The Sweater

I have a friend who gives things away. If you tell her that you like her pocketbook, there’s a good chance she’ll empty it and give it to you. On the spot. She does this because the Lord has blessed her financially. And, she believes he has asked her to be generous with that blessing. So, she is.

It may sound weird that she would give a complete stranger her belongings, but it is so obviously a God-thing (or more specifically, a Holy Spirit empowered moment) because no one is ever uncomfortable about it. I mean, come on, a complete stranger giving you their purse is weird because it is a purse, and she has to empty it, while you stand there waiting to receive it  The fact that no one feels odd or just walks off, well, it speaks to a supernatural moment.

Skip to our friendship, and because we spent so much time together for a few years (now we live too far apart to see each other often) we had to instill a rule. She could not give me anything. Two women are forever complimenting each other on accessories and clothing, so if the rule were not in place, I’d own half her stuff. It’s like my Coastie Son said to her, “Karen, I love your house!” (And, no she did not give him her house, but we had a good laugh.)

There was one sweater though that I begged for suspension of the rule over. I coveted that sweater. But even she would not budge because it was her “comfort sweater.” It was the one she wore to defend herself against the onslaught of the world. I realize that is a wordy and dramatic sentence, but I also know that anyone who’s lived long enough, and is reading this, knows what I mean. Comfort foods, comfort clothes, comfort shows…the list goes on. We sometimes have to defend our minds and our bodies from the overload of a world of chaos. That sweater was part of her arsenal. After sorting the mail, double-checking the kid’s homework, picking up the day’s clutter in her home, and starting dinner for her family, on came the sweater. A sign. The world was out there for a bit. At least until tomorrow.

When my world fell apart, and I was in the process of moving, my birthday rolled around. I didn’t want to celebrate or even think about it, but Karen insisted we do something, which for us translates as a hike and lunch. Both of us are outdoor girls who prefer the 17 mile trek up to Mt. Pisgah over shopping. It did feel good to get outside, get my mind off of things, and enjoy lunch. But then, she said she had a gift for me in the car. It was her sweater. She’d had to bleach it quite a bit, and sew new buttons on it, but it was now mine. I understood exactly why she had chosen that moment to give it to me. It was for my comfort in a dark time.

We joked about it and laughed. Something we do a lot together, in the worst and best of times. I promised to gift it back to her, or someone else, when “their time came.”

Yesterday was a wonderful day. I felt light and lovely all day. I took a nap on my back porch and woke up with the sweater wrapped tight around me. I had used it as a blanket for my nap. As I normally do upon waking, I began to pray. I was praying for a friend who is struggling. My prayer was for her comfort. I wondered aloud if there was a way I could help alleviate her pain, and I couldn’t imagine there was. Her situation is so difficult and I felt helpless. But the Lord reminded me, “What about the sweater, Cinthia?”

So, out came the laundry detergent, and I went in search of the button box to sew new buttons on. Today, my friend has the sweater. I left her wrapped up in it, ready to download a season of Downtown Abbey. Comfort clothes, comfort shows. She has promised to gift it to the next person when “their time comes.”

! Corinthians 1 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.