My mother is a washer woman. She has done thousands of laundry loads in her lifetime. No, she was not formally hired by a cleaning business, but with a family of eight she accumulated rights to such a title. I recall in my early childhood days standing alongside my mother attending the wringer washing machine. My favorite part was watching her feed the clothing through the wringer that squeezed out the excess water. Then she heaved the basket of heavy towels on her hip and quickly walked out to the wash line to let them flap dry in the wind.
Eventually her laundering simplified when my father bought her a dryer and an automatic washer. However, some things never changed about her laundering habits. My mother’s fastidious laundry-sorting habits were influenced by her mother. My mother grew up in an era when most clothing articles could discolor a whole load, so each load was carefully and thoughtfully sorted. Thus, her proverbial line “Keep the whites with the whites,” has trailed me through the years. My confession: I have not always followed it religiously.
The other Friday morning, I groggily pulled the light-colored sheets from my bed and stuffed them into the washer that was filling with water for the “white” load. This particular morning, I happened to have two new, orange bread towels in the laundry basket. I already had done a darker load the evening before, so what option did I have? Shrugging off the niggling thought that they didn’t belong in this load, I threw the towels in too. I shut the lid, and sat on my couch for a spell.
An hour later, I opened the lid and groaned. The sheets and most anything else in the washer, whatever had been white, now had turned into a pale peach color. In that moment I experienced a life pause; slowly through my consciousness my mother’s old adage came floating back to me. “Keep the whites with the whites.” I found the two culprits which had swished around the agitator ruining my laundry. I lifted them out by their necks and swung them into the dryer. (I liked these bread towels well enough that I forgave them and dried them anyway.) But alas, the rest of the laundry load has gone through two bleach washings, and many of the articles still retain the ugly tell-tale signs of a prior peach washing.
Recently I pulled on a pair of pale peach socks and thought, Since it is Saturday, my attire doesn’t matter. That thought gave me another pause. Since when do bad habits not matter? How easy it is as a single woman to excuse my bad habits in the name of convenience. (Washing the orange towels seemed more convenient than waiting until a week later and washing them with a darker load.) Convenience often controls our long-term habits.
- It is more convenient to eat box or snack meals than to cook nutritiously for one.
- It is more convenient to stay late at work, so I can sleep late the next morning.
- It is more convenient to watch a movie than to dig into the Word of God.
- It is more convenient to skip church, so I can get adequate rest for the upcoming week.
- It is more convenient to call a friend when I am lonely than to seek God in my aloneness.
- It is more convenient to “yes” than to set boundaries.
Convenient excuses can easily turn into bad habits. Bad habits stain lives. The good news is that the righteousness of Jesus can cleanse us and free us from bad habits. When Jesus washes our hearts, they will not even have a hint of peach.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9