Pull up a chair. Take a sip of coffee. Put your cup down, lift your eyes to mine. I want to talk to you. Yes, you. The one reading this post. The one who behind those eyes, has a story to tell. Has hurts that I could never dream of. Has a childhood I couldn’t possibly understand. Has a marriage in shambles. Broken hopes and dreams because of an empty womb or one that cannot seem to carry a child to term.
Look at me.
I see you.
Take a moment and walk with me through this analogy below. I want to know who you are. What makes you, you. What is hidden in that heart of yours, behind those eyes, what has happened to you? What have you done? Where do you struggle?
I want to meet you at the end.
A friend of mine used an illustration in a bible study and I’m totally going to use it here because it is so relevant. She talked about how yoga pants are so comfortable conforming to your legs and hips and rear. They don’t judge, especially if you wear yoga pants and don’t do yoga or even exercise at all. If your legs or hips grow, the yoga pants expand. They hug you and hold you so well that they are comfortable. You’re wearing pants, covering all the places, comfortable.
Jeans, though, notice if you’ve eaten a little too much over the weekend. Jeans make it so we can no longer deny some negative behaviors are happening.
Yoga pants are comfortable because they don’t challenge us. They continue to stretch no matter the conditions. Jeans. They don’t lie. And they are a challenge.
This is the comfort I’m talking about: yoga-pant comfort.
Comfort doesn’t always mean health, though. Comfort can mask unhealthy hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Let’s think about this concept realistically.
A woman is married to a man who had a traumatic childhood. There was abuse and neglect and abandonment and a whole host of addictive lifestyle issues that was never addressed in order to heal. The man learns that the only way to survive is keeping up walls, allowing no one to hurt him. He masks all his hurts in alcohol and other things. He becomes a person he never thought he would. The cycle of addiction is comfortable because he knows what’s next. It’s how he copes.
The woman, she instinctively knows she’s alone in the marriage, but would never admit it. She feels unseen, unknown, and yet continues to live life separate of this man. She watches him cycle in addictions. She confronts the behaviors yet allows herself to believe the lies. She enables the addictions. It’s comfortable. She knows what’s next.
Inside our comfort zone, we feel safe and in control of our situations because we know what to expect next. We know how it all falls apart and how to pick up the pieces when we continue to wear our yoga pants. We expect the pants to feel good. In fact, we live in denial that any other pants could be as comfortable, as giving, and as freeing.
Then we look at someone else’s life. We see she is wearing jeans. Whoa jeans?! We should go try those jeans on the next time we go to the mall. Maybe we’ll look and feel like that other person. But we don’t realize, when we try on those jeans, we experience a whole host of new feelings. Remember, jeans don’t lie. Yoga pants feel good, but jeans don’t lie.
Jeans will point out facts. The facts are possibly terrible, devastating, deeply hurting, soul-crushing. Some really terrible feelings arise. One of those feelings we might feel is fear. With comfort we know what’s next. It’s normal. We know how to behave and move within that space. But when we put on the jeans, experience fear of the unknown of what to do next, it may paralyze us.
And that’s okay. The paralyzed state is where we need to sit. Sometimes we don’t even know we’re in a paralyzed state. When we’re paralyzed with fear that’s when we begin making excuses. The excuses could be, “Well I deserve better,” or “He just had it so hard,” or “That’s just how he is,” or maybe “I don’t have the money,” “I just need to take care of all the things as long as he works,” “I am not smart enough,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’m just not worth it,” “I didn’t know any better,” “It’s all I knew,” “Times were different then,” and so many more excuses.
Excuses are lies we tell ourselves and others, hiding behind the fear of being known. We want to be known, but yet we don’t because once we’re fully known by someone else, they will shame us or judge us (lies). Hiding behind excuses and fear because really, we have low self-confidence. We don’t trust our abilities, qualities, or judgment.
So then if we have low self-confidence, then of course we’ll allow others’ opinions to rule us. We live paralyzed in fear, make excuses out of fear, and allow others to rule us based on their opinions.
Remember, if we’re wearing yoga pants through life, we’ll never have to experience any of this pain… or will we? We have to wash the yoga pants. We have to wear other pants for other reasons throughout the week. Life doesn’t get to just happen in yoga pants. More often that not we are in jeans–faced with some harsh realities; and it’s time to accept reality and stop living in the jaded denial yoga pants provide.
When we allow ourselves to face the fears we have, we enter into a place where we are open to learning. What changes when we learn are that we can deal with the challenges we face. Denial is comfortable. But learning means we’re ready to step out of the yoga pants and into the real world. We may seek therapy and groups to help us re-learn healthy behaviors. We learn new skills to face reality well.
Maybe we learn how to set healthy boundaries with people but also learn people that need cut off because they refuse to get on board with your new changes. This is hard. This hurts. This is painful. But it is necessary to moving forward. What happens in this phase, though, is your comfort zone is extended… you’ve found a pair of comfort jeans.
What’s cool? After all the work in the learning zone happens, there’s a new stage of life. This place where we acknowledge the hurts, habits, and hang-ups.
This place where we wear jeans most every day, accepting reality and no longer choosing denial or lies.
This place where we hang out with people who choose to wear jeans, too.
Life gets a lot more rich. We find purpose. We live out our dreams—the dreams we never thought possible in those yoga pants.
And what’s fun? We’re empowered to set new, scary goals, knowing we can conquer objectives to come.
So my question today is, what pants are you wearing? If you’re wearing yoga pants, what are you trying to mask? If you’re wearing jeans, what is it that finally got you out of the comfort zone into growth zone?
Meet me here.
Behind the analogy, meet me here.
Who are you, behind those eyes, behind the smiles, and into your heart?
What’s happened to you? What have you done?
I see you.
Bible Study Reference:
Dingman, L. (2016). I Am Found Quitting the Game of Hide and Seek with God and Others. Chicago: Moody.
Amazon Link to book