Faith: A closet-cleaning may be a personality inventory

By Curtis Shelburne
Religion columnist

I usually love to be home. I’m rarely ever able to be at home as much as I like. But today I needed to be somewhere else.

You see, the closet was being cleaned, and the cleaning lady was ruthless. It doesn’t help that I’ve been carrying on an affair with her for over 41 years.

I admit that my side of the closet has been getting more than a little cluttered. But I’ve been consistent. I’ve applied to the closet the same philosophy that has served me well in the garage for over 30 years. If I might possibly need it, I keep it. And, regarding clothing, like faithful ol’ Deets in “Lonesome Dove,” I’ve never been “one to give up on a garment because of a little age.” That, my friends, is good stewardship. Frugal, it is.

It’s been years since I wore a flannel shirt. But I kept two just in case. They’re now gone. Off in today’s whirlwind.

I have a few denim shirts that I like to wear—one at a time—over a Henley shirt if I’m working outside in the winter, cutting wood, burning stuff in the fire pit, or just enjoying sitting out and breathing crisp air. So what if one had a smoldered hole in the pocket where some doofus — let’s say, my wife’s husband — dropped in an old pipe that still evidently had a puff or two left in it? That shirt’s history now.

I’ve got ties, quite a rack of them, that went out of style years ago. That means they’ll soon be back in style. Never one to miss out on a fashion wave (I wave as they go by), I plan to keep them. These days I rarely wear a tie except, at weddings and funerals and other occasions of sorrow. But when 6-inch wide ties come back in style, I’m ready. Looks like I’m set to go, too, regarding color/pattern options since evidently you can now go into your closet in the dark, pick any tie, any shirt, stripes on top of zigzags on top of polka dots, and you’ll fit right in.

I suppose a closet and what’s in it is a bit of a personality assessment of the person who hangs, stacks, and folds the stuff residing there. I’m not sure I’m warm and fuzzy, but I promise you, any garment I’ll wear for long this winter will be the following: Soft. Comfortable. Bigger rather than smaller, if it’s a choice.

My closet shows my open-mindedness about color, as long as it’s blue, burgundy, black, or gray (the soft, natural, cotton kind). I’m not much interested in brown, orange, or yellow—except the  brown turtleneck shirt retired with honor almost 10 years ago when my brand new firstborn granddaughter’s inked feet were “stamped” on it courtesy of a great nurse (her great-aunt).

The cleaning gal ran across a ski jacket or two,  couple of motorcycle jackets, a favorite t-shirt and a sweatshirt (or a few) so mellowed with wear that only anorexic moths would even try for a bite. Some garments are memory repositories, and many need a year or ten to get them really ready to be comfortable.

I considered hiding a garment or two so as to help the cleaning lady maintain a positive state of mind. She really has worked hard. The closet looks great. I just can’t find anything.

I’m thankful to serve a Lord who “knows just what I need,” who wisely tells me what to “put on” and what to “cast off,” and who has “clothed” me in the best garment of all.

Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at