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  • Writer's pictureLMSpang

The Shirt that ruined my first Impression: A story about Humanity

All I could think about was finally getting to do my Discipleship Training School. In 2003 I started my YWAM career while I was still in high school. Over the two summers of volunteering in Mexico for YWAM’s Mission Adventure program, I kept my eyes set on when I would finally, FINALLY get to go do my own DTS. I used to go into the snack shack and pick up the hard copy of the GO Manual, a thick magazine highlighting all the schools in YWAM, and read the tiny little blurb about the DTS of my dreams. I was set on New Zealand to begin my solo YWAM experience but they forgot to write back. Instead, I landed in Newcastle, Australia. It was the perfect DTS for me—except for one minor detail.

October 2004 I was jet lagged, nervous, and in my first week of DTS, yet this was my dream finally realized! I was ALL-IN. The first Sunday we all went to church together. I remember picking out my outfit and feeling real cute. I had on a pink skirt, a dusty pink shirt my mom had just bought me, and a white sweatshirt. It was the height of 2004 fashion.

I remember sitting in the church service surrounded by people and it was warm. I took off my sweatshirt. After the service was over I mustered up my all-in courage and decided to thank the pastor for his teaching. I walked over and shook his hand,

“Hi, Pastor. My name is Lindsay. I am from the United States and I am thankful to have been able to attend your church service today. Thank you for your message.”

He was so awkward. It was uncomfortable. Then I was awkward. Maybe I was already awkward. Time to retreat. Why was this so uncomfortable? What was I missing? RETREAT!

A staff member rushed up to me and said, “Lindsay, you need to zip up your sweatshirt right now!” I looked down and paid attention to my shirt. It was a faded print vintage shirt my mom had bought from Old Navy. If you’ve ever been to Old Navy you’ll know it is not known to be a retail store full of risqué clothing. In fact, my friend Stephanie refers to the store as “Old Lady.”

Yet the print on the shirt was a picture of an old-fashioned gas pump with the words, “Fanny’s Fountain.” Still, I did not understand. Any readers from countries like Britain, Australia, or New Zealand will understand my problem immediately. While Fanny is a legitimate, if not dated first name for a woman, in countries such as mentioned above the word “fanny” is a slang word for ladies’ private parts. You heard that right.

So let’s back up. There I was, an innocent, excited 18-year-old, confidently introducing myself to the pastor of a large church, all while wearing a shirt that turned out to be an overly explicit declaration about lady bits.

I had to take my slice of humble pie, mortified by the first impression I had made. Eventually, I was able to add it to my favorite moments in life—moments of my humanity.

I had worn a horrendously offensive shirt to church and then introduced myself to the pastor, and believe me, he noticed. However, it wasn’t as if I had intentionally tried to offend anyone. I was operating out of my humanity.

When God created humans, he didn’t create all-knowing, all-powerful creatures. He created men and women to be limited, gifted, and finite. Then he said we were very good! It wasn’t out of my brokenness that I wore my offensive-to-the-Crown shirt, it was out of my limitedness. I was an 18-year-old farm kid with no experience in Australian slang.

My life has been riddled with embarrassing moments and I look forward to sharing them with you. Most of them come from being human and my capacity to do dumb things or have dumb things happen to me. Rather than feel upset about my less-than-godlike behavior, I remember Genesis 1, how God created man to be limited, gifted, and finite, and called us very good.

The pressure is off to be perfect. That was never intended. Yes, we are all broken from the fall, and through Jesus, we are now redeemed. But we are not redeemed to live a life of god-like perfection. We are redeemed to be fully human, creating beauty and awkward moments alike.

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Mar 03, 2023

Great story !! Always an adventure. I had something similar happen to be in my younger YWAM days


Mar 02, 2023

Lindsay we need to talk!!

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