t exactly leave a lot of room for the gym. Especially not with this writing dream of mine that won’t let me go.

So I checked my emotional eating, I cut back on the evening wine, I only ate when I was hungry. I drank a lot of water. Two months later, only five pounds gone. I was feeling better about my body and the choices I was making. My doctor told me I was healthy … and yet, my pants. still. didn’t. fit.

At the local discount clothing chain I got real with myself and only took size 10s into the dressing room. The first two pairs were perfect. Perfect. They looked great and I could breathe and pick things up off the floor.

Turns out, I am still learning how to make choices that make my body feel good. And one of those choices is bigger pants.

There isn’t anything wrong with my body. God says there is no flaw in me. God created this body of mine perfectly, and he delights in it, and it isn’t that those old pants were bad … they just didn’t fit anymore. I know God doesn’t have anything against size eight pants because pants are just pants, and my body—my whole self—was perfectly created by God! If the pants don’t fit, maybe it is the pants that are the problem.

The pants aren’t the only thing that aren’t fitting in my life. I have been a teacher for eight years, and slowly, the ways I have changed and the ways the profession have changed are leaving me uncomfortable. For about two years I thought it was me. I thought that I needed to change the shape of my convictions, of my relational interactions. I needed to have smaller feelings and care more about numbers and percentages.

I thought I just needed to suck it all in, my whole self. But this behavior is not without consequences. There are whole days I am completely uncomfortable, and recently I have started waking up in the middle of the night with the pain and stress of it.

Unfortunately, they don’t sell New Life plans at the discount store near my house. I am not in the place right now that I can just up and quit my job. (Who, besides the girl in the rom-com, is ever in that place?!) I still have to be the breadwinner and the insurance carrier while my husband finishes school over the next year. So even if it isn’t these pants, like I tell my daughters, we still have to wear pants if we are going to go to the grocery store.

This year in my final evaluation I said, No, thank you- to the professional training I was offered. I am normally a pretty compliant employee, so when I declined the offer my direct supervisor looked up at me in surprise. I took a shaky breath, looked at the empty wall to the left of his ear and told him I didn’t want to be a teacher anymore.

It totally sucked.

But then I felt free. I don’t have to pretend this is a good fit for me. There isn’t anything wrong with me. It’s just that this job doesn’t fit me any more.

It is hard to admit when the pants we once loved are making us feel bad–jobs we got a degree for, relationships that were once life-giving, places that represented our hopes and dreams. It isn’t that those things are bad, they just don’t fit who we are. Maybe they don’t fit anymore, or maybe they never did at all and we couldn’t admit it. We have been squeezing and holding our breath, punishing ourselves into making it fit for awhile, but that’s not a healthy way to live. God does not want us to live with burning red marks on our spirits. I think it grieves Him to see us like this.

We have permission to grow out of things, to change in ways we never thought we would. This can be hard and uncomfortable, but it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with us. If there is something in our lives that is restricting us in ways that hurt, maybe it isn’t us that needs to change.

Buy the bigger pants, sister. I promise, you’ll look and feel amazing in them. It isn’t you, made perfectly in the image of God, who needs to change. It’s the pants.

______________

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Abby Norman
Abby Norman lives, and loves in the city of Atlanta. She lives with her two hilarious children and a husband that doubles as her biggest fan. When not mothering, teaching, parenting or “wifeing”, she blogs at accidentaldevotional.com. Abby loves to make up words and is excited by the idea that Miriam Webster says you can verb things.
Abby Norman

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  • Saskia Wishart

    This made me laugh Abby! “I eat my feelings, and I have big feelings.” also… we still need to wear pants when we go to the grocery store. Brilliant. I still need someone to tell me that.

    Yesterday I put on a pair of pants and they were too tight, like awkwardly so, and I felt really bummed about it… And I haven’t had any babies. It’s alllll on me.

    But seriously, I like how you took something like illfittimg pants, and applied it to give us permission to grow and change in all the other areas of our lives. I am excited to see what God is moving you into next! And I am sure you will look and feel sooo much better in the new pants!

    • Abby Norman

      Thank you! And be gentle with your body. They are DESIGNED to change, they aren’t supposed to look the same at 30 or 26 or whatever as they do at 16.

  • Kelly Hausknecht Chripczuk

    I’m still learning this one: “We have permission to grow out of things, to change in ways we never thought we would.”

    • Abby Norman

      Me too. I am learning that too.

