“Something is wrong…. Something is really really wrong” I said to my mom from behind the fitting room door.
“What do you mean? Let me in.”
I welcomed my mom into the overcrowded stall with me, stepping around the clothes on the floor like hot coals. She looked at me. Up and down. Down and up. I did a little turn and stretched out my leg.
“That just isn’t right. Take em off. Let me see” she said through giggles.
I handed my mom the colorful, silky goucho pants (remember that terrible fashion trend from 2005?). One leg was too tight – the other too loose, and they seemed to crawl up in a way that isn’t flattering on anyone.
She held up these pants that I was convinced had a manufacturing flaw. We looked at the pants, then to each other, then we burst into laughter. What I thought to be a pair of goucho pants, turned out to be a single-sleeved blouse.
We laughed and laughed until we cried. It was truly one of those “stop it before I pee” moments, and to this day my mom and I retell that story with just as much laughter.
As I smile back on this moment, I can’t help but make a connection to our expectations and disappointments in life.
That blouse didn’t work as pants because it wasn’t designed to. I was asking them to fulfill a need that they were never meant to fulfill.
And isn’t that true for so many other items and areas in our lives?
You’ve got the sweet boyfriend, but still deep feelings of loneliness.
You’ve worked off the freshman 15 but still feel inadequate.
You’re approaching the first anniversary at your dream company, yet still feel a sense of discontentment.
What were once good gifts have spoiled, due to unmet expectations. This world has gotten us to trust in the illusion that we’ll be satisfied by receiving our hearts’ desires. And if we aren’t satisfied, there must be a flaw with the manufacturer. But I’m here to tell you something different: that boyfriend, the career, the ideal body weight – they weren’t designed to serve your deepest needs.
Like pre-teen Kelsee in the department store fitting room, we’ve overlooked the tags, and have mistaken the manufacturers design.
So what is the truth?
God gives us good gifts, not to satisfy our needs, but to bless us. The Bible says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). God is our provider – our Heavenly Father – who loves to gives us good gifts and treasures. But He also desires for our satisfaction to come from Him, and for the real treasure of our heart to be found in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-20).
I’ve heard a number of good Bible teachers say that we each have a God-sized hole in our hearts that only the Lord can fill. Your boyfriend might fill some of the hole, but not all of it. Your favorite foods to binge might fill up the space for a little while, but the satisfaction does not last.
Not only does the Lord give us good gifts, but when we seek our satisfaction in Him instead of other people and things, He will not only fill that God-sized hole, but He will leave it overflowing (Psalm 23:5). He alone has the ability to satisfy us fully and abundantly.
We’d be less disappointed if we sought satisfaction in the Giver or good gifts, rather than the gifts themselves. We’d also be less disappointed if we acknowledged the intended purpose of those good gifts in the first place.
If I had looked at the tag on the “pants” I tried on, I would have realized what the manufacturer had intended them to be- not pants at all, but a blouse.
In addition, I would have discovered where they came from, what they were made of, and how to take care of them. Everything I would need to know about those pants would have been right inside the tag. If I had taken a step back and read the tag, I would’ve missed out on a good story (that’s for sure) but I also would’ve saved myself some disappointment, because I really liked those pants.
Likewise, if you were to look at the tag inside of whatever person, or object, or life circumstance you are seeking satisfaction in, you would discover the intended purpose of the item, how to care for it, and where it came from.
I believe this tag would have the words from Romans 11:36 printed on it:
“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36 ESV)
You see… that job offer, those good grades, the sweet relationship…you didn’t receive those on your own. Every good and perfect gift comes from above.
These riches are made possible through Him – through the grace of His Son, which makes the unworthy, worthy enough to receive good gifts. Hold them with an unclenched fist and a grateful heart.
And finally, the purpose: The purpose of these things, stated clearly, is to give glory and honor to the Lord. Not to satisfy the hole in your heart, but to point a spotlight of honor towards the Giver of good gifts.
When we have this awareness and conviction about the good gifts we have in our lives, we begin to see them as such- good, underserved gifts. We don’t expect these gifts to satisfy us- rather the One who gives the gifts instead.
So next time you’re feeling dissatisfied and something just feels “really wrong” check your heart and check the tag, and give glory where glory is due.