One UGLY shirt

ImageYou know what they say about good intentions.

Two and a half years ago, with the very best intentions, I began constructing this shirt for my husband Kim. I can’t remember now whether it was intended for Christmas or his birthday. Whatever my plan, I intended to replace the horrid, moth-eaten wool shirt he’d salvaged from a goodwill bag.

The old gray shirt was his favorite. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he’d only worn it to change oil on the boat. But no! That ugly thing went everywhere, to dinner at fine restaurants, to church, and to visit good friends. I hated that thing.

I figured if he had something better, something Not-Holey, he would certainly choose to wear the nicer shirt instead. And so I marched down to the Mill End store in Portland and bought this lovely brown wool twill. With both confidence and enthusiasm I cut out the fabric and began putting the pieces together. Of course it would be lovely. I’ve been sewing for more than forty years. What could go wrong?

Turns out almost everything.

For two years, I’ve been alternately fighting with or ignoring that stupid shirt. A less stubborn woman would have thrown it away. Not I! Yesterday, as I was battling my way through the final steps of construction, I realized where I’d made my most crucial mistake.

I chose the wrong material.

What I wanted to create was one of those Pendleton Wool board shirts,

Image

with crisp collars and perfectly aligned top stitching. Mine, of course, would fit Kim perfectly. And, because I’d chosen twill instead of flannel, it wouldn’t itch.

It certainly doesn’t itch. But it also won’t press. No matter how much I steam and clap and topstitch, this twill absolutely refuses to conform. Instead, the fabric springs back, distorting the hem and the collar stand. Not a single seams lies flat. The twill has a mind of its own, and it clearly doesn’t want to be a man’s shirt.

It kind of reminds me of human nature. When sin entered the world, humanity could no longer conform to God’s standards. It wasn’t that we didn’t WANT to obey. It was that sin had changed the fabric of our human nature. What might have once rolled, eased, and lay flat under God’s gentle hand instead resisted. Springing away from his guidance, we (like that stubborn shirt) refused to be conformed into the godly image he had in mind.

Instead, we went our own way.

So, what did God do? Unlike me, he didn’t consider giving up and throwing us away. He didn’t ignore the problem (rolling us up and stuffing us in a box). Instead, God chose to transform the material. By his mighty hand, he provided a way to turn that stubborn resistant fabric into something he could work with. Something compliant. Something beautiful.

That transforming work happens by faith whenever we choose to turn away from sin and toward God. It happens at salvation (Behold all things are made new), and it happens every time we choose repentance over rebellion.

As for the shirt? I’m about to add buttonholes. It will never be the shirt i envisioned. And perhaps it will end up in the Goodwill bag. But the lessons I’ve learned in the process are worth more than the value of the fabric.

Comply or resist? What will you choose?

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3 Responses to “One UGLY shirt”

  1. Duane J. YOUNG Says:

    “The lessons I’ve learned in the process” — isn’t that true of most of our journeys along the pathway to God? Great post.

  2. lloyd Goodpaster Says:

    You are something else…great way to express our rebellion!

    On Tue, Jun 4, 2013 at 10:53 AM, Bette Nordberg’s Blog wrote:

    > ** > Bette Nordberg posted: “You know what they say about good > intentions. Two and a half years ago, with the very best intentions, I > began constructing this shirt for my husband Kim. I can’t remember now > whether it was intended for Christmas or his birthday. Whatever my plan, I > inte”

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