It happened to me again just the other day. I saw a woman wearing an I love my husband, t-shirt.
And it made me feel like shit.
And because I’m a thinker, I wondered why I allowed a t-shirt the power to make me to feel like shit. It’s just a t-shirt with a harmless message. It was just a nice wife saying something nice and affirming to her husband. (Although for the life of me I don’t understand why we can’t just turn to the people we love and tell them we love them to their faces. Now it has to be emblazoned across our chests and instagrammed and tweeted…but that’s just a 40 something human still trying to wrap her head around this Brave New Social Media World.)
Was it because I, too, loved a husband once, and he chose not to love me back?
Was it because I was simply snarky and jealous of this husband loving wife?
Was it because this whole divorce thing has caused me to question God – even Its existence?
Maybe…probably. Okay, I check yes to all of the above.
But none of those answers are good enough to settle my unsettled heart, and if I’m still contemplating a harmless t-shirt a week after its brief appearance in my life, something’s up spiritually. Today, once again I cried myself through a church service where I felt like a fish out of water while a nice family with a nice mother and father and two nicely dressed sons read one of my favorite faith passages, Hebrews 11, while I sobbed faithless and alone up in the very back row of the church balcony, wondering why on earth I was still coming to church. Why was I still thinking about that damn t-shirt?
And the thought occurred to me, Could I wear a t-shirt that read, “I love my EX husband?” Because really, that’s what the Gospel boils down to, right? Love God. Love Others. All Others. Not Some Others.
Could my friends who have endured molestations and beatings wear I love my abuser. t-shirts?
Could those falsely accused, spending years in a wretched prison wear shirts that say I love our judicial system?
Could someone who’s lost a child in a car accident don a t-shirt emblazoned with I love the drunk driver who killed my kid?
And who would MAKE these shirts?
And who would MARKET these shirts?
And how would we REACT to these shirts? Let’s face it, seeing shirts like that walking around on the streets would make us feel more than a little uncomfortable. Loving someone who loves you back is easy. Loving someone who violates you or your trust is a whole other ballgame…
…but GRACE IS UNCOMFORTABLE.
Grace doesn’t say roll over and take it and go back and ask, Please, sir might I have some more.
But it does say Forgive as I have forgiven you. Love as I have loved you.
However, Grace has no timetable. It doesn’t demand instant forgiveness and lots of kumbayaing around the campfire together. That’s Cheap Grace to steal a term from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, someone who knew a thing or two about the giving and receiving of Grace. Cheap Grace spouts off platitudes and plays nice. It wears t-shirts that don’t make everyone feel uncomfortable.
Real Grace doesn’t roll over and play nice and appease everyone. Real Graces demands we walk through the fire, wrestle with God, live transparent lives and refuse to go quietly.
I’m not ready to wear an I love my Ex Husband t-shirt anytime soon, and if you are honest, I’m sure there’s someone, somewhere that you aren’t ready to dress up in a t-shirt for either.
So for now I cling to my belief that Grace is eternal, and God has Its own timetable, and as the poet penned the words, Twas Grace that brought me safe thus far, and Grace will lead me home, I too, am choosing to follow Grace all the way home…even if there’s no t-shirt for me.