I was in the dingy basement, bent over the dryer, wrestling with a mess of clean clothes. My mood matched the ineffectiveness of the lone light bulb ill-positioned on the wrong side of the heating duct. Laundry, like “This is the song that never ends,” is just annoying and pointless. Condemning prisoners of war to meaningless, endless work – dig a ditch, fill it in, ad nauseam, has been shown to successfully destroy hope. Is it any wonder, then, that moms (or those responsible for dishes and laundry) often feel like we’re going to lose it!
Life’s too short for laundry. Maybe I could invent disposable clothes – kinda like paper plates, except cuter. I’d seen duct tape dresses on Pinterest…maybe I was on to something. Or maybe I just needed a heart adjustment. Oh. That.
The twinges of guilt were an indication something needed to be serviced, but nothing was getting fixed. So I prayed. But let me clarify: this was angry, complaining, completely honest kind of prayer.
Did anyone ever tell you that it’s ok to be honest with God? I wish I had known that sooner. That seems like it should be obvious (after all, he knows everything I’m thinking anyway – why not talk to him about it?), but it was a revelation to me when I first practiced this kind of gut-honest prayer and watched real changes begin.
Warning: If you like sweet, tidy, nice-sounding prayers, don’t try it.
My prayers are often anything but. I joke with my mom that I didn’t start swearing until I became a Christian. Let me hasten to say, I’m not condoning swearing! Not at all. What I do mean is that when we come to the place that we feel safe enough with God to let him into our ugliest places, (which he already knows about), and give him what was already inside our hearts, then he will work with and change those parts. Our sin is never excusable. But praise to God, it is always forgivable!
Sometimes what is right doesn’t look right. This process of honest change may appear on the outside to get worse before it gets better. Not unlike organizing and deep cleaning our homes.
If I were to wait until I was sure no swear words would leak and all my emotions were under control, I’d never pray! And I’d stay a mess because I’d never give the One who is able to change me, access to the parts that most need changed. As it is, God can handle us in whatever condition we’re in. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) And that’s just the starting point! If God was so moved from love to die for his enemies, how do we think he might respond to those who desire to be his friends? “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)
As I grumbled my way upstairs, carrying clean laundry, God was doing the laundry of my heart and it was as if he carried me upstairs…or my attitude anyway; he exchanged my complaint for a song! Funny how I’d wanted to write music, tried and failed, but when God wants something to happen it can be done in the time it takes to climb one flight of stairs and fold one load of laundry!
More than that, I began (emphasis on began) to view laundry differently as a result of that incident nine years ago. Instead of empty drudgery, I saw I had the ability to bring order to a small piece of chaos. Something God does tirelessly for me on a whole different level. I also started to see that the way I worked at tasks that I don’t enjoy could be my way of expressing gratitude for the ways that God provides for me.
May God’s goodness and endless love to you give you courage to get gut-honest with Him so you can watch Him cause real change and lift you up.
Lift Me Up
Lift me up above my feelings
Lift me up above my moods
Lift me up above my circumstances
Lift me up, up, and away with You
Lift me up above my self
Lift me up above my poor, wretched soul
Lift me up higher than I could ever reach
Lift me up so I can fall to my knees
And lift You up, the lifter of my head
And lift You up, the lifter of my countenance
And lift You up, the lifter of my soul
You breathe new life, You raise the dead, You lift me up!