I have this pair of dress pants that I wear to the office that are truly magical. Their tag indicates that they are actually two sizes smaller than I currently wear, yet they fit (in the loosest sense of the word) at my largest–two sizes larger than I am now. They’ve seen their share of wear and tear from daily wear, survived the great Velcro debacle of ten weeks in a boot cast last year, and have served their owner well. Today, I regretfully retire these pants. It’s time. They’ve served me well, have always been super comfortable, but in some ways have done me a disservice. They don’t allow me to see the tangible changes in myself that I have earned over the last nine months. They don’t allow me the measuring stick of “how well my clothes fit” because they have always fit me. Rest in peace, magic pants. We shall never meet again.
Yes, the magic pants are retired, but I am not sitting here at my desk pants-less. I nervously pulled a pair of black dress pants off the hanger this morning with bated breath. The last time I tried these pants on about a year ago when I ordered them, I was crushed that they didn’t fit, that they were skin tight and I had no prayer of pulling them off in public. The tag doesn’t reflect (what tag ever does?) the size that I wear because this clothing brand is very inconsistent in their sizing, but I slipped on these pants this morning. They fit perfectly. No pulling, no tightness, just perfect fit with the right amount of room in all the right spots. Victory! I’m super excited for magic pants 2.0 because these are super durable pants, which will carry me through our “crazy season” where I’m dressed for work 12-14 hours a day for six weeks, occasionally even sleeping in them (just bein’ honest!). And hopefully by the end of crazy season, I’ll be staring down the barrel of another smaller size–which when I reach, I have a plethora of clothing in this size range and won’t have to worry about finding something that fits well.
I’m so grateful. I earnestly praise and worship God for these little victories. I have not done this alone. I was recently in a setting surrounded by a lot of friends and colleagues that haven’t seen me since I’ve started taking care of myself and received a lot of compliments. It felt good, not gonna lie about that, but at the same time it was extremely awkward in my mind. Who doesn’t like to receive a compliment? We all do! We like to know we’re doing something right. But at the same time, the negative committee that meets in my head was not in a nice way reminding me that my success is not of my own will. I’ve done the footwork, I’ve been obedient, and there are some aspects in which that is praiseworthy–but the end result, the outward appearance, is God’s work–not mine. I’m not a graceful person, I lack a lot of social graces, and knowing this I simply accepted compliments and moved on with life. I started to feel guilty because I wasn’t giving verbal credit to where credit was due–to God working hard in my life. Each compliment I’ve received, I send a silent prayer praising God for His work in my life, but that feels so inadequate–I want to be able to give God the immediate glory at all times and in all situations where He is clearly working in my life to make me a better follower of Christ.
That too sends some warning flares up in my mind. One of my many pet peeves is Christians that continually come out pointing to themselves and their accomplishments and professing this is what God has done in their life. There’s a fine line–we need to be giving credit to God when credit is due, but when we go to excess, continually bringing attention to the situation–how much is really the work of God and how much is the person’s desire to cover up what still needs to be worked on in their lives? Ouch. Yeah, we are in a serious grey area. I wish I had an answer in this situation, I don’t. I pray on it a lot. I want to be transparent and authentic. I haven’t always been like this, so it’s new territory for me. I’m going to mess up in this area as I learn to find the balance. I want it to be quick on my tongue to give God the glory for His redemptive work in me, but not to the point where it squashes the effectiveness of the message. Christ should be seen in me, not my mouth being His billboard. My mouth gets me in trouble way more often than I care to admit, and I never, ever, ever want to be in a situation where I can be called a hypocrite because the words of my mouth don’t meet the godly life I preach. As St. Francis of Assisi is credited for saying, “Preach the gospel, and when necessary, use words.” (There are several variations of this quote, don’t shoot the messenger–it doesn’t change the sentiment)
God, allow my words to be few and my actions to speak of my faith in You. You alone have done a great work in me and I am forever grateful for Your presence through the Holy Spirit that keeps me putting one foot in front of the other each day. I am never alone. I praise You for the work You have done in me and the changes yet to come. Allow me to be a reflection of Christ in all things and to be an instrument of grace in the lives of others. Lord, You know the desires of my heart–help me to keep my eyes fixed on You and Your will for my life. Amen.