The Parable of Dad's Cool Shirt

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The kingdom of heaven is hidden in an awkward middle school girl:

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When I was in middle school, the labels I wore on my clothes were important to me. Tommy Hilfiger was a big one back then in the mid-west.

As a small, sixth grade girl, I walked the school halls in the only Tommy Hilfiger shirt I could find in our home. It came from my dad’s closet.

He is 6’2”.

It was a collared, men's, engineer-type shirt, and it probably hung down to my knees. The decision was not based on how it fit me or even if I liked the color.

I chose that shirt because it had someone else’s name and seal on it, and I hoped that wearing Tommy stamped on me would somehow give me worth.

I truly hoped that if I belonged to the crowd of people that wore Tommy, I’d be accepted, make friends, and be found beautiful.

And maybe, in wearing dad's Tommy shirt, I'd be noticed by the guy of my sixth grade dreams.  As if he’d pass me notes during class because of this sideways letter “H” stamped over my heart. He would be so blind with admiration that he would not notice how badly the pale color washed me out and how the flag logo was closer to my belly button than my heart, where it should have been!

I know. It's funny! But oh, so true.

Some of us grow up and trade out Tommy for Patagonia or Coach. Others of us were let down by Tommy’s power to give us value and acceptance so we reached for new labels. In high school, some of us moved on to wear “overachiever” on our lapel, or "state champion" or “slut” or “drum major.”  Add a few years and what is it now? Supermom? Domestic goddess? Servant of all?

In the quiet, even after striving so hard after these labels, we somehow know they fall short.

The sideways flag seemed superficial to me for the longest time. But the more I think on it, the more I realize it’s a shadow of the Kingdom of God.

We certainly get a lot of it all mixed up and turned around, but His kingdom was there in the halls of my middle school. It was hidden within the heart of that insecure girl with glasses who checked the curl of her bangs in her locker mirror…

Do you see it?

That logo revealed my deepest desire: to belong, to be valued, to be beautiful. That desire is part of the design of God’s kingdom.

You may think, “Yes, but you sure turned to the wrong place to fulfill that one!”

Did I?

I needed loved and accepted. And where did I go?

To my Father, to His closet, to wear His clothes, to be marked with His seal, to have His name written on me.

That right there is the gospel, my friends.