There are very few things more anxiety inducing than a fitting room.
Why do we even call them fitting rooms in the first place? It’s already setting me up for failure. “Fitting room” makes it sound like a tiny box of torture where you have to shrink down to size.
Oh wait, that’s exactly what it is.
Part of me thinks the longer I peruse the store, the more time I spend walking around, then maybe those extra twenty steps will cause me to lose five more magical pounds before I enter said torture chamber. I pretend the mirrors are those fun house mirrors that make you look gigantic, which seems to be the best explanation as to why I look terrible in this crop top.
Oh wait, I’ve never looked cute in a crop top. And no, I didn’t lose the magical five pounds by browsing Madewell for two hours. And yes, I still manage to get really sweaty whenever I try on clothes. Consider this a formal apology to anyone who has tried on the same pair of pants after I have. I promise I didn’t just go for a run, trying on clothes really does cause me an obscene amount of stress.
And I had to wrestle those pants on like Steve Irwin, rest in peace, with a rogue alligator.
As a woman I’ve never really asked the question “am I enough?” I know a lot of people do, but for some reason being enough has never been a tough subject for me.
Quite often I find myself asking, “am I too much?”
My entire life has been fighting excess, fighting the battle of being “too much.” Don’t weigh too much, don’t talk too much, don’t eat too much, don’t drink too much, don’t think too much, don’t expose too much.
Don’t be too much.
For a number of years I’ve been desperately afraid of being excessive, of being over the top. I've tried to make everything, from my body to my emotions, as compact as I possibly can.
I’ve spent so long trying to be smaller, trying to be less than who I really am.
I pretended to not know the answers in class because I didn’t want to be too smart. I obsessed over my calorie intake because I didn’t want to eat too much. I exercised and tried every fitness regime Pinterest could afford because I was terrified of weighing too much. I did drink a little too much a few too many times, and I still feel a disproportionate amount of shame for allowing myself to get “out of control” and be “too ____,” particularly too drunk.
And it wasn’t just the physical stuff like grades and my body. Eventually I became guarded and jaded. Don’t get too emotional, don’t share too much. Don’t expose yourself. Definitely don’t try too hard, or be too clingy. Forget being too aggressive or too independent. Don’t call too much, don’t care too much, don’t go too far, don't hook up with too many guys. Then it was don't be too Christian or too worldly, too, too, too.
Instead of living out of the fullness of who I am I became a shell of who I thought I should be.
That shell was very tiny, very small. It was never out of control or out of line. Everything got smaller and smaller until the things that made me me seemed to disappear. I thought that if I could make myself smaller that it would make me more lovable in every way.
I wasn’t myself anymore. I was jaded and calculated. Every part of me was afraid to laugh as loud as I wanted or cry as hard as I needed. Food wasn’t fun; it felt like a monster begging me to overindulge. My body was not longer a friend but a villain that I couldn’t get under control. I was living out of the place that wasn’t me, and it was more anxiety inducing than the Madewell dressing room.
When I didn’t think I could make myself any smaller, when I realized I had come to the end of who I thought I was and who I really am I heard the most freeing whisper.
“I am big enough for you to be big.”
The sentence knocked the wind out of me. I burst into tears then, and am crying even now, at the very thought.
Christ is big enough for me to be big.
He is the God of the universe. He is beyond funny, because he created humor. He eats too much because he sits at a banquet table where he longs for us to join him. He probably drinks too much too (I see you with the whole water to wine bit Jesus, real smooth). He’s beyond big because by no stretch of our imagination could we shrink him down to size.
Christ cares way too much. He grieves way too much. He pursues way too much. He wants us too much, loves us too much, thinks about us too much. He is extravagant in every way possible.
Christ, being firmly rooted in who he is, can afford for me to be exactly who I am.
So I want to try really hard to get back to myself. I heard once that you have to get lost to really be found, and man did I lose myself when I tried to be small.
My real self, my best self laughs a little too loud and eats too many cupcakes. My real self cares about people a lot, and gets really invested in relationships. My best self weighs more than I would like to and isn’t afraid to double or, dare I say, triple text someone. My real self cries a lot, and grieves deeply and passionately. My best self wants to extravagantly love others.
I guess what I want to say is we don’t have to get small with Jesus. I think that comes naturally, as a part of your relationship. The harder things about us start to fall away and I think he takes them on, because he’s so big and way too much to handle. So we’ll get smaller, but in the good way; the way that leaves room for Christ and the best parts about us.
In the meantime I’m going to get back to being too much, because I am loved way, way too much.