  • Natalie Hart

    I love this so very much. Yes, pants that fit — both actual pants and figurative pants — are a revelation, especially when we’re soldiering through with pants that don’t fit. Love to you in your remaining time of insurance carrying.

    • Abby Norman

      YES! It is hard. But good, and I am itching to try on new pants.

  • So wise.
    “If there is something in our lives that is restricting us in ways that hurt, maybe it isn’t us that needs to change.”
    I’m getting this message spray painted across my days right now, but you have made it fun! Thank you un-closeting those pants and all the stuff that goes with them.

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  • cjdeboer

    Simply awesome!

  • I know what that ill-fitting life feels like. I had to let mine go. I just discovered Parker Palmer a few months ago. Last month, I read his book Let Your Life Speak. It is so, so good. He speaks about the “fundamental misfit” between the career he had chosen and who he really is. He says: “Lacking insight into my own limits and potentials, I had allowed ego and ethics to lead me into a situation that my could could not abide.” That was me too. Letting go of those expectations and giving myself space to learn to listen to what it is that I am made for has been so healing. I hope that you find peace and freedom.

    • Abby Norman

      Oh I just love this. Thank you!

  • Suzanne Terry

    Abby, this is so good. I have a dress in mind that may not be long for this world. I have called it “my favorite dress” for a long time. I have had it and loved it since I was twenty, but I just don’t love it now that my body is twenty years wiser. This post helped me think it might be time to admit it’s not my favorite anymore.

    • Abby Norman

      It is so easy to tell OTHER people, jsut pick a new favorite! But so hard to actually do it.

      • Denise

        Pick a new favorite. That tiny sentence won’t leave me alone.
        Thanks.

  • Alexa Morris

    Perfect. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • HBurns

    Oh my…. this is just so, so great. I know all of us can identify in someway to the powerful truths you share here, whether it is our bodies, our jobs or the way life ‘feels’ right now. So brilliant…’We have permission to grow out of things, to change in ways we never thought we would.’ Permission Granted! xo

    • Abby Norman

      Even though I am the one writing it, it is so hard for me to live that part out.

  • Stefanie

    Brilliant! Love this. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jeannine Duval

    I think you have made a brilliant choice. Sometimes we have to get SO uncomfortable we HAVE to make a change. For yourself, and those that love you, keeping true to the silent but screaming inner revelations will make everyone happier. Sad for the kids that won’t know you as their teacher, but it is not worth sucking the life out of you.

    • Abby Norman

      It makes me so sad in a lot of ways. But I trust a new path is a good one.

  • SO goooooooood, Abby! I bought bigger pants too. 🙂

    • Abby Norman

      WE WILL NOT BE CONTAINED!

  • Helen

    Love, love, love this. Thank you. : )

  • I could not love this more. And now I want to go up and throw out my ‘someday’ pile in the closet, along with a few ill-fitting commitments. Thanks Abby.

    • Abby Norman

      the pants part I did last week, the commitments part is harder, lets do it togehter.

  • Lindsey Smallwood

    Yes, who besides that romcom girl gets to throw out her life and pursue a new one? On the days when I dream about that, maybe instead I’ll be trying to notice if there’s one part that doesn’t fit, something I’ve outgrown that I can move past. Thanks for this Abby, beautiful words as always.

    • Abby Norman

      I will be teaching again next fall but even just saying THIS is not a good fit, and it isn’t me. That helps, even if we have to wear the pants for a little bit.

  • Love this Abby. So good. Thanks for reminding us we have permission to grow…everywhere!

  • Sherry Williams-Basham

    I have tears in my eyes…. it’s as if you read my mind (and my heart). Many thanks. ♡

    • Abby Norman

      It is hard. It is just really hard. Praying for you.

  • JClif

    I’m actually buying smaller pants and have to keep buying them.. This would normally be a wonderful thing. However, the only reason I can think of is that I am so stressed out with teaching that it is flaring my chronic illness. I haven’t had an appetite in a over a year. (Sounds great but it would be nice to enjoy some food again.) Majorly stressed. Although I don’t take pleasure in anyone else’s struggle, it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one that feels it’s an uncomfortable fit. Praying for changes for us all.

    • Abby Norman

      I so get this. I am hoping something changes, and soon.

  • Julia Parrish

    Abby,
    Your beautiful words resonated with my spirit. I’ve been in a season of “outgrowing my pants”, spiritually speaking. The very foundations of my faith have been shaken and I was scared to embrace the changes that brought. Learning that some things I’d been taught weren’t in line with Scripture was both terrifying and liberating for me. I no longer need all of the answers. Instead, I put on my big girl pants and open my arms to all that Love has to offer. Freely I’ve received, so freely I give. Thank you for sharing!

