On Ironing Shirts and Other Formalities

A Morning Chore

This morning I ironed 2 shirts, and it was rather enjoyable. One was mine and the other was Mike’s. Both dress shirts, his a light cotton plaid blue, and mine pink with white collar and cuffs.

I could hear the younger boys arguing outside the bathroom door while I worked. Probably over a toy car. Possibly about pouring too much breakfast cereal. At one point someone pounded a small fist on the outside of the door, right near my knee level.

“Go upstairs to go potty! I’m ironing!” I hollered. I heard footsteps retreat. When there is potential a kid might have to help me with anything laundry-involved, amazingly I am granted a few more minutes peace.

Each shirt finished crisp with pressed collars and cuffs. I hung them slightly warm and breathed a small sigh of contentment.

For about 8 years of my life I don’t recall I ironed one single item of clothing. If it required ironing, it wasn’t to be mine. A second spin in the dryer with a damp towel was the closest I came.

An Opposite Judgement

When I was 100 pounds heavier than I am now, my uniform was a huge t-shirt, a sweatshirt, and the stretchiest pants I could find. Hair in a ponytail, make-up optional.

I told myself I was far above caring about looks.  I didn’t have the time nor the energy for such pursuits in vanity.

I was an opposite-clothing-snob.

I was judgmental of people who dressed nicely and groomed themselves with care, telling myself they invested too much time and effort into outward appearances, which should not matter.

After all, “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Yet my heart was not where it needed it be. I was caught in a web of addiction, self-loathing, and judgement on myself and others.

“Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, ESV) Yet my heart was not where it needed it be. I was caught in a web of addiction, self-loathing, and judgement on myself and others.

Casual Too an Extreme

Our society has become more casual over these last few decades. Entertaining has changed from reserved fine china and silver to heavy-duty paper plates and the nicest clear plastic-wear at Costco. Some careers still require a suit and tie, but they are becoming more rare by the year.

This is not all negative. With casual we become more real. We offer authenticity. Come and join me for dinner. I don’t have the fanciest table, but you are welcome to join the party. Kick off your shoes, lose the tie, and be yourself here.

On the other hand, when we give up all formality, a quiet whisper of something is lost. When I never ironed a shirt, I was able to let the pounds pile on and could pretend I wasn’t noticing — even more so, that it was within my moral code not to care.

These days, I iron once in awhile. I put on a necklace with matching earrings. I’m no fashionista, but I put in a little more effort. Enough that when I go out on a date with my husband, he feels special and my appearance says, “I care about you. I put in time to look great for you tonight.”

We Offer What We Have

When I go to church, I look my best, not because God cares about my outward appearance, but because my body is part of my offering and I want to offer all I have. Believe me, God wants us there. If our best that day is jeans and a t-shirt, we get ourselves to church in jeans and a t-shirt. We just go.

We offer what we have, because whatever we have is our best when given to God for His use.

Let’s just remember to value the people around us if their best doesn’t look like ours — wrinkled or ironed smooth.On Ironing Shirts and Other Formalities

Do you iron shirts? Why or why not?