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3 Life Lessons from the Bottom of the Laundry Basket

Why is it that the laundry basket seems to operate in the same way as Mary Poppins’ handbag? There is just no end.

As a mom of three, I know my way around a laundry basket. Our little family of five seems to produce enough dirty clothes to outfit a small village. It certainly is one of those chores that I am happy to procrastinate if given the opportunity.

This week as I rewashed a load that had been forgotten in the washer and collected a seemingly endless amount of errant dirty socks around my home, I began to notice some parallels between laundry and life.

I believe that God can speak to us through any circumstance, even our mundane household routine. So I listened, and I looked.

None of this is earth shattering, but hopefully some of these simple truths will speak to you today.

Here is what I saw.

  1. Less is more.

This isn’t rocket science here, but the truth is that the more you have, the more you have to wash. I guess you could call me an aspiring minimalist. A Marie Kondo wannabe groupie, if you will. But we just have So. Many. Clothes.

I’m convinced that our kids clothes multiply when I put them in the wash because they never fit back in their drawers the same. If there’s one thing that our abundance of apparel has taught me is that it is so much easier, so much simpler, so much more enjoyable when we are not drowning in our stuff.

I’m making it my mission before the end of this year to purge our clothes – for the sake of our laundry and my sanity. The goal is this: if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t “spark joy” (thanks Marie!) and it serves no other purpose, then it goes. For my kids: if it doesn’t fit or they don’t prefer it – it goes. (They’d be happy to wear the same thing everyday anyway.)

It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting more, but we will never be satisfied by material things. In fact, more often than not it is just the opposite. It drains us. We have to wash the clothes. We have to sort the toys. We have to find the space in our life for it all and it’s exhausting.

Our spiritual life is the same.

If we keep adding things to our lives that we don’t need, there won’t be any space for what matters most. We need to stop spending our days tripping over emotional laundry baskets and spend time on that which brings true fulfillment.

2. Men are simple. Women are complicated.

Have you ever noticed that folding men’s clothes can take a fraction of the time that folding women’s clothes can? In laundry, as in life, they are simple and straightforward. T-shirts, pants, dress shirts, nothing very complicated.

My husband has given up trying to fold my clothes because they are so much trickier. There are leggings and various styles of pants. My tops range from long sweater and short sweaters and cardigans to t-shirts and tank tops and blouses.

Doesn’t that so perfectly reflect most men and women?

Men are straightforward. Rarely are they thinking fifteen steps ahead or mentally calculating the text and subtext and sub-subtext of a situation. A train leaves the station on a straight clear track to its final destination.

A woman’s brain is more comparable to the intricate highways of downtown Toronto. Countless cars are travelling in every direction at once.

This is, of course, a gross oversimplification of men and women; however, I think that there’s a simple truth that we can glean here. Men and women think and operate differently and so our best communication will come when we work hard to understand this.

As a woman, I have learned that the easiest way to ensure successful communication with my husband is to hop aboard that train. Say what you think. Say what you want. Forget passively dropping hints or expecting that he can read your signals.

You might be waiting a long time.

You’ll likely become frustrated.

You will find that in communication with just about everyone it works so much better to just walk through the front door.

Differences are a gift from God. We will be better people if we embrace that instead of getting frustrated that someone doesn’t process the world the way we do.

Try this: take into consideration the other person’s intentions before you judge their actions. And the reverse: hold yourself accountable by your actions and not by your intentions.

3. There is not one right way to do it.

When we first got married, my husband and I had several discussions about the way that our laundry was to be done. Were socks to be rolled or folded? Were t-shirts folded in half or in thirds?

As a strong enneagram type 1 (a perfectionist), I spent a good portion of my life believing that my way was the best way. But here’s the reality – not everyone folds clothes exactly the same as I do. That doesn’t mean that they are wrong, or that I am.

At the end of the day, the goal is the same. In this case, it’s to get the laundry finished.

Remember that more often than not the minute differences, like how we fold our laundry or which side of the sink is wash and which is dry, don’t really matter. The end justifies the means. If my mom wants to come over and fold all my laundry, I’m going to be elated whether she folds the same and me or not.

Your perception of the world is shaped by the way that you were raised, by your personal preference, and by your life experiences. This isn’t going to be the same for everyone, nor should it be. It would be arrogant and self-centered to assume that ours is the only right way.

In light of our difference, we should show others grace. Grace is simply this – a love and mercy that we offer simply ‘because’ not because someone has done anything to earn it. This applies to the little things as much as the big.

More, now than ever before, we should be viewing differences with acceptance, grace, and a genuine curiosity.

If any of this resonates with you, I would love to hear it. Leave a note in the comments below. Because, I mean, writing is way more fun than folding clothes, right?

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