Airing Laundry: Living Fully Known
This post will be rooted in 1 Corinthians 13.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12 (BSB)
Does anyone actually enjoy folding laundry? I remember as a child my mom taught me how to fold laundry in the most scarring way. When she was first teaching me, she would give me all the washcloths, then I graduated to towels and shirts. Eventually, she would leave it to me to fold my own clothes…you know, teaching me valuable life lessons at an elementary age. But while I knew that lesson, I had a terrible habit of stuffing my clothes in my white dresser. I mean I would stuff the drawers so full that opening them was an act of God, and closing them meant shirts would fall behind the drawer into the abyss. One day my mom told me to clean my room, and in my own clever way, I continued to stuff the drawers more, this time so full that clothes were gutting out of the dresser. In my 7-year old brain, I thought I did it right, but in my mom’s much wiser brain, it was wrong. So wrong that she barged into my room, and with fire in her eyes she said, “I told you not to cram clothes into the drawers and I said, ‘If I see this one more time, I’m going to dump them onto the floor.'” With every fiber in her being, she slung my lily white drawers open and began grabbing handfuls of clothes. Keeping to her word, she emptied all six drawers in the middle of my floor. I sat stunned. As a kid, you never really think your parents will stick to their word on something so dramatic as “dumping your clothes in the middle of the floor” to teach you a lesson. So you continue to push the limits and do it anyway. But from that day on, I can never call my mom a liar.
When I think back on this time in my life, I never know whether to laugh or place a chip back on my shoulder. But I always remember the feeling of having most of my “folded” laundry in the middle of the floor. It was embarrassing, crushing and most of all, revealing. It showed all of my “hard” work wasn’t actually work at all, but just a jumbled mess of material shoved into seemingly perfect, white drawers.
Sparing the theological context, let’s look at 1 Corinthians 13:12 again:
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
I have to wonder after reading this passage and thinking back on those emotions I felt as a child – how many more white drawers have I stuffed with unfolded laundry? Laundry like addictions, anger, bitterness, jealousy, pride and worry. I know I just dropped a heavy bomb that you might not have seen coming, but it’s the truth. I’m the world’s worst at shoving laundry into drawers, and telling everyone how clean the rooms of my heart are. Not only is it a lie to live that way, but it’s unnecessary maintenance of expectations that never add up. We even go so far to pay for a cleaning service. We go for things that tell us they will help with our struggles, and listen to the world’s advice on how to make our hearts sparkling clean and acceptable. The problem with that mentality, is we only make things worse because we are really just pacifying our issues and coddling our emotions. The longer we stuff things down deeper, the more things get lost and abandoned in our hearts. As long as we keep doing our own laundry, we’ll always have overstuffed drawers with no way to clean them out.
But, you know the good news? Jesus is here ready to dump our laundry onto the floor. Maybe not with the same fire my mom had, but with similar intentions. He helps us clean up because He loves us too much to let us live with overstuffed expectations, pushed down struggles and hidden addictions. He doesn’t just dump it and leave it, either. He helps us clean it up out of mercy and because of His grace. When we bring our unfolded laundry to the cross, His blood washes us clean. He simply does what we cannot do by removing the junk that doesn’t belong, and He begins to neatly fold our pieces back together.
While Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 13 as a continuation of 1 Corinthians 12, when I come to the end of both passages, I’m reminded of the confidence I have in Christ. Let’s highlight it:
…even as I am fully known.
We all have laundry that needs to be aired out, but I’m unbelievably thankful He knows me fully and still wants to love me. I’ll go back to my mom for a second – I think she knew along that I wasn’t doing the right thing and moreover, I wasn’t doing my best. Out of her love (and a little built up frustration…HA!), she taught me a lesson that has stuck with me years later. Maybe it was extreme and that’s an extreme example, but at the time I didn’t understand how her dumping my clothes out was an act of love. Could you imagine if she never did teach me that simple lesson? My life would be a literal mess. She knew me too well at the moment to let me continue to live that way – in chaos and clutter. Christ knows the intimate workings of our soul. He formed us in a moment and knew everything about us in an instant. Do you honestly think you have too much piled up laundry that He can’t help you?
Friend, if you doubt any plan, struggle to see your future or simply need a reminder, look to the cross. It’s there that Jesus still went to die because of you and me. He knew before His journey on earth started, the weight of His mission. He had your name on His lips with every gasp of air, and He had you on His mind when He drew His final breath. When He rose from the grave, He did it to prove to us that not even death can stop Him. So again, do you honestly think your laundry scares Him? He knew how much we needed Him, and He still came to save us. We all need grace and we all need some soap because we’ve all got dirty laundry and cluttered drawers.
No matter where you are on your walk with Christ, He still wants your pile. When we come to the realization that we can be deeply flawed and deeply loved – at the same time – we can drop our expectations, clean our drawers and walk in the purpose He created us for. As Paul said, we partly know things about our life, but He fully knows. All He wants is our laundry so He can truly and immensely clean us up.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:4-10 (ESV)