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An outfit 7 sizes too big and an opportunity to grow

Posted April 10

Last month I was given a new church assignment for which I feel completely inadequate, unqualified and ill-prepared. Which is appropriate, because when it was extended to me, I actually felt ill.

My head spun as if someone were asking me to slip on a suit seven sizes too big.

Coincidently — or, perhaps not — on this same Sunday, my 12-year-old realized he no longer fit comfortably into his favorite pair of dress pants.

I tried to stifle a giggle as he stood in my bedroom doorway. #unsuccessful

No, it wasn’t exactly a Brady Bunch teaching moment, but I did my best to explain that growing out of what’s comfortable is a natural part of being a kid. As we grow, our clothes have to grow, too.

Rather than watching him suffer through one more Sunday, I offered to let him borrow a pair of my own khakis. He took them, disappeared into his room and a minute later, was back in my doorway modeling pants two inches too long.

"They don't fit,” he sighed.

"That's OK,” I said. “Give them time. They will."

An hour later, there I was drowning in a new church role just like that boy in those too-long trousers. Then, a realization tugged at my soul like a persistent toddler until I finally paid attention.

Over the last few years I’d become quite comfortable in my spiritual outfit.

But whether I believed the new adventure fit or not, it was time to trust. It was time to grow. And it didn't take long for me to understand this was about much more than church responsibilities.

Have I been spending much of my life dressing up only in opportunity outfits that feel custom-tailored for the moment?

Whether driven by fear, self-doubt or a sandwich made of both, have I allowed fifty flavors of opportunities to fly by because I thought I was still too small?

Did I say with a sigh, “They don’t fit.”

Disclaimer: Metaphors are like those Sunday pants. They only stretch so far before they no longer fit. So, before it bursts at the seams, consider these scenes in your own life.

"She’s amazing, but she'll never go out with me. I’m not ready for a girl like that."

"I'll never get that promotion at work. I am nowhere near prepared."

"We can’t have a child yet. We are definitely not ready for the parenting outfit."

"I could never write a book. That opportunity outfit will always be too big for me."

"I'd love to start my own business, but right now I'm comfortable in my current lifesuit. Being an entrepreneur is at least six sizes too big for me."

Maybe you're a teenager wanting to audition for the lead in the spring musical. But you won’t, because you think your talent is far too small for that wardrobe.

How about class president? No, you’re terrified to run because you're not popular enough, or smart enough, or trendy enough or a great public speaker. Plus, you’ve crunched the polling numbers and you’re 83-percent certain that 94 percent of your classmates will vote for someone else.

What if we flipped that fear into quiet confidence?

Maybe you won't get the part, but perhaps you will and quickly grow into it.

Perhaps you won't get the job, but maybe you will and soon you’ll stand in a crowded conference room and realize you're growing faster than you ever thought possible.

You might not get a date with that girl or guy. You might not make the basketball, baseball or water polo team. But until we’re willing to take a chance with an opportunity outfit a tad too big, we will never know and we will never grow.

I recognize it will take time to grow into my new responsibilities, and it likely won't ever feel like a perfect fit. But if I learn to turn down the volume on my natural, self-installed doubts, I’ll be just fine.

If I can have trust, I’ll make it.

And you will, too.

So go. Don't delay. Try on an opportunity outfit that doesn't quite fit.

Then grow.

Jason Wright is a New York Times best-selling author of 10 books, including "Christmas Jars" and "The Wednesday Letters." Learn more at jasonfwright.com, or connect on Facebook at facebook.com/jfwbooks or by email at jfw@deseretnews.com.

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