“They’re just so ugly,” I told my sister-in-law last week. “They don’t fit, I did not order them and I do not want to wear them.”
“And they are so not in your color wheel,” she said sympathetically.
“I know, right?” I countered. “Obviously there was no consultation involved. I would like to return them.”
“But you can’t,” she said.
“I know,” I sighed.
The offending piece of attire we were bashing? My Big Girl Pants.
I was not in the mood to put them on. I knew I had to, but that did not stop me from whining about it.
The Big Girl Pants are never a welcome sight in my world because they signify a looming cross that I will need to take up and carry. I had hoped that I had successfully avoided the need to don the Big Girl Pants for a short time, all the while dreaming that it was a permanent separation. Nope. They were back. They were insistent. And they were definitely accompanied by a cross.
We all have crosses to bear in this life. I often tell my seminar attendees that Jesus did not say, “Pick up your Ghirardelli chocolate bar and follow me.” Or, “Pick up your new car and follow me.” Or “Pick up your lotto winnings and follow me.” No, sorry. He specifically said, “Pick up your cross and follow me.” And, because they are crosses and not feather pillows, they are uncomfortable. They are heavy. They can even hurt. We don’t want to pick them up at all, much less carry them around for any significant length of time.
But despite the oh-so-wise things I say in my presentations, when this new cross of mine was on the horizon I spent some time prayer journaling, a.k.a. having a downright pity party about it. Try as I did to avoid the pothole of sadness and despair that is often associated with a cross, I ultimately flung myself headlong into said pothole. I implored. I complained. I got mad. I brazenly suggested other options to the Creator of the Universe: “Why couldn’t it be this way or that way instead, God?”
Lucky for me, the Creator of the Universe is used to my brazenness and has an endless supply of compassion and mercy to offer whenever I’m wallowing in the pothole of self-pity. He gives me time to adjust, and then he miraculously and generously pours out all the grace and strength and perseverance and courage I will need to carry my cross. He picks me up out of the pothole and helps me get into those Big Girl Pants. He’s done it before. Every single time, in fact. And I need to trust that He will do it again. He will not abandon me. And if I allow Him, He will also show me the good that comes from all of this.
So off I go now, shouldering my invisible, yet undeniably burdensome cross. But by the grace of God (and some also-invisible, divinely woven Big Girl Pants) I hope to accept and carry my cross in a more peace-filled manner, and avoid the potholes and pity parties along the way.
“Do not fear what may happen tomorrow; the same understanding Father who cares for you today will take care of you then and every day. He will either shield you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.” -St. Francis de Sales
Mary Beth is a 50-something magazine editor, a family humor columnist and an author, but her favorite form of writing is prayer journaling. Praying with a pen every morning for years
dramatically strengthened her spiritual life, even drawing her back home to the fullness of the Catholic Church after several decades away! She recently published a book with Beacon
Publishing/Dynamic Catholic titled, “Praying with a Pen—the Girlfriends’ Guide to Stress-Free Prayer Journaling.” Married for 30+ years to her witty and wonderful husband, she’s a mom to two adult children: one a seminarian studying in Rome and the other a happily married school social worker who promoted Mary Beth to grandma status in March of 2018. Mary Beth is a member of her church choir, loves to sing at big Catholic weddings and has recently begun facilitating Catholic book studies and retreats for women. With a background in corporate communications and marketing and a Master’s degree in Business and Organizational Leadership, she has spoken to over 100 groups on the topics of leadership, family humor, writing and prayer journaling. Mary Beth has a borderline unhealthy attachment to her little dog, Sammy and, when the mood strikes her, she blogs about prayer journaling (and Sammy) at www.prayingwithapen.com.