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.