The Sweatpants of Defeat

I recently wore sweatpants to a family birthday party. My brother just stood there in his black V-neck sweater, sleek tie and fashionably slim pants, looked at me disapprovingly and shook his well-groomed head. I asked him what the problem was and he told me, and I quote, “People that wear sweatpants in public have given up on life.”

I laughed in his face and told him that I wear sweats to the store, to friend’s houses and that if it was socially acceptable, I’d wear them to work. While he was still recoiling from that bit of news, I told him, “Shoot, most of the time, I don’t even do my hair – I just let it dry and hope for the best!”

(I must admit, that approach to curly hair is kind of a crap shoot. Sometimes it works out fine, other times I look like I’ve been chased through a very humid jungle.)

I think he was tempted to disown me right then and there because as he put it, no self-respecting person would present themselves to the world that way. Like our father, he sees it as an expression of unabashed laziness and a deplorable lack of class.

I’m sure many would agree with them. I know he’s got somewhat of a point, and I would agree that sometimes what we take for granted as a lowly sweat suit is really just people wearing the defeat they feel inside.

I love my sweatpants, though. My sweats love me and don’t give me any grief about gaining a few pounds. They give me room to breathe and space. They extend themselves for me.

My jeans, however, are not so forgiving. I feel like I owe my pants a deep apology for stretching them to their limits and embarrassing them in public with front pockets so puckered and stretched they look like mouths gaping in horror. They’re aghast. They’ve been abused, and now they’re screaming because they can’t take it anymore.

I am currently trying to get rid of those unwanted pounds because frankly, it’s cheaper to lose ten pounds than replace an entire wardrobe.

Other than that, I’m pretty comfortable with myself. Sure, I have a few hang-ups about my body, and I still think swimsuits are the devil. But I honestly don’t care what my appearance says to strangers as long as it doesn’t lead people to believe that I think I’m better than them.

I guess I should be offended that my brother implied that I looked like a bum, but I’m not. I know he still loves me, even if he thinks I’ve joined The People of Walmart.

While some are wearing their failure, the rest of us just don’t feel like putting on a show. We don’t feel any less fetching, and it’s not a cry for help. We’ve got all the love and attention we need.

I am ok with myself. I’ve got God on my side and supportive friends and family. I have a husband and kids that love me when I’m ugly and when I’m at my worst. In a lot of ways, they are like my favorite sweats. Just think: when you’re sick, when you get tired of sucking in your gut and you just don’t want to impress anyone anymore, you want sweats. Sweats, like great friends, allow you to let it all hang out. They keep you covered and hold you together when you’ve let yourself go. They stretch with you and don’t judge. Everyone wants friends as forgiving and comfortable as a pair of sweats. It’s the kind of friend I want to be.

So when I’m in my sweats, I’m not wearing defeat, I’m actually wearing a metaphor for the life I want to live: humble, tolerant and always ready to receive people just the way they are.

Take that, David! (Just kidding, I’m pretty sure he never reads my blog.)

Goody-Two-Shoes Got Pregnant: Portrait of a Christian Girl

I was nineteen and unmarried when I got pregnant with my daughter. As people in church began to find out that I was pregnant, there was one reaction in particular that I’ll never forget.

“Wow! Goody-two-shoes got pregnant! I never thought you had it in you,” was the almost impressed reply.

I really think this response summarized what a lot of people were thinking: I may have been self-controlled and pious on the outside, but based on this recent news, I was probably just a wild child waiting to be loosed. They probably assumed I was one of those “still waters run deep” cases where no one really ought to be surprised if they were paying any attention.

But nothing could have been further from the truth. I wasn’t attention-seeking, wild, promiscuous, or even in love. Nothing that was the typical titillating fodder of church gossip could explain why a nice christian girl like me with apparently sincere beliefs would end up falling so hard and so publically.

When I look back at what took me to that point of throwing caution and my convictions to the wind, I remember some growing feelings:

I was exhausted. My dad died halfway through my sophomore year in high school. Only one week after my dad’s funeral I dove into thirty grueling months of zero hour, after school classes, summer school, some evening classes at the community college and even piano lessons. I had to complete four years of school in just two and a half because I was homeschooled while dad was sick. I needed to help take care of my baby sisters. And I needed to spend every possible minute that I had left with my dad. I had a lot to catch up on and very little sleep to keep me going.

I was alone. I had friends and family, but I was alone with my feelings. I didn’t have anyone I could share my sadness, frustrations, fears or secrets with that understood or had the maturity to support me through what I was experiencing. Not willing to be the party-pooper or a “burden” to anyone, I kept most of my feelings to myself.

I was numb. Three and a half years of watching your father writhe in pain and lose his mind will do that to you. Seeing my mother lose weight, sleep and the love of her life to the soundtrack of crying babies that ached for her but had to settle for me will wring tears dry. Then there were all my own fears and hurts that scraped across my heart so many times that any feeling was lost to survival.

No one just throws away their life, their beliefs, their dreams and goals freely with both hands. It’s wrenched from them. Wrestled away, not in one instance, but over time by insecurity, betrayal, pain, confusion, fear, loss; and then one day you just can’t fight back anymore and you give it all away.

Then you’re left with nothing and you want something. You want to feel alive even if it’s all wrong. It’s in that vulnerable state that you do and accept things you wouldn’t have before.

And indeed, a lot of things went wrong, not all of them my fault. I let myself get buried in my pain when I should have been reaching out for help. I chose to be led by my needs and not my God. I made bad decisions. But I also really needed people to surround me with persistent friendship, support and prayer; to remind me when I was too tired to think that I was loved and my God was able to meet all my needs.

We are not meant to live or struggle alone. God created family, friendship, love. Jesus had disciples, and even God is a triune being. Never miss an opportunity to feed, comfort, support, love, listen, protect or befriend. Your presence can make a difference in someone’s life. Your kindness could be the strength someone needs to claw out of the rubble and clasp God’s hand.

Angie D 6/7/12 ©


  • I believe in Jesus, loving people, living fully and creating good things. Whether it's art, food or finding solutions, I am always in "creative mode". With this blog I hope to encourage and help others to live in whatever "mode" God has called them to.

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