What does that even mean and why is it keeping me awake at midnight when I have an early morning ahead? I received an email just before bedtime from some one called Bob. The communication included nothing offensive, but everything about it is really hacking me off. Why? Well, because Bob has burnt his breeches.
Have you heard this expression? I laughed when the thought first crossed my mind. I heard the 14-yr-old version of myself say it with the immense southern drawl that I flaunted in my youth. Is this even something that people say? Google says yes. My first hit was in reference to a political candidate who had officially “burned his breeches in The South.” The fact that the expression has been stated by at least one other individual gave me the go-ahead to explore the adage—what did that child in my head mean by burning the breeches? What follows are only the results of my musing. Thank you for obliging me as I go around by Laura’s house in search of a point.
I’ve heard this cliché stated in two ways: (1) breeches being torn(or more accurately “toe’”) and (2) breeches being burned. After expending more thought than I would have liked to this matter, I have come to the conclusion that the latter is the more severe condition. Torn breeches must be easier to fix; a simple patch could conceal a tear or a rip in breeches and restore them to like-new condition. Burnt breeches are going to result in a much bigger problem. Burnt breeches are going to have the stench of burnt fabric and most likely burnt flesh. Burnt breeches are going to leave a much larger hole and possibly a scar. Burnt breeches, although patchable, will always bear the mark of burnt breeches. If anybody ever sees you wearing those pants, they will know that you done burned your breeches.
Burning the breeches is not only the more severe condition, but seems also quite irreversible. You can’t put those ashes back together and restore the garment to the original condition. Ever.
Breeches are important. Breeches cover from the waist down, and when you expose yourself from the waist down, ain’t nobody ever gonna look at you the same way. Another probably southern-in-origin expression says “He showed his arse.” This refers to someone who has acted in a way which has revealed the worst of his character. Burning the breeches then, as far as I can surmise, refers to a breach in behavior which has been witnessed by numerous individuals and reveals the worst of one’s character to an irreversible and unforgivable degree.
All this considered, I can say with full confidence that Bob has indeed burned his breeches. When I think of him, I only see the ways he has offended me and others. His character has come to to be defined by his conniving and belittling ways. I now feel quite comfortable giving myself permission to go back to sleep with the satisfaction of knowing that my hard feelings are justified. My human understanding of fairness and reciprocity give me permission to settle in for blissful dreams of karma and retribution.
But my faith won’t allow it.
It really doesn't matter what Bob did last year, last month, or last week. I doesn’t even matter what Bob does tomorrow. Bob is a citizen of Earth. But I am a citizen of Heaven. I am called to live above the laws of this world and to Love Bob unconditionally, just as Christ loves me. This does not excuse Bob’s behavior and doesn’t mean that I stand by and watch as Bob destroys others. It means that I fight Bob. However, I fight with—and only with—those weapons dispensed by The Spirit—the sword of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and as coverings for my feet, the gospel of peace.