It's a Good Idea to Air Your Dirty Laundry
By Janel Breitenstein
I have four children.
Which is to say, I have laundry.
Occasionally, it threatens to swallow me whole in a malodorous melange of gym socks. Hoodies. Underwear thrown a precise 14 inches from the hamper.
I have heard of people having “laundry day” at their house. This is not a possibility unless I prefer death by (laundry) drowning. Levi’s and t-shirts snap at my heels, threatening to overtake.
I can get the clothes into the washer and dryer. I would love laundry, if that’s all it took. But then I must fold (well, supervise folding), making sure rogue articles of clothing don’t get buried forever in my teenage sons’ dresser drawers, which have parallels to the Amazon rainforest. No one comes out alive.
(We can create cars that drive themselves, but we have yet to invent a dryer that folds. Just sayin’.)
Then I alone must soldier onward, ensuring children insert laundry in said drawers. This must happen before piles or baskets are kicked over and we are returned to the misery of folding.
I could throw in the towel. But that would be more to wash.
Hidden in all those unmatched socks and clean clothes my kids slip back into the hamper to avoid putting away is a marriage metaphor.
As humans, it’s natural for our bodies to produce odors and all the stuff that makes clean clothes dirty.
As married humans, it’s expected we will leave behind a trail of pain, anger, and mistakes.
But for the love of Pete: Keep up with the laundry.
Apologize to your spouse; there’s likely something daily that needs to be “washed.” Frequently restore what you make dirty, relationally speaking. Diligently restore order from self-created chaos, even though it’s a never-ending battle.
Anticipate your spouse will get dirty, too—sometimes downright disgusting.
But if you’re used to staying on top of the laundry? And if you’re aware your own clothes get pretty ripe from time to time?
Maybe it’ll be a smaller deal than you think.
The good stuff: So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)
Action points: In the passage above, Jesus places reconciled relationships as priority before worship. When you come to God in prayer, first allow him to indicate what “laundry” may need to be washed between you and your spouse. Make “I’m sorry” and “Will you forgive me?” part of your home’s daily vocabulary.
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