Saturday, November 20, 2010
I'll Take the Padded One, Thanks
When I was a preteen, what we would call a tween today, my mom bought me a bra. Not because I was anywhere near needing one, but because I had been whining for one for as long as I could remember. Bras hold such promise to a young girl. I can remember trying on my mom's bras while she was at work. They fit me almost perfectly because I would wear them backwards, ignoring the pouchy pockets hanging off my shoulder blades. Since my mom would buy the bras and bring them home, I just assumed that they were supposed to fit, never saying anything if they didn't. I remember the time she brought home a 34AA.
The bra was beautiful. Apparently I had graduated from the hookless mesh bras that snapped up to my chin whenever I raised my hand to the silky, fiberfill lined bra with the pretty blue flower in the middle. The only problem was that it didn't fit. At all. Even on the tightest clasp it hung around my body like a t-shirt that had been cut in half. Tightening the straps didn't help; it just pulled the cups up to my collar bone. It took some MacGyver-type action with a few safety pins, but I was able to wear the beautiful Teen Miss bra. I felt so grown-up despite the jabbing of the pins and the bunchiness under my clothes. I was desperately hoping that no one could tell that I didn't actually fit into the undergarment; being a flat-chested girl was tough. It seemed like everyone else was developing much faster than I was, and I just really wanted to fit in.
Growing in our faith is sometimes like the bra debacle. We become Christians, accepting Christ as our Savior, and then look around at what everyone else is doing. There seems to be external, unwritten time tables of faith. When you are a baby Christian, everything is new and exciting, and you gain a desire to learn everything all at once. At least that is how it was for me.
I signed up for Bible studies, feeling like I was finally sitting at the grown-up table on Thanksgiving. I sat through a couple of them not understanding a word anyone was saying. Frustration quickly set in. I was not familiar with the books of the Bible, so looking up passages was like brain surgery for me. I didn't understand much of the Old Testament symbolism or the "Christianese" that was going on around me. I sat with a polite smile, hoping to convey deep thoughtfulness instead of empty panic. I was in over my head…my new garment was not fitting.
I have since learned that our faith grows and God works in us on His timing. Romans 12:3 says that we should each think "according to the measure of faith that God has assigned." It is easy to look around and wonder why everyone else seems to "get it", and feel like you don't measure up in some respects. Nobody wants to be different, but there is a comfort in knowing that it isn't about me. It is about God and the gift of faith that He gives.
When I think back to the training bras my mom would buy for me, I remember the excitement of taking that first bra out of the bag, the disappointment when it didn't fit, and the shame as I kept that knowledge to myself. At some point, though, without my noticing any change, the beloved garment began to fit. I got rid of the safety pins and pulley systems and just wore my clothes the way I was supposed to.
Let me encourage you as you grow in your faith not to look around at how everyone else looks. You are only seeing what they want you to anyway. We can never look at anyone else and know for sure what they have going on under that "Sunday smile." Just be where you are today, knowing that God is taking you on a journey of His design with His timing. Be open to His leading and teaching, and He will finish the good work that He began in you on the day you first accepted Him as Savior, with a faith that is mature and compete. He will not leave you with "pouchy promises" hanging off your back.