Why I’m Not Afraid to Air My Dirty Laundry On Sundays

be still and know that I am GodLast Sunday we returned from a family trip in the wee hours of the morning. After attending church and eating a good meal, we spent the majority of the afternoon relaxing, what we normally do on Sundays. A day of rest. A day set aside for worship. A day different from the rest.

With today’s technology, it’s easy to do laundry without effort. You put clothes in a machine, turn a dial, and press a button. Going to my child’s bedroom requires more work than that.  It’s a simple process.

Last Sunday, I did the unthinkable – I did some laundry and hung it on the clothes line.

Gasp.

I’ve come a long way in being okay with hanging up laundry on Sundays occasionally.  We live on a main highway in a small conservative town. Stores aren’t open here on Sundays. People don’t mow lawns on Sundays. And you don’t air your dirty laundry on Sundays or people will see.

Like other unwritten rules, I’ve learned to assess the root and value of them.

Are they for man or are they for God?

I’ve learned to check my motives for breaking silent codes that bring looks of “I can’t believe she’s doing that.”  Hanging clothes on the clothesline on Sundays is one I’m not bothered by because there’s a principle I value:

I should be the same person in public that I am in private. 

If I’m okay with occasionally doing a few loads of laundry on Sunday, then I should be okay with letting people know about it.  God sees it anyway. I can’t hide things from Him.  He sees my dirty laundry.

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Does He see yours? Or do you try to hide it?

For years I hid my dirty laundry from others. Not the stinky-teen-boy kind, but the unhealthy behaviors I struggled with. Having an eating disorder was a very private thing. No one knew my stuff except me and God and my parents on occasions. I was good at hiding things.

Are you good at hiding things?

For years I responded to conflict with anger. As my children grew older, I couldn’t hide it. It began overtaking my relationships with them and their dad. It was easy to hide, too. I could do a lot of good yelling before going to church and sit really calm in that church pew.

There’s an unwritten rule you aren’t supposed to struggle with things.

You definitely aren’t supposed to be angry in a pacifist faith.

I learned to hide things real well.

So people wouldn’t see.

But God saw.

And as He nudged me to address the anger, the hurt, and rage, I felt more comfortable letting Him wash my dirty stuff. He was gentle with  it and He removed the stains and stink and filth and exchanged it for clean, bright, and beautiful through the forgiveness and power of His grace.

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It’s been a journey with me and God. As He’s changed me inside and out, things have changed in how I relate to unwritten rules.  I’ve learned to answer to God first, then my husband and family above anyone else.

Paul says, “My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t make me innocent.” I Corinthians 4:4

What guides your choices?

Having a clear conscious in the eyes of others doesn’t make us innocent.

While it’s trivial, I’ve learned in my accountability with God, is okay to do laundry every once in a while on a Sunday. I’ve learned I answer to Him for my actions. I could have an empty clothesline every Sunday but be cheating on my husband Saturday night.

It’s all in how it looks, right?

Where do you need to get honest with God?

What I love most about God is that He sees everything and yet He pursues us because He wants a relationship with us.  He pursued me for years to change and heal from an eating disorder and to change and heal from anger, hurt, and rage that was inside of me. I’ve learned I can air my dirty laundry with Him and it’s okay.  He makes us clean and bright, to be on full display in His clothes of righteousness, not ours.

Will you let Him clothe you today? It’s safe  with Him. He won’t fail you.

Father, will you speak to each one reading these words and take the contents of their heart and make it what you desire? Will you equip those who struggle with unwritten rules and judgment from others to know you love them and are a God of grace, forgiveness, and freedom?  Will you continue to pursue those who are struggling with things inside their heart that only you know about?  

Thank you, Jesus, for washing dirty, smelling rags and making us beautiful in you. Amen.

How can I pray with you or encourage you as you learn to walk in freedom? I’d love to hear.

P.S. There will be a new look to Life Beyond the Picket Fence soon as I launch a new website for the blog.  You’ll be able to subscribe to a newsletter linking you to the other things happening here at the ministry and connect you with the other sites I’m writing for. If you are a current subscriber by email, I’m hoping the transition will be smooth. I’ll keep you posted when the site is launched so there won’t be interruptions in your connection here with us.  Thank you!

Needed: A Few Good Men, And More

Today’s one of those days I’m overcome with emotion.  We celebrated my father-in-law’s 80th birthday.  Those of you who know him know what a rare, exemplary, yet humble man he is.  He raised four boys who are men of integrity and goodness.  I have the privilege to be married to one of them.  I often joke saying I married Opie, being raised in a Mayberry environment of honesty, fear of God, integrity, hard work, faithfulness, commitment, and compassion.  It’s an honor to have such a legacy for my own boys who are growing into their own manhood.Image

I also saw about twenty men today singing “Triumphantly the Church Will Rise” at the end of our church service.  Twenty men from thirty to eighty-five.  As I looked in their faces, I knew each of these men were good, honorable men.  Men with legacies behind them and in front of them they are quietly making impact in.  My heart was overwhelmed with joy and heartache for men, like them, who are needed and missing in action.

I don’t get too hyped by elections because I know it’s individual homes that make a nation.  “As the leader goes, so goes the nation.”  Many homes in our communities are missing good leadership.  Everyday I interact with kids whose leaders in their lives are physically absent, emotionally absent, or chasing after self-destructive priorities.  This state of the union is not confined to inner city or back roads rural communities.  It’s in every neighborhood, every socioeconomic class, every race and religion.  It’s an epidemic.

Last year when the Superbowl came to my state capital, there were outcries in the Christian community about sex trafficking.   Yet I wondered why we weren’t holding men accountable who solicit casual, abusive sex?   I get frustrated as I work with women traumatized by sexual abuse and relationship violence.  Where is the outcry and accountability for men who misuse and demean women and children?   Where is accountability for raising children instead of just fathering them?  Where can we invest in the lives of men and boys raising the expectations, allowing them to be all they desire to be in their heart of hearts?

Our nation, our communities, the children in our neighborhoods and homes need more than just a few good men.

I’m tired of violence, sex, drugs, and misplaced priorities. I’m tired of young veterans committing suicide.  I’m tired of story after story of adult women and men trying to heal from childhood sexual abuse.   These are the things weighing down our nation.  It’s not Obamacare or debt.  It’s the soul and spirit of each child sitting in our classrooms, their parents hurting from their own brokenness.  Help won’t come by one more term.  Hope comes by honorable men sharpening other honorable men and reaching out to men who need mentors.  By women affirming the honorable men in their lives rather than tearing them down.   It comes by walking away from things that are wrong for the sake of children rather than indulging in momentary pleasures. It comes by talking honestly about things men struggle with rather than thinking it doesn’t happen, and having safe places for accountability and strength.

As I looked in the faces of men I respect today, my heart broke for those who don’t have one person in their life who models the heart of a kind, strong, and generous Father.   My heart cries for multiplication of more than just a few good men.

Our Father:  “The Lord, The Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”   Exodus 34:6-8