While I was away a few weeks ago, I noticed some of my pants were getting kinda saggy and baggy. You know, when they sag so much in the butt, you feel like your pants are falling down, causing the inside of your thighs to be chaffed and chapped? When things are just rubbing the wrong way? When you’re constantly pulling your pants up? This often happens with me. I am so self-conscious of my figure. My insecurities and the fact that no pair of pants will fit my body exactly the way I want. A pair of pants may fit perfect in the rear but are too big in the waist. Or they fit good in the waist and they’re too baggy in the butt. Ugh!
So, a few days after my return I drove myself over to my favorite clothing store, thinking, “I need some new pants.” Well, once I got there. I browsed around. Please tell me you do this too? Sometimes I wish I can be like my husband and only go in for what we need and then get out. No, I succumbed to all the PRETTY. All the CUTE. The NEWEST STYLES. I found myself getting some pants (a size smaller, YEAH!), along with some other things that I did not need.
This was a problem area for me years ago. Shopping. Excessively. In the past I struggled so much, it became an addiction. I fell into the “approval of others” trap. I would shop every pay day. I would try to justify my shopping habit “I shopped at Target or Mervyn’s” (anyone remember that store?), or I’d tell my hubby the famous words, “It was on sale” or I’d say, “Oh, I’ve had this blouse, I just haven’t worn it in a while.” Anyone? I would hide the shopping bags. I would cringe when the hubby would look at the checking account that was dwindling or the credit card bills that seemed to be climbing due to my addiction.
This year I had pledged to no longer buy unless I was in dire straits or in great need. I told myself, “I don’t need any more clothes.” This pledge lasted until this month. I kicked that goal right out the door, without even thinking twice. Do you ever find your mind and will doing something without any thought? Like some force is drawing you in, almost feeling like you’re another person? This is what it felt like. At least this is what I wanted to blame this shopping spree on anyway.
I came home and unpacked my clothes and the hubby notices. He gives me so much grace after all I have done in the past and in our marriage. I told him I just wanted to look “cute and cool” for my 47 year old, plump self. He just kinda gave me a look. Not really rolling his eyes or giving me a look of anger, just a kind, “I hope you know what you’re doing” or that “I hope you don’t get in too deep” while telling me I am beautiful the way I am. He’s so cute isn’t he? Calling me his “Hot Mama” when he could have scolded me.
Low and behold, the next morning in my Bible study, I was looking over the previous Sunday’s sermon notes and one of the key scriptures smacked me right between the eyes, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence…” (Matthew 23:25). My heart sank. If I hadn’t been at work, I would have just got right down on my knees and laid myself at the feet of Jesus. So, in my little cubicle I sat at my desk with the posture of my heart being in this position. I was so convicted. I felt horrible. Those words haunted my mind, “I just want to look cute and cool” and then “Greed” and “Self-indulgence” seemed to just scream at me and pierce my heart so deep.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.”
After going before the Lord, expressing my praise and thankfulness for all he has done and provided. All that he has gotten us through, financially and everything, I repented. I confessed. I asked him to clean up my heart. My selfishness. My self-indulgence. My wanting to look “cute and cool” according to the world’s standard. I asked the Lord to forgive me for being so worried about the exterior of my cup and dish and for not checking the inside, my heart.
And this, only days after I had just returned from a trip to a third-world country. A place where people had so little. A place where there was so much need and here I was buying things I didn’t need and worrying about my looks. Now, I have read articles that would help people coming back from a mission trip abroad warning us not to sell everything or to feel guilty as we acclimate to our world here. Friends, I did. I felt guilty. I experienced something on this trip that changed me, that broke my heart and my soul. I saw the needs and they are so great. I know the needs. I was getting down on myself saying, “I could have given that money to them. Why am I indulging others have so little?”
“Don’t let your beauty consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and wearing gold jewelry,
but rather what is inside the heart —
the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet
spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
1 Peter 3:3-4
This is where God’s grace came in. This is where my husband’s grace and listening, loving ears and words came in. After repenting before the Lord, I asked my husband for his forgiveness (even though he had not seen the actual physical damage I had done in buying more than I actually needed). The Lord reminded me that I am not to fill guilty. He reminded me that my heart was still good and pure because I still had the desire to serve him and still thought of his people. He reminded me that I don’t have to feel bad with every shopping trip, even though I had just come from this trip and wanted to rally and do something for them. He doesn’t want me to stop living over here. He affirmed my identity in him and not in the world or its opinions of me and the way I look.
Gals, if you find yourself in a similar situation, whether it be worrying about how you look, how your home looks, or something else that may be causing you to feel guilty, this is the beauty of God’s Word. It is meant to bring light to our heart and our sin, whether we feel the sinful nature or not. Even when we feel it is so terrible that we think we can’t go before him. God knows everything we do, everything we think, everything we say. God knows our heart when we make silly mistakes or do something that feels selfish like overspending. God knows that when we say “I just want to look cute and cool,” he knows the posture of our heart and our soul. He knows when our actions don’t quite line up with our heart. That’s why he calls us to him. That’s why he gives us his Word to bring awareness or to give us the little tap on the shoulder, so we can come before him. He is available for a simple conversation, and he gets us back on the right path. HIS path.
I encourage you to set yourself before the Lord, give him your everything, your mess ups, your mistakes, your silly actions. Ask him to check your heart for any sin you may not even know about, so it can be dealt with, so he can remind you of your identity in him, which is all that matters. Let him remind you that you are “cute and cool” on the inside and out. Allow him to remind you that you are beautiful no matter what, how saggy your pants are in the butt or what you look like on the outside.
Imagine a coffee cup. I think of my coffee cup at work after I’ve left it a few days. It starts looking like a science project in the making. What does it look like on the outside? How about the inside? Does the outside of the cup match the inside? Does your outward appearance or actions line up with the matters of your heart?
I have missed you so much, friends. Holding you in my prayers.
Hugging you so tight,