I recently saw an old friend I hadn’t seen in years.
She had always been a beautiful woman in all the best ways. Nothing had dimmed, but something had definitely changed.
During the years we’d lived close, I’d known how hard she’d struggled under the weight of gaining (and not losing) fifty pounds during her two pregnancies. But in the time we’d recently been apart, the physical and emotional weight she’d carried with her all those years had vanished. She was light-hearted and calm. She seemed to be her very best self.
“Want to hear the story?” she said. Boy, did I ever.
Once upon an April morning, an overweight woman waddled (her words, not mine) into her neighborhood Target. Stopping to catch her breath, she saw a teeny, tiny, shiny, fire-engine red, 100% spandex workout outfit. She noticed that there were only two sizes left on the rack: S and XL. She bought the Small.
My friend went home and wrestled herself into the little red number. It pinched and puckered, and cut off circulation at critical points. “The spandex enhanced nothing positive, but highlighted entirely too much of everything else if you know what I mean…” she said laughing. “I was a sight for no eyes, especially sore ones!”
She stood and took a long, contemplative look in the full-length mirror.
This is the emotional scene in any good story which inspires a call to action. And if you’re like me, I expected it to sound like something I’d heard a few times before: “Kim, that was it! I was so sick of myself. I vowed that I would lose that 50 lbs by summer if it killed me! I even hung the size Small by my mirror for daily inspiration.”
But no. Not even close. Because this is not a story about inspirational game-plans, or becoming a size small. This is a story about a woman putting on small, and becoming Brave.
Brave took as deep a breath as the spandex would allow, and walked straight out the front door.
She walked past her neighbors, and the stream of suddenly silent kids coming home from school. She walked straight to the busiest street in the heart of her town, and continued walking in front of all her people for the good part of an hour. Then, she walked home.
The next day she did the same thing. And the following day, too. Each morning Brave would force herself into her scarlet singlet, lace up her shoes, and walk out the front door straight into her world.
She wore that spandex straight out. She wore it while she huffed and puffed in front of all the kind, embarrassed, and disbelieving stares. She wore it despite the loud and ugly commentary in her own head. She wore her small until the shiny red spandex turned threadbare pink.
Brave put on the small and walked until it fit her.
Until it fit her!
What is it that you need to put on – even though it’s so very small – and walk out the door in, Brave? What is hanging in your closet for inspiration, while you stay safely indoors until it all perfectly comes together?
To those who are called to write. To those who make music. To Poets. Pastors. Parents. Can you put on your small and walk out in front of your world – in front of all your people – even though you’re so far from where you think you should be?
To those who are called to Justice. To those who are called to Mercy. To Wisdom. To Science. To Peace. Can you put on your small and walk humbly, daily, in front of your watching world?
To all those who are called to be fully Human. To reflect Beauty. To Be. Of course there is a long way to go until things are fully made right – until it all fits like it should. But can you put on your small and walk with the world, and with your people, while we all wait eagerly for that day?
Peace to you friends, and don’t be afraid.
It is your best gift to the world: You – out in the street with us – walking humbly in your small.