I recently found a few of my clothes from college in a box that was tucked away in the garage. They say fashion trends come back every ten to twenty years, so I was pretty excited to see my favorite pair of jeans in that box. I quickly ran to my closet to put them on. I started planning the top and shoes I would wear with it. All of a sudden, I realized these jeans weren’t coming up past my thighs. I wiggled and jumped. Nothing worked. I yanked on the belt loops so hard, for one final try, only to rip them off. I was furious.
I stared at the long mirror that hung on the back of my closet door. I carefully examined the curves of my hips, the cellulite on my thighs, and the stretchmarks on my waist. I almost didn’t recognize this body. It wasn’t how I remembered it. I mean, I was never skinny but how could I not get these jeans past my thighs? They were my jeans! Tears began to flow. I was angry and frustrated at the reflection I saw in the mirror. I peeled the jeans off my legs, threw them into the corner, and ran out of the closet. I lay in bed feeling bad about myself for a few hours.
Later that week, I was working with an older gentleman who needed physical therapy for weakness and balance. The whole session he kept telling me about his conquest in college and all the sports he played and how now his body was practically useless. Finally, I spoke up and reminded him to focus on his present functional abilities and how far he had come in therapy. I told him that his younger body did what he needed it to do then, but right now his body was doing all the things he needed now. I encouraged him to honor his body for what it was today instead of comparing himself to his past.
When I got home that night, I saw that old pair of jeans lying in the corner of my closet. I went over and picked them up. In that moment I realized that so much had changed in twelve years, including my pant size. I had gotten married, started a career, had two babies, traveled, and lived so much life. I don’t want to go back to 2010; it was a great year but I am grateful for where I am right now.
I decided to take the advice that I had given my patient and honor who I am today. I wasn’t going to resent my body for not meeting an unrealistic goal or punish it through dieting. I decided to throw my twelve-year-old pair of jeans in the trash and stop looking back. In doing so, I thought of Lot’s wife.
Do you remember her? The one who was promised to be saved from destruction only if she would flee without looking back. But she looked back at the life she was asked to leave behind and she was turned into a pillar of salt. This is an Old Testament story that Jesus recalls as a warning to His followers. “Remember Lot’s wife!” (Luke 17:32 CSB) Lot’s wife had a good life and a guaranteed future, but she glanced back at what had brought her comfort instead of focusing on her current call in life.
Something magnetic happens when we look back at the past. The nostalgia pulls us in like quick sand — slowly we are lost in our memories. And the “glory days” or the “good ol’ days” make it hard to find contentment in the present days. It is hard to choose to step into an unknown future when we can sit back and live in the comfort of yesterday’s memories. So Lot’s wife serves as a reminder to forget the former and focus on the future.
Here are two passages to reflect on today:
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV)
“Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
I was salty over a pair of twelve-year-old jeans not fitting me, just like my patient was about not being able to jump hurdles at the age of eighty. Friend, God is not done with you. He isn’t disappointed that your gifts and talents look different today than they did ten years ago. He wants you just the way you are, right now. The curves, the stretch marks, and the cellulite are part of the story too — don’t wish them away. Instead, know that they are part of your call for today and tomorrow. So no more turning back.