Dad sports of my favorite shirts.

Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.
-G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

While others wax poetic this Father’s Day about how their dads taught them about God’s unfailing love or how to trust their Father in heaven—and I’ve done that too— today I’ll share something new.

I’ll tell you what this deep-thinking, furrow-browed daughter who tends to take herself way too seriously is learning from her dad’s shirts.

Don’t Take Yourself (Or Your Shirts) So Seriously

Funny T-Shirt

Don’t take yourself so seriously. I’m learning that people who can laugh at themselves are a breath of fresh air. Their self-deprecating jokes (See BALDI shirt above.) are refreshing.

I’m learning that a cheerful heart is good medicine, and not just for the cheerful heart but for the ones near that heart. I’m learning that sometimes the medicine takes the form of a T-shirt.

They both reinforce Dad’s lesson. God teaches, and heals, through laughter, including the chuckles that come from funny shirts. Maybe dad’s sort of shirts are the real “garments of praise”?

God has given me a bit of my own “shirt Rx” lately. One time it was a chocolate spot and the other dose came in a breezy new blouse that wasn’t really a blouse.

Lighten Up & Laugh

Laughing Jesus
THE LAUGHING JESUS, Willis Wheatley

Proverbs 14:13 is true, “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief.” But laughter is one sign of well-being and blessing in Luke 6:21, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”

Which reminds me of another Proverb Dad quotes: “The cheerful heart has a continual feast.”

For years, he had a picture of the Laughing Jesus posted on the fridge.

Our words are the fruit of our hearts. Kind hearts speak kind words, grateful hearts speak thankful words, hearts at rest give words of peace. And humble hearts laugh.

But they might cover up with funny shirts.

Nevertheless

Just because Dad wears a Wiley Coyote T-shirt and laughs so loud at Laurel and Hardy or What About Bob? that you can hear him a mile away doesn’t mean he’s carefree and never has a heavy heart.

Dad holding funny shirt Wiley Coyote

What it does mean is that Dad can add the “nevertheless” like the Psalmist Asaph did. After he recounted in bitter detail the envy-inducing prosperity of the wicked, Asaph got to this near the end of Psalm 73.

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
    you hold my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will receive me to glory

Nevertheless.

In other words, all that bad stuff is still true. Asaph didn’t retract all the all the ways the bad guys were winning. For now, the wicked might get away with murder.

But Asaph shifted his focus.

I love what English pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote said about Asaph.

In a chapter titled, “Nevertheless” (Faith Tried & Triumphant, p. 168), Lloyd-Jones writes,

“A very good way of testing whether we are truly Christian or not is just to ask ourselves whether we can say this ‘nevertheless.’ Do we know this blessed ‘but’? Do we go on, or do we stop where we were…?”

I’ve told you before about the wicked-mean chrome dome comment that mortified this sensitive seventh grader. He just laughed. He wears a BALDI shirt for goodness’s sake.

It was not a mean laugh. It was a “nevertheless” laugh. A good-medicine, leap in the darkness laugh. It was a “God’s got this,” laugh, I think.

That laugh is teaching me to lighten up.

Life Is Good Again

Dad can laugh. Like Sarah the mother of Laughter, Dad recognizes the “wild incongruity of life.” Dad knows that things are not always what they seem.

A few days ago, I plodded up the sidewalk to Mom and Dad’s, heavy-hearted over hefty conflict at home which was compounded by, let’s just say, the weight of the wicked world, myself included in that weight.

Then I lifted my eyes to see Dad, hose in hand, Crocs on, rinsing lettuce for market. But dad was not dressed in a any old shirt. He was wearing his “WHO SAID SKIRT?”shirt.

Dad wearing funny shirt
Another favorite: Dad’s kilt-skirt-shirt.

A glance at my dad in that shirt was all it took. Suddenly life was good again.

Nevertheless. It might feel like a leap in the dark to cut loose and laugh. But a cheerful heart really is good medicine.

And funny shirts are Dad’s choice drugs.

A [humble] man must sacrifice himself to the God of Laughter, who has stricken him with a sacred madness. As a woman can make a fool of a man, so a joke makes a fool of a man. And a man must love a joke more than himself, or he will not surrender his pride for it. A man must take what is called a leap in the dark, as he does when he is married or when he dies, or when he is born, or when he does almost anything else that is important.

-G.K. Chesterton, in “W.W. Jacobs”, an article which appeared in The Tribune in 1906
Collected in A Handful of Authors  (1953)

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