For six or seven weeks, her husband had been working like a dog. Eat, sleep, work was his way of life. And it wasn’t going to end for another two weeks, at least.
She’d been watching the kids and working herself, and she hadn’t forgotten for a second – this was the month she was going to take care of herself.
So she needed to get out. She was desperate to get away, alone, by herself. This was the day, the one night to treat herself to her favorite things.
Two dear ones had given her gift cards from her favorite store, White House Black Market, for Christmas. They knew her well enough to skip all the other stores and go straight to the one she loved.
But for her, this accepting of truth, this accepting of self hadn’t been so easy, so obvious. Somehow, somewhere along the way, she decided she’d deny her own identity, she’d try to be someone else. She’d scoured the malls in search of the perfect orange carpet dress, only to find herself back there, at home base. Still, she didn’t learn. Months later, she thought other stores would fit the bill for family pictures, well, let’s just say, better. She bought and returned handfuls of clothes from everywhere else but there, only to find herself back there, at the place she loves.
Gift cards to her one and only favorite store were the perfect opportunity. She was just becoming settled in this who she is and who she wants to be. She was ready to turn the page. For no longer did she want to pretend, no longer did she want to search and yearn to be something she wasn’t. She just wanted to go, move beyond the things that held her back, and just be who she was created to be.
So she walked right in to that White House Black Market store. She pulled everything and anything that spoke to her that night – dressy black tunics, gray and tan jeans embellished just right, a silky floral white blouse with long flowing sleeves, dresses and tanks, sweaters, and black and white patterned bustiers.
As she tried on the clothes, she thought for a moment it was all too much, it wasn’t going to work this time. She wanted to run, take it all off, leave empty handed. Because she felt a little fat. She was 5 pounds over her ideal weight, after all. And who did she think she was? A mom of three, works part-time and blogs? Why would she need any of these fancy clothes anyway? Adolescent memories flooded back in. “Why are you wearing tights with dress shorts in the middle of winter?” She wanted to leave.
But she stayed. Because she knew better.
She’d felt like an odd ball all the way through. She’s the one who wore dressy flats when everyone else wore tennis shoes. She’s the one who dressed up when everyone else came in jeans in sweatshirts. She’s the one who stayed in her “church clothes” and didn’t think twice until someone mentioned it to her, while everyone else changed the second they got home.
It took her years and years and years to realize – she wasn’t the elusive “everyone else.”
The messy, beautiful truth of it was that she always knew who she was. God placed that deep in her core. She wanted to deny it, deny the beautiful work he’d set in her from the beginning. Truth was, something in her wanted to deny just about everything He created her to be.
But the time had come. There, in that dressing room, she decided – I’m not running away from who I am. I’m breaking free from the lies I’ve believed so long. I’m good enough, I’m not too much. I’m settling in to who I am, once and for all.
So she gathered up all those black and white things that didn’t work, and hung them back up in that dressing room.
She looked at what was left after all the trying and denying.
She’d found one shirt that was right. In fact, it was just right.
The black jeans were right, too. She’d second guessed herself, had to come out of the closet, look in the mirror again, and stand before another’s affirmations to realize they were, truly, just right.
And the blue jeans, it was just a matter of size. 8 Regular, too long. 10 Short, too big. She just needed the one that would fit her like a glove, 8 Short. Only, they didn’t have 8 Short. She accepted the clerk’s offer to call, the perfect fit found at a nearby store.
So she bought the shirt and the black jeans, thanked the soul kindly and made her way to the second White House Black Market.
It seemed silly, this tending to self, this driving miles for the sake of a pair of blue jeans that fit just so. But she did it anyway, because she needed this tending for her soul.
The blue jeans were waiting. They fit just right.
She’d allowed herself to look once more when she came in. Why not, she thought? Money remained on the cards, and this was the only place it was going to be spent. She’d found a gem of a shirt, one she hadn’t seen at the other store. Black with a big white flower to one side. Medium was too big, Small was just right. The woman with the accent smiled and agreed boldly.
She bought the blue jeans that fit like a glove and the black shirt with the big white flower. $14 remained on the cards. Perfect for spring, when things are made new, she thought.
This place, this White House Black Market, where who she was, who she is, and who she wants to be all come together just so? It’s helped her realize – it’s okay to be you. It’s okay to step into your identity, the truth of who you are. It’s okay, it’s truly okay.
As she pulled the items out of the bags, she noticed it all – the attention to detail, the simple classic design, the sparkles, bold patterns and clean lines, the black and white and even the gray grace she needs more of in-between, the comfort, the familiarity, the way all the pieces go together and make perfect sense. It reminded her of who she was, who she is, and who she wants to be. The 11-year-old girl, the 15-year-old adolescent, the making her way 23-year-old, and the 37-year-old woman all came together. And she knew, it was good.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14