God and I have been friends for a long, long time. I first met God when I must have been about four. We lived in a place called Wagga Wagga, in the south-west of NSW, Australia. Wagga is now a bustling regional centre, but back then, it was just a big country town. We lived [...]
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My shirt stinks.
Now, I should tell you up front that this is a polite euphemism, that is, another way of saying my excrement is smelly. Get it? Shirt happens, and it certainly happens to me.
For a very long time, I’ve been trying to work out how to make my shirt not stink. Actually, for ages, I’ve believed that the something rotten down in Denmark I could smell everywhere I went was something on the bottom of someone else’s shoe. I’ve been pointing out to others for about twenty odd years how to avoid stepping in it, and in particular, how to not bring it in my house and walk it all over my beige berber, for crying out loud. Funny how we always presume it’s on someone else’s shoes, dont you think? You’d think I’d figure out sooner why that smell was always there when I was in the room, wouldn’t you?
It’s my shirt. It’s taken me a while to sort it, but now I know for sure. The shirt, she is mine, and she sure is ripe. I, to put it succinctly, truly stinketh.
Now, I know everyone has their own shirt to wear. Everyone. But I have always thought you had to get rid of yours and everyone elses shirt to be ry comfortable, presentable, and for the world to be okay. Now, I think I see what everyone must surely learn sooner or later – you never really get rid of the shirt, not in this life anyway. It’s true I once got myself some shirtproof shoes, but they tended to bruise peoples shins quite badly when I tried to kick the shirt out of them. I have bruised a lot of shins trying to make people leave their shirty shoes outside my house. I thought I could solve the problem of the shirt with moving shoes. But alas, it has never been about shoes. It’s always just been about plain old, garden variety shirt.
We all stink. We all have the shirt all over us, because we all shirt, all the time. We can’t help it – it’s in our nature to do it. Sometimes, we can shirt in the right place and just walk off, pretending it never happened, and sometimes we shirt where we shouldn’t, and get ourselves into trouble. Sometimes, we can stop ourselves from shirting, but sooner or later, it backs up and comes out somehow. You should never try and stop someone elses shirt – they won’t appreciate it, and you’ll make them feel bad. Having someone think they are not regarded just because they shirt is not cool. We all shirt, and we all deserve regard anyway. In fact, I’m sick of pretending that I myself have no shirt. I think it’s time to start a revolution. Next time someone says they’re in the shirt, instead of pretending I never shrt in my life, I’m going to tell them honestly “Hey, me too.”
I also am thinking of perhaps wearing my own shirt around on purpose, and just stopping pretending I don’t have shirt. Perhaps it might make me more tolerant of others shirt. If I have the stink of my own shirt right under my nose, maybe others won’t worry me as much. That could just work.
I don’t think we lose the shirt that frustrates us, everwhere we go and whatever we do, until in fact we lose the machine that makes it. Sometimes we wallow in it, and sometimes we heap it up into neat little piles for someone else to deal with, but the fact is, our mess is with us as long as we are on this earth. The best we can hope for, I think, is to put up with others as they put up with ours, until we no longer have to worry about the shirt machine. I.e; we die.
The only other way to really deal with the shirt is to let someone who deals in shirt really deal with your shirt. God deals with my shirt in ways I can only wish I was capable of. I am at times so relieved at the way God has effectively dealt with one of my own disasters that I actually become of some use to someone else in theirs. It’s rare, too rare, but it does happen. I like it when it does, because it makes having shirt almost worthwhile. When we have compassion instead of repulsion in the face of shirt, we show God’s love in real tangible ways, and become more like Jesus, which is kind of the point. Jesus, in fact, was prepared to be pretty much smothered in other peoples shirt (not having any of his own being as he was God) because he thought it would help us feel less repulsive, and more loved. It worked. When we realise we are pretty much just proverbial machines that make shirt, and then we realise Jesus was smeared all over with that shirt to show he was one of us and how much God loved us, we come to see just how important it is not to try and pretend shirt doesn’t exist. If it was important enough for Jesus to become involved in on our behalf, we at least could stop with the standing around whistling insisting “Nothing to see here! Here, check my shoes!” Just relax pal, Jesus is the shirt man….he deals in shirt, it’s like, his thing.
I’m giving up my denial of the shirt, both in myself, and in everyone else I know and love. I have this feeling that if I can accept some help with my own shirt, then I’ll be able to lighten up with worrying about my berber and just let folks come on into my house if they like, shirt’n'all. Especially the people I love, who have been tippy toeing around me, too polite to indicate my shirt and too scared I’d yell to admit to their own.
Shirt happens, and it happens to me, and to you. It’s the human condition, it’s sin, it’s everything that makes us hate each other and hate ourselves and hate the world we live in. We want to fix it, but we’re looking for the problem in the wrong place. The shirt’s not on your brothers shoes, it’s on your own. There’s a helper, but you should know, he shovels shit for a living, and he’s not gonna buy your innoent act. Jesus”ll definetly be checking your shoes. Then he’ll patiently sit with you on the step, and help you scrape the tread out with a piece of stick. Gosh, couldnt we all use that kind if help?
I want to tell those of you who don’t believe a person can be transformed, or that people don’t or can’t change, you need to come and see what God has done at my house.