Why my Laundry Habits Don’t Affect my Soul

I guess it’s about time I started posting here again. I took a break when school ended, but it’s now been more than a month. I don’t think it’s a good idea to break that long for a new blog…but oh well. The past month has been a mix between crazy hectic and as boring as watching grass grow (which isn’t even happening right now in this terrible winter time). I will not go into all the details of the holiday season, except to say that it was totally different from any I’ve had before, and probably from any I’ll have again. I had to prepare myself for more than a month for not being with family on Christmas Day, but then I got to enjoy family for two whole weeks after Christmas. All in all it’s been a great month, and it’s difficult to get back to the daily grind of being here in Wake Forest.

I thought of something to write about in church today. I felt kind of bad taking notes on something other than the sermon, but I didn’t want to let the thought slip away.

During the Noble Wife bible study that my friend and I started a few months ago, we’ve recently been talking about how we feel bad because we are always leaving the laundry in the dryer for at least a day or two, because we just hate folding and putting it away. We were happily surprised to learn that we both struggled with this. After polling 5 or 6 other wives, we’ve learned that all of them struggle with it too! When I spoke to my mom about this phenomenon (which, by personal experience, I knew she was no stranger to), she made the comment that it is not sinful to have laundry backed up, or a ‘not quite perfect’ house as far as cleaning and straightness goes. My friend and I also talked to another lady that comes to our bible study, and she told us about how she used to never match up socks. She would just put all the socks in a basket, and when she or her husband or kids needed a pair, they’d go to the basket and match their own up. Both she and my mom helped me realize that not having everything in the house in perfect order all the time is not something to feel guilty about, and not necessarily even something to strive for. Trying not to be lazy is one thing…trying to be perfect is a total different story. What a relief!!

Elizabeth Elliot wrote, “”The beauty of thy peace” shines forth in an ordered life. A disordered life speaks loudly of disorder in the soul.” When I first read this, I assumed it applied to my laundry dilemma…my disordered laundry area meant my soul was also disordered!! After talking to the godly, older, wiser women in my life, I realized that an “ordered life” means much more than just the physical order of the house. Maybe a better word than “ordered” would have been “balanced”. Balance seems to be the key to so many things, and this is no exception. If a house is in such disarray that it’s barely livable and makes guests feel uncomfortable, then perhaps something does need to change. But the opposite can also be true…a house can be so perfectly clean, neat, and organized, it also doesn’t feel livable and can make guests uncomfortable.

I guess if I had to describe a livable and hospitable house, or in other words, a home, it would look something like this: There’s always a game piece or two tucked between the couch cushions; there’s a stain on the carpet from the time the family had a ‘picnic’ in the living room; there’s always sheet music left out on the piano; a pile of shoes greets you at the front door; the clean dishes sometimes have a piece of food stuck to them because the kids were in a rush to finish so they could start playing again; there are more pictures of people on the walls and shelves than of scenery or copies of someone else’s work; the smell when you enter can never quite be defined except as ‘that families’ smell.

Of course, this description probably varies depending on who you talk to. And I think it’s important that husband and wife compromise, especially if they are on opposite ends of the ‘neatness’ spectrum. But I think that most ‘ordered souls’ happen to be that way because the life that’s lived, and the place it’s lived in, are where families are spending time with each other, loving each other above themselves, and loving God above all.

Sometimes, an excellent wife will have laundry in the dryer for 3 days before putting it away. And that’s ok…her soul can still be at peace.