“Your butt looks really great in those pants.”
These words were spoken to me by my then-boyfriend in January, 2006. I remember them clearly because back then my worth was still tied up in such things.
The yoga pants were new. They fit me just right, sitting at the hip with a cute fold of pink fabric, the black cotton and lycra legs falling just past my heel. I felt good wearing them and it felt good to be noticed in them.
Seven months earlier my marriage had ended. I’d had enough of the emotional and mental abuse, the alcoholism and lies. When I left that past June I hadn’t had the strength to shop for paper towels. My husband had controlled every aspect of my life, so on my first shopping trip alone I broke down in the paper towel aisle at Walmart. I had to learn how to be independent after years of being under such stringent control. And so, buying those pants was one of many empowering moments in those early days of discovering who I was and who God was.
I often got the two confused, and I placed myself in a greater place of hierarchy.
The fact that I was pleased that my boyfriend liked my butt and that I found such validation in the comment was really an indication of how far I had to go in my faith walk.
As long as he like my butt, life was good.
That, of course, didn’t last. Soon after that day he went chasing after some other girl’s butt, leaving me devastated and emotionally crippled for years. And that is NOT an exaggeration.
That’s what happens when we put our faith in people and things. When they let us down – and they will! – the devastation chips away at the core of who we are. My identity was defined by whether or not my boyfriend loved me. God was courting me at that same time, offering me identity in Him, but I chose instead to put God in the friendzone and I pursued worldly pleasures that offered instant gratification.
I know it’s a bit strange to be thinking of yoga pants that I bought 11 years ago, but a funny thing happened this morning… I woke up, and as I do most mornings, I opened my dresser drawer to pull out some clothes to do yoga in. My hand landed on the soft, worn fabric of those same pants.
Usually I pass them by with no more than a thought that I really need to get rid of old clothes. But this morning I put them on. They fit a bit differently. I sighed a little as I reminisced on the body I had at 28. No one would be complimenting my butt now.
As I started my yoga practice, I noticed the fabric was wispy thin, worn out from countless trips through the washing machine. Various holes peppered the material and the hems were frayed. But there was a sort of comfort in them because of these imperfections, and although I looked differently than I did all those years ago, I still felt good in them.
But for very different reasons.
I couldn’t help but think of how apt a metaphor these pants are for the last 11 years of my life and my walk with God.
There is comfort in our brokenness, in the holes that wear through us, and in the stretching we endure as we are “washed” through our trials.
And as I look at my life now, I see the ways God has brought me comfort that could only be possible because of the brokenness I endured. I’m now married to an amazing, godly man, I have a call for ministry on my life, and I’m pursuing dreams that once seemed out of reach. This comfort doesn’t mean my life is easy – far from it! But my my life is anchored in faith, which gives me the peace and security I spent my entire life yearning for.
Eleven years ago I would have given everything for an easy life. I was desperate for my then-boyfriend to marry me and take care of me because I was scared to be alone. Instead, God led me through ten years of singleness, so that I would learn to rely on Him for my needs. Once I finally let go and let God court me, seeking to learn from the pain instead of run from it, I eventually found the true sense of independence, security, and comfort.
There was a lot of resistance, struggle and heartache along the way, and today I am grateful for those trials. When Chris broke up with me, I thought I would die, but now I’m grateful for the “holes” that tore through my false perceptions of “the good life.” These holes led me to greater holiness in my character and a more secure identity in Christ.
I’m still a work in progress, smack dab in the middle of a difficult life transition and trying desperately to cling to hope as I set out to see my long-standing dreams come to life. I have two records playing in my head constantly. The first says, “Why should your dreams come true now? You’re a failure. You wrote two books that failed, have been at this for 20 years with no success. Now you’re getting older and probably won’t even be around much longer, anyway. You should never have quit your job. Why are you making your family suffer for your silly pipe dreams? What were you thinking?”
But then the second record plays: “You are my beloved, my treasured princess. I set in you a purpose so great you wouldn’t believe me if I told you the whole of it. I am for you, and I have an amazing plan for your life. Your obedience to me has honored me, and I will honor my promises to you. Just trust in me and watch what I will do in you and through you.”
And so, I needed this reminder today. It serves as a lesson that we needn’t fear the “holes” along the journey. What is meant to wear out will wear out, but in the process, what is meant to endure will endure if we will allow the pain to shape us.