Bibs and aprons are essentially the same sort of garment with the same purpose: they keep your clothes protected from food stains. The biggest difference between these two items is the wearer. If you are wearing a bib you are being fed. If you are wearing an apron you are feeding those around you. When and how do we decide which to wear? Read on!
I have an old, faded apron that has been washed so many times that it is limp and worn. It fits me perfectly after all this time and I tie it on without thought each day. I bought the striped apron years ago and embroidered my monogram on it because that is what Southern Women do. They monogram things. Aprons, napkins, jackets, shower curtains. Anything that stands still in a southern home gets monogramed. I have no idea why. I just fell in line and bought an embroidery machine. I monogram stuff. But back to my point.
When I wear this apron I am on a mission. I am feeding my people. I am cleaning things so that my people can use them with more comfort. I am serving those that I love. The apron is my uniform, my armor, my mantle. The apron reminds me that I love to serve and I serve to love. It is a circle of life and love. Love and service, very often, go hand in hand.
I have a couple of bibs hanging around too. They are not monogramed, because I kept them handy for several different grandbabies to use. They were, however, appliqued. Applique is an acceptable second choice after monogramming. In certain circumstances. The non-existent "Guide To Southern Womanhood", published in an unwritten form by countless unknown authors, carefully codifies all the unwritten rules. Except when it doesn't. You just have to know. Or be told.
I keep bibs around for those who are not able to wear aprons. Those precious people that wear bibs are fragile. They are to be served, cared for, cherished, and nurtured. Those that wear bibs typically fall into one of two life stages: the very young, or the very old. Either way, those that wear a bib are those who are being fed. They are being helped through all the various chores that maintain life and health.
If you are wearing a bib, you need help eating food to keep your body well. You may need help bathing so that your body is clean. You need help being entertained and companioned so that you are not lonely or isolated. You probably need help managing other body functions. You need help remembering things. You need to receive more encouragement than you are expected to give. You need to be smiled at, spoken to, included, engaged, enjoyed, treasured, cherished. Because the years of wearing a bib are few. On either end of the bib wearing spectrum. Life is like a fleeting bit of grass that is here now and withered away tomorrow.
You see, most of us spend most of our lives wearing aprons. Or we should. There are, however, those who find bibs so comfortable and so reassuring that they wear them long after or long before they have reached the stage when it is appropriate. They hang on to being served and catered to. The bib feels snug and pleasant. So they keep wearing it. I find this terribly sad because the joy of serving others is so much greater than being served.
Those who are wearing our aprons enjoy demonstrating love through active service. We use our natural gifts. I have friends who are natural or professional bookkeepers and they help their older family members keep their finances in order. We have neighbors who are unable to mow their grass so my husband and some other neighbors keep the lawns cleaned up. I and many others enjoy preparing meals so we provide food when friends need that help. Apron wearers listen, smile, work with their hands, and consider it a privilege to serve.
Jesus showed us how to wear an apron when he put a towel around His waist and washed the feet of His disciples. It was a dirty job, a lowly job, and a job with a short lived result. Feet get dirty quickly on dusty roads. Christ knew that the disciples feet were going to need washing again soon but He washed them anyway. Jesus knew that one set of feet He washed was going to walk right out to betray Him. He washed them anyway.
When do we take off our bibs and put on our aprons? How do we know when it is time to do this? What are some good techniques for teaching children to take off their bibs when it is time? Here are a few thoughts for this.
The Fundamental Shift The fundamental shift is what happens in young adulthood when you realize that the responsibility for your own life and, perhaps, the lives of others is in your hands. It happens perhaps when you become a parent. Maybe it happens when the parent you depended on becomes unable to bear the burden of responsibility any longer. In a church setting, the fundamental shift may occur when you realize that the children need Sunday school teachers and the ones doing that are too old. When there is a service you are able to offer that you've never offered before and you step up to do it, this is the fundamental shift. You have taken your eyes off yourself and put them on the needs of others. Some people never do this. But you can. You have a gift that the world needs and only you can offer it. Make the shift.
Help Children Make The Fundamental Shift As children get older and more capable it is important to help them see that humans are designed to care for one another. Whether that means watching out for smaller children on a playground, or picking up a dropped article for an older person, or cleaning up after themselves, children can learn a little at a time. They want to be integrated into their community. In our church, which has a Methodist tradition, children are confirmed in the sixth grade. During this class they are taught a lot of history, a lot of basic Christian truths, and that they are now able to help maintain the church for the younger ones coming along. This is the fundamental shift for the children in our church. We teach this.
Demonstrate The Fundamental Shift. When in your home, neighborhood, or church life you are doing the work of an apron wearer, make sure that there are children around who can help and watch. If at all possible, have a child or two working at your side. I know it is harder and takes longer. Do it anyway. Explain as you work what you are doing and why. This is how children learn and grow. This is how children begin to loosen their bibs and get ready to put on aprons. Take delight in serving and tell the children around you why you love to serve. You are being Christ to the world.
We wear bibs and we wear aprons at different life stages. Sometimes, after a traumatic event we have to take off our apron, put on a bib, and let others serve us as we heal. But as we begin to get back to health we very often find that wearing an apron and serving others is a marvelous way to restore our hearts. Wearing an apron is rewarding. But monogram it first.