My Favorite Summer Shirt

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You are so weak. Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave till it gets to shore.
You need more help than you know.
Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi

I have a favorite summer shirt. I found it on the sale rack at Anthropologie a couple years back. It’s perfect for hot days – extra loose with ties at the shoulders. And since my two favorite pairs of shorts right now are green, I have a ready made outfit.

For being my favorite shirt I haven’t worn it yet this summer. So today was the day. After my shower I put it on but something wasn’t right. It fit funny. The v-neck in the front dipped way lower than normal and the hemline settled odd across my hips. I chalked it up to one more mid-life, pre-menopausal surprise I call my body.

All through the morning I kept adjusting my top, pulling it up, for fear of revealing far more than I intended.

I’d like to tell you I laughed it off and chalked it up to my diligent weightlifting skills.

I’d like to tell you I relished in my strong shoulders and arms.

I’d like to tell you I celebrated my able body, rejoicing in the need to purchase a larger shirt size.

But no, that is not the case. I turned toward shame. I returned to my default setting of not being enough and too much at the same time. (Yeah, try figuring that one out – not much wiggle room there I’m afraid.)

It’s a funny thing to observe:

When Eric’s clothes fit poorly he blames the dryer.

When my clothes fit poorly I blame me.

I continued on with the day. These internal dialogues are oftentimes commonplace and normal so I didn’t think much of it.

It’s not easy being a human, and it’s not easy being a girl. I am bumping up against some deep insecurity in my role as a pastor. As I preach now on a consistent basis I find my default setting coming into clearer focus. Preparing for a sermon riles up all those old and terrible voices. The insecurity clamors for the last word and I reach a point of despair. Fear and restlessness rattle me and I wonder if any of it will ever get better.

But then I shift my gaze, just a tad, and sure enough grace is sitting right there, patiently waiting for me to focus on her. She usually has some cheeky response that goes something like: Hey there. I’ve been here all along. Can you remember that God is on your side?

Deep breath.

Immediate relief with a side of disbelief.

Back to this morning, I sat down on the couch after my shirt shame session to get some work done and I looked down. Sure enough, sticking out of the center of my v-neck was the tag. I was wearing my favorite summer shirt backwards all morning.

Grace. She shows up in the funniest of ways. Always she’s as close as the hem of your shirt tucked just below your nose.

Maybe instead of turning toward the old, grumbly voices that have none of our best interests at heart, we can honor the other still and small voices that won’t fight their way in. They wait patient, at the ready, to offer relief and solutions. Sometimes they bring so much relief that we don’t believe them. But we can learn. And we can grow. It’s what we’re made to do.

Find that cheeky grace. She’s hanging out waiting for the right time, for when we’re ready to see her. And once we do, we can celebrate together the honor of living in a world filled with discovery, wonder, and joy.

But don’t look too far, she might be just under your nose, attached to the neckline of your favorite summer shirt.