The Embarrassing Pink Shirt Incident
There’s a steep section of our yard on which grass (and weeds) regrettably keep growing. Trimming and mowing said section is one of my least favorite activities. I used to wear shorts, but after being stung several times by yellow jackets and encountering “invisible” patches of poison ivy, I reluctantly began wearing pants and long sleeves.
I had a favorite sweatshirt that I began wearing to keep the poison ivy at bay. It was a light weight shirt that was not stifling hot to wear in the summer. It’s a light grey color…or at least it was grey until it was washed with a bright red washcloth.
Now, my favorite sweatshirt is a dingy sort of pink-grey which I found terribly embarrassing to wear outside, even while doing yard work.
The other day, I began my yard work while complaining about my ugly pink shirt. My wife shot me an impatient “not that again” look and told me to get over it.
God speaks through pink shirts
I came to the following conclusion: the ugly pink shirt 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.
In other words, it is contrary to my carefully crafted story.
At that point, I suddenly realized this is how I live my entire life. My life is full of “ugly little pink shirts” that betray the narrative which I have believed about myself and which I desperately want others to believe.
What does it mean to be embarrassed? Why do we ever feel embarrassed? It is because some difficult situation or person has exposed our “ugly pink shirt.”
Frequently, unpleasant incidents form cracks in the false self-image 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 who is residing inside us. This inward adventure leads to discomfort at first as we learn things about ourselves that we wish were not true. But the result of a properly-performed introspective journey is freedom in Christ.
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)