The Plaid Shirt

by Rhonda, February 20, 2022


 He showed it to me proudly.  "How do you like my new shirt?"

It was still on the hanger, freshly removed from the Wal-Mart bag.  

It was a shirt he would look good in.  The plaid was green and blue, and it would accentuate his blue eyes.  

"It cost seventeen dollars," he said.  "I only had twenty dollars, but it was worth it.  There were others on clearance, but they didn't look as nice as this one."

My son bought the shirt for one purpose.  To wear to church.  Several years of online schooling, compounded with the year he sat out during his cancer surgery, meant we were no longer stocked up on dress clothes for him.  No, his closet consisted mainly of t-shirts, sweatshirts, and sweat pants.

None of these clothes, he decided, were appropriate for church.

So, with his last twenty dollars, he asked his grandfather to take him to Wal-Mart on a Friday.  He shopped for a new, button-down, plaid shirt to wear to church.  Grandfather and grandson did a good job of picking out his new shirt.  He purchased it just in time to wear to church this weekend.

The night before church, Alex realized he'd left his shirt out on his bed and one of the dogs had laid on it.  Concerned it would be dirty, he washed and dried his new plaid shirt.  The next morning, he was pretty upset when it came out of the dryer a wrinkled mess.  I was running late, so I asked Leeza to help him iron his shirt.  His sister came to his rescue, ironing it until it looked good as new.

Unfortunately, given the issues around the wrinkles and the need to iron, we were late to church.  Let me tell you, I hate being late.  I am a type A, on-time personality.  As an accountant, the debits have to equal the credits, and when we're supposed to be somewhere we should be on time.

But, we were late.  As we got out of the car to walk into church on a cold February day, Alex began to complain about the cold.  I was already trying to hurry into church, and his complaints annoyed me.  "Son," I said, "we've been over this so many times.  Wear. A. Coat.  I don't feel sorry for you when you refuse to wear a coat."

We hurried inside to church and sat through the service.  As we left church, he commented on the cold again, so I took the opportunity to belabor my point that God helps those who help themselves, and he has a variety of coats at home to choose from.  "I'm sorry, Mom." he said.

I'm not sure exactly what time this morning I awoke to the Holy Spirit providing some clarification.  You know, God has a way of letting me know when I've missed something with my kids.  Sometime early this morning, I opened my eyes to the realization He didn't wear a coat because he wanted to show his new shirt.

Bam.  

Oh, the tears I've shed over this today.  I'm not sure why it has wrecked me so completely, but I think its because I was in such a hurry to be on time to church that I missed seeing my son's heart.  He wanted to look nice.  He didn't want to wrinkle his shirt.  He bought the shirt not to show off to others, but to show respect to God.  He was willing to brave the cold to do so.  

I, his Mom, who should have been supportive, missed it.  If this were a parenting test, I failed with a zero percent.

As soon as I heard him stirring in his room this morning, I came in to apologize to him.  "Mom," he smiled, "please don't worry about it."  

But, I can't help it.   

I flipped back through an old journal, and my eyes landed on a quote from Ann Voskamp:

Doesn't all the hurry make us hurt?  Slow never killed time.  It's the rushing and racing, the trying to catch up, this is what kills time - ourselves.  

And another:

You can only hear your life sing when you're still.

I don't want to miss a blessing because I'm in a hurry.  I know that Alex is likely to wear his plaid shirt every Sunday for the foreseeable future.  For him, its a show of respect to God.  

For me, it will always be a reminder to stop the hurry.


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