    • Abby Norman

      God will meet you in the new pants. Promise.

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  • Chris

    I’ve been in this place at least four or five times, and been the better for the change. Kudos to you for finding your new literal and figurative pants!

  • Amy Sauder

    The timeliness of this post! I’ve been struggling the past two weeks with the realization the job I thought was the perfect fit is actually about 3 sizes too small and 3 sizes too large all at once. Thank you for just speaking out about that, and that its okay. Maybe I can find a non-rom-com way into something that fits soon 🙂

    • Abby Norman

      three sizes both ways. I so get this.

  • Thank you so much. This was very encouraging in all the best ways. So much love to you, Abby. You set free with your words.

    • Abby Norman

      you too. you set me free too.

  • This is so good! Both in the literal sense – with our changing bodies, and the metaphorical significance. Why do we fear change so much? Blessings to your new paths!

  • seroquel

    Recently I had to take time off work because all of a sudden,the job I loved,the job I felt called to do left me stressed. I honestly thought this was my dream,i was overwhelmed by my emotions when I didn’t want to be there anymore. My BP went sky high( I’m a healthy person) for days on end. I didn’t understand how what I thought was my passion could make me sick?! So I’m at home reading your post and dissecting the fact that maybe just maybe these pants don’t fit. Thanks for this post

    • Abby Norman

      This is SO BRUTAL. I am praying for you today.

  • I just love this whole article Abby. You’re speaking straight to my heart. New pants it is then. Uggghhhhh. But so worth it because I’m worth it. Reading this was a breath of fresh air!

    • Abby Norman

      I’m so glad. YOU are so often a space for breath for me.

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  • Sandy Hay

    WOW Abby. you are talking to many of us…young and “older.;)” Thank you.

  • Erin Wilson

    “I thought I just needed to suck it all in, my whole self. ”

    This line…oh, this is the one sticking with me. Oy.

    • Abby Norman

      The whole world tells us this. It is a lie.

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  • MaryAnn

    My experience went something like this:

    I needed new pants. My old pants did not fit. They did not feel good, and I could not pretend they even looked good. But I refused to get new pants.

    Me: “Nope, nope, nope, these pants are fine. Love ’em. Everyone else is wearing them. Why would I want new pants?”

    I truly believe that God was rooting for me to wave good-bye to those pants of my own volition, but that is not my style. So the pants were taken from me!

    ME: WHAT? NO PANTS? I HAVE WORN PANTS SINCE 1992 RIGHT OUT OF COLLEGE WHERE I EARNED MY DEGREE IN PANTS-WEARING I WAS PANTS-WEARER OF THE YEAR TWICE I HAVE MENTORED STUDENT PANTS-WEARERS AND BEGINNING PANTS-WEARERS WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE HELP PLEASE.

    I spent two months wondering about my post-pants life. Could I wear skirts?…shorts?… culottes?…(it was a dark two months). And as it turns out, I was led to the next pair of pants in a store that I would never ever have considered shopping in before the great Pants-Off of 2013.

    I’ve been wearing this pair of pants now for 2 years, and they are perfect – for right now. Some day, I will outgrow them, and I am hopeful that when it is time to say good-bye, I will remember how good it feels to trust God and know that we will go pants-shopping together.

    TL/DR: Right on, Abby.

  • Bev Murrill

    Brilliant post Abby… I love that instead of selfpity you’ve got resolve and hope for the way forward… that’s the secret… nothing ever remains the same…even a girlish waist! (Have you ever seen a 60 year old woman with a girlish waist… she looks dreadful)

  • Carol Fulghum Silver

    Everyone deserves to be comfortable! Get over that number sewn on the waistband and check out how you look in the mirror. You are still slim and young, smart, pretty, and talented, and if you stop thinking about those dumb old pants, you will see this!

  • pastordt

    LOVE this post, Abby. Exactly right. Exactly. Get the bigger size, lose the job (when you can) and live content with who you are becoming. Thank you.

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  • meg

    This is a great post. I have always been holding on to friends who don’t return my calls or texts back. People who I have known for five years or more. I learned that relationships morph. They need to let go. Maybe I need to let go to. I hate change of any kind. I resist it. But change is often for the best. Unfortunatley, God usually has to yank things out of my hand.

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  • Love this! Thanks Abby. (Just wish I knew what to do when I am ‘between sizes’ -ha!)