I recently bought a new shirt and then ripped the back wide open while putting it on for the first time. I inspected the damage. It wasn’t a seam rip. More like an incredible hulk tear that shreds the material and leaves an odd gaping hole. It was a complete shock. I had a video shoot later that day with now nothing to wear. A friend raced to the store and purchased me two shirts in the next sizes up. Just in case. I’m sure glad she did because I ended up in a shirt two sizes larger. I can't explain this oddity, but it did seem particularly timely for my spiritual life.
A life fully alive craves expansion.
It wants to spread out, take up space and live a little bigger. I’ve been feeling that recently. Maybe some of you have too. Feeling like your soul is stretching outward, forward even, hungry to be all that God created you to be. Maybe you’ve been dreaming big dreams, feeling the nudge towards courage, vulnerability and healing, but perhaps you've also felt resistance too.
My whole life I felt like small was the goal.
Use a smaller voice, display a more modest amount of passion, curb the wild and adventurous side of my personality. "Be a little more ladylike" they'd say. "Women don't go overseas for ministry, hang out in brothels and take those kind of risks. Women don't preach, lead or keep working after having kids." The message I heard and internalized was about being smaller, rarely about being bigger. It was more caution and less candor, more economy and less extravagance.
I've never felt comfortable with those overt restrictions, yet at the same time I see subtle ways I've embraced a small and timid world. Curtailing my ideas and dreams, lest I look too prideful. Reluctant to share what I really think, because it might appear presumptuous or overbearing. I mute my hopes and tone down my aspirations. I justify, apologize and refrain, afraid to appear too big or too noticeable.
It’s a habit, ingrained and stuck.
Small living is like a holy addiction, but it’s not holy and it’s not helpful. It's false humility, insecurity and fear. It’s full of religious and belittling language about not outshining Jesus and other ridiculous comments that portray Him like a needy child and me as a threat to His throne. There's nothing liberating and empowering in that kind of language. Nothing true either.
I’ve been trying to kick this addiction for a while now, and at times it feels an insurmountable challenge. Like I’m trying to burrow out of a deep cavern and with every inch I scrape through the soil, I find another layer of discomfort. A slab of paralyzing fear, a thick boulder of inadequacy or the muck of resistance. I can hear the cavern begging me to return. To just a portion of life. To be satisfied with just a scrap of my destiny.
The urge to go back feels present at every turn.
I want to squeeze back into that tiny shirt, sew up the hole and pretend I was never dissatisfied and bursting at the seams. I don't want to cause all this trouble, all this discomfort. Maybe if I said less, dreamt less, did everything less - maybe then it wouldn't be this hard. But we all know there's no going back. Not really. Because once you've stretched even just a little more into your God-given space, then you realize that the fight really is worth it all. And that no matter what you tell yourself in the darkest moments, you know you'd never be able to go back. Fit in that cramped shirt again.
Because although two sizes up is terrifying, it's also exhilarating.
It's the life that Jesus came to offer us. Life in all it's fullness. Where no part of us is shut down by fear, hopelessness and self-doubt. Where everything is possible. Where you can get up and try again, and be completely confident that you will not face defeat. Where challenges are opportunities, and where anxiety does not have the last word. We can get beyond where we are, we can move two sizes up.
We all feel achy from the stretching.
We all want to throw in the towel at times. But this process of expansion is exactly what our soul is longing for. We were born for a much larger destiny than we can imagine. The only thing holding us back is the belief that this is all it will ever be.
This is all my marriage will ever be.
This is all my career will amount to.
This is all the healing I'll ever experience.
This is all the capacity I have.
Perhaps like me you're done with the lies, the small life and the constant feeling that there's more just outside of your grasp. Today is the day for unrestrained faith. Today is the day to live fully alive.