I wouldn’t have believed it 15 years ago, but there is great freedom in airing your dirty laundry.
I grew up in a very small farming community and most of my extended family lived within a few miles of each other. To make my world even smaller, we all attended the same small church that my family had been attending for 80 years. We lived together, worshipped together, picked corn and peanuts together, and celebrated every holiday together. We ate fried chicken and banana sandwiches on Sunday evenings. We truly did life together.
I have seen my fair share of relatives’ freshly washed underwear on their clotheslines, but I have only been privy to their “dirty laundry” the few times I was lucky enough to hear my mom answer the phone to an urgent “unspoken” prayer request. An “unspoken” prayer request meant that somebody had gotten their pants dirty, but didn’t want to shame their family by sharing the details. The only prayer requests that were ever shared had to do with a visit to the hospital, or a sin that was committed by a person very far removed from the person actually asking for prayer.
We loved each other based on what we knew about each other, but we really didn’t know each other. We carried each others’ burdens of home making and child rearing, but we did not carry each others’ heart burdens. We missed true community.
Last night, I had the gift of true community with someone 1200 miles away. This friend gave me the freedom to air my dirty laundry and she helped me to acknowledge the God who gives the grace to wash out my stains. She initiated this time of confession by first opening her own laundry basket and hanging it up for me to see. She gave me permission to be really honest about the condition of my heart, by baring her’s first. Her brokeness opened the door for my own healing.
As we seek to create authentic community here in Rocky Mount, I pray that Thad and I are always quick to open our own laundry baskets.
This week, as you spend time in community, risk a little pride, and air your dirty laundry to someone you sense needs permission to air their own. Your brokeness may be the tool that the Lord uses to begin the healing in another. True community is worth momentary humility.