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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

The Shepherd's Heart: Hanging on too long

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sometimes they seem like an old friend, a comfort in times of pain or stress, a "sure thing" when the waves of life get to tossing you around and you feel like you need an anchor.

I'm sure we all have them. Some have been in the family since we got married. Some have been through tough times and good times and all times in between. They're faded and threadbare, outdated and discolored, stained and maybe ripped a bit.

You know ... that old faithful sweat shirt you've been holding on to since way back in the day, that old logo shirt from work or school or your favorite vacation spot, that old sweatshirt with the cuffs so worn you can hook your thumbs through the holes and use the cuffs as gloves.

Don't laugh -- you've been there, and you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Maybe you have a lucky fishing shirt or a sweat shirt you keep by the door to use when you're gardening. Maybe yours features the mascot and colors of your favorite team, or your favorite race care driver or your favorite branch of the military. Perhaps it says something like, "My grandkids went to the Enchanted Forest and all I got was this stinking sweatshirt."

No matter what the color or the message, favorite old sweatshirts are hard to get rid of. I mentioned to a friend and coworker that maybe it was time for her to retire her old green work-related logo sweatshirt (you guessed it ... the dark green one from way back). She called me the next day and asked if I was going to start a collection for her to get a new one. But she's not the only one who hangs on to what's comfortable.

I'm been talking specifically about old sweat shirts. But it could be old sweaters or old caps, perhaps. Maybe your comfort wear is an old red plaid flannel robe. Maybe for you it's a specific pair of jeans. I had a favorite football jersey once. It met with a sad ending.

I had worn the jersey for years (yes ... years!) and like many of your favorites, it was faded and threadbare and the numbers were flaking off more and more with each washing. My dear wife suggested several times that it might be time to retire the old friend, but I would not relent.

Then we went on a weekend canoe trip, chaperoning with a youth group from church. When we got to the end of the run one day, we had to push the old aluminum canoe up a slick, muddy bank to get it out of the water. Being the graceful person that I am, I slipped and fell onto the back end of the canoe, ripping a huge gap into the front of the favorite jersey.

That night, the youth pastor in charge of the outing led the group in a symbolic burning of the jersey. I'm not sure what the ceremony was supposed to illustrate, but I do know the whole thing brought a tear to my eye.

By the way, if anyone stumbles across an old black Mizzou practice jersey with the number 75 on it (size 3x) -- I think I know someone who would be interested in taking it off your hands.

Just don't tell my wife.

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BOB G. STEWART, Columnist
The Shepherd's Heart