I’m not a big fan of shopping. Nothing ever fits, all the skirts are too short, and I have broad shoulders. I’m a get in and get out sort of girl and if I can find something that doesn’t make me want to climb into my closet and never come out again, that’s an achievement. I prepared for this particular shopping trip with slight trepidation and hopeful expectation of trying on enough stuff to find something that actually makes me look good.
Little did I know that God had other plans.
Oh, don’t mistake me… I made it shopping, I tried on several dozen pieces of clothing (and whined) and actually walked out of the store with more clothes than when I entered and less money in my pocket. That’s not the point. The point is the lesson I got the dressing room.
No, it was not that all women are beautiful, that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, or any of that sanctimonious rot we tell ourselves to pretend that we don’t believe looks matter. No, the lesson God slammed me over the head with is something I have been struggling with all summer, not quite ready to admit what it was but unwilling to let it go, a nagging suspicion that became one sentence this week, delivered by my mother. You see, she was also trying on clothes, and after complaining about a particular pair of pants, she chucked them over the partition at me and said, “I think these would work for you; try them on.”
I tried them on and what do you know, they made me look good. In fact, I even had to go down a size (which always makes me feel great until I remember that they have made all sizes smaller in an effort to make us feel better… I hate those people). I stepped into the hall to examine myself in the three way mirror. Mom popped out behind me and said, “And what have we learned from this experience?”
“Uh… to try fitted-waist Lee jeans?”
“No, that you need to shop in the womens’ department.”
Ouch. I let that sink in until I had to admit she’s right… I’ve been shopping in the “cute” section of the store and since I am no longer a teenager, those styles neither fit nor flatter me anymore. But really, my recognition was about much more than out of habit (or possibly denial) shopping in a part of the store that is no longer where I should be—it was an admission that if I am hanging onto immaturity in one aspect of my life, I may be allowing it into other areas as well. This was not particularly fun, because once I sat down and looked at my life without rose-colored glasses on, I could plainly see areas in which I am reluctant to grow up and hanging on to childish things. Looking at my peers, I don’t think it’s just me who has trouble with this.
The apostle Paul talks about acting as a child when he was one but then as an adult putting aside childish things. He was speaking to a group of people who were childish in their faith. In many respects, my generation still clings to childish things: behaviors, attitudes, habits, and the ultimate belief that yes, life really is all about us.
This revelation in the dressing room was not sprung on me without warning; God had been hinting at it all summer, as I tried to figure out why I was suddenly so uncomfortable with and even ashamed of so many former interests and habits. Life is all about progression, moving forward… if we remain in one place in any area of our life, from what department we shop in to our knowledge of scripture or even the nature of our lasting relationships, we are not living up to our full potential. We all have blind spots, areas in which we are more mature than others. I haven’t played with My Little Pony in a long time, but disagreeing with someone still makes me just as angry at them now as it did when I was still reading through the YA section of the library. That isn’t good. It isn’t healthy. Everything about me should change, from my reading habits to my fashion choices.
We all struggle with change, and I think that may be why so many of us refuse to grow up in various areas of our life; it is a reluctance to face a brand new existence, one that is far more serious because it is mindful of our smallness and our ultimate reliance on God.
Funny, what a pair of pants and a five second conversation with your mom can teach you.