The Embarrassing Pink Shirt Incident
Trimming the rapidly growing weeds and grass on the steep section of our yard is not one of my favorite activities. I used to wear shorts, but got stung several times by yellow jackets — once they flew up my shorts and that wasn’t much fun. So, I reluctantly began wearing pants when trimming.
This year it has been poison ivy. Nearly every time I would trim I would have itchy bumps pop up on my arms after a couple of days. I’m a rather spoiled person and enjoy my air conditioning in the summer time, and I really don’t like being hot (hence the shorts and t-shirt when trimming). I moved to the mountains of North Carolina because I’m not fond of sweating, not to mention it’s absolutely beautiful here as well.
There is a very light weight sweatshirt that I began wearing to keep the poison ivy at bay. It is a lovely little shirt that I feel is not stifling hot to wear in the summer. It’s a light grey color…or at least it was until it was washed with a bright red wash cloth. Now, my little sweatshirt is a dingy sort of pink-grey and I began to feel embarrassed to wear it publically. I thought it looked particularly horrible with the old khakis I wear to do yard work.
The other day, I went stumping outside to trim while complaining about my ugly pink shirt. My wife gave me a “Not that again” sort of look and basically told me to get over it.
God speaks through pink shirts
While trimming, I began thinking about it. It’s really quite silly that I would make a fuss over wearing that ugly little shirt. But why did I feel embarrassed to wear it in public? What I realized was this: it betrays the image I am attempting to portray of myself, albeit in a very small way. It does not flow with the narrative I am attempting to sell to those who know me.
It is contrary to my carefully crafted story.
Then I realized this is how I live and how everyone around me lives. Our lives are full of “ugly little pink shirts” that betray the narrative which we have believed about ourselves and which we desperately want others to believe.
What does it mean to be embarrassed? Why do we ever feel embarrassed? It is because some situation or person has exposed our “pink shirt.”
Frequently, incidents form cracks in the false image of ourselves that we have subconsciously created. Because of this, we become depressed, embarrassed, self-conscious, and live with much additional stress that we don’t need.
But how often do we stop to ask, “Why does this ‘pink shirt’ matter so much to me?” Not that we should belittle its importance; rather, we should explore it.
What images are we hiding behind? The Good Christian, the Great Ascetic, the Intelligent Philosopher, the Good Husband/Father, the Perfect Housewife/Mother, the Funny Guy, the Deep Poet/Artist, the Spiritual Expert, the Open Minded Lover of All?
Who we are is hidden in Christ. The only way we will ever successfully break down our false self (and not replace it with a new false self) is to dive inward and find our hidden self inside Christ inside us. This inward adventure leads us to discomfort at first, but results in explosive and beautiful freedom.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Gal 2:20)
For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Col 3:3)
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:21)