I was chatting with a group of friends while our kids played around us, scampering around our feet. Suddenly I felt that wonderful feeling of little hands clutching my jeans and leaning her head against my leg. I looked down, expecting to see my daughter Anna, but it was another little girl leaning on me. I was about to stoop down to talk to her eye to eye when she looked up. The look on her face was first surprised…then terrified. I was not who she expected to see! She screamed as I turned toward her mom who was already bending down to get her. For the rest of the time we stood and talked this beautiful little cherub stared at me with utter disapproval. Somehow the whole thing was my fault and she wanted me to know it.
Over the years this snapshot has come to my mind when I find myself holding onto something or someone that I expected would bring me joy, peace or safety, only to find that it was the wrong thing or the wrong person. Perhaps it is the human condition that we reach for whatever is closest or easiest in order to fill up our sadness, fear, passions or emptiness. Over the years I have been disappointed so many times because I ran to the wrong thing to try to make myself feel loved, important, worthy or needed.
What exacerbates the issue is that we live in a culture that is forever telling us what will be the answer for all of our woes. We need a better car, a bigger home, more money, more stuff, a facelift or a different spouse. We look at ourselves in the mirror and see all that is wrong — wrong by society’s standards. We measure our inner thoughts and feelings against what we see in others lives. You act kind and I feel bad that I’m not kind enough. Your marriage looks happy and I’m struggling in mine. We compare ourselves to posters, pictures and celebrities and usually come up short in the comparison. We assuage those feelings of insignificance or insecurity with things like food, alcohol, inappropriate romances, spending, judgment, gossip….the list is truly endless.
When it all falls apart we seem as shocked as that little girl with her hand clutching my pant leg. It’s not what we expected. It isn’t who we expected. And we are faced with a decision: What do I do now? If it’s a relationship we tend to move on to another one, thinking it will be the one. If its alcohol or drugs, we use more in order to dull the pain and disappointment. If its food we gorge. If we suffer from self-loathing we tear others down trying to feel better about ourselves. It’s a very vicious cycle.
It’s not easy to change these habits. We cling to pacifiers long after we should have outgrown them. What pant leg are you holding onto today that isn’t going to help you? Take a moment to consider what you cling to. I encourage you to let go of the unhealthy things you’re holding to and latch onto God. He is the best pant leg you’ll ever take hold of.
My little ‘leg-grabber’ was instantly rescued by her mom. She was safe and secure even if a little emotionally tenuous. She was close to what she wanted and needed, but she’d missed it by a ….. leg. God throughout history has spoken and proved that he is the source of our life, our safety, our hiding place and our provider. It is his delight to care for you and provide all good things. A part of our issue is that we want to determine what those ‘good things’ should be. We want what we want when we want it. And just like our children, we don’t always know what’s best for us. The God who made you knows exactly how he made you and what he created you to be and do.
How do I do that? I’m always learning how to turn to God in every situation. Learning to wait, pray and listen to see what is my best life, what I am made to be and do. I’ve spent a lot of years pacifying myself with things that don’t solve my issues or improve my life. Quite the opposite. I’m learning to be wiser in where I find support and comfort.
I’ve held a lot of pant legs in my life. I have hurt myself and hurt others through my bad choices. But I promise you that I have never regretted the outcome of any challenge or relationship that came directly from God’s direction and invitation. It may sound funny to you, but he really does know what he’s doing. And he really does know you. It’s the best pant leg you’ll ever grab hold of.
Matthew 6:33 MSG
“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
He heals the brokenhearted
and bandages their wounds.
Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.