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Lessons I Learned From My Dirty Laundry

“We will never feel loved until we drop the act, until we’re willing to show our true selves to the people around us.” – Donald Miller, Scary Close

Big and Buried Burdens

Our burdens are big. Overwhelming, and almost too much to bear at times. And yet, when people ask us how we’re doing, we are always…”great!“.

We do whatever we can to cover up depression, anxiety, fear and habitual sin like a pimple on prom day. Our husband’s character flaws, our children’s bad behavior and our parent’s dysfunction can never ever be found out. And, don’t even think about answering the door to a friend if you’re in your old bleach stained pregnancy yoga pants. This is how we do life – covered up and closed off.

 

The Highlight Reel Ain’t Real

This epidemic of keeping our burdens buried is at an all time high because of… you guessed it –social media. I am convinced. We are in each other’s lives virtually more than ever, but not actually in them for real. And that’s because what we’re seeing on social media isn’t fully real and so it causes our real, weighed down selves to retract. More than ever, we feel that our problems are out of the ordinary, because we aren’t hearing about other’s real life problems – we’re only seeing snippets of their successes. We conclude that we must be the freaks who can’t keep it together. So, we don’t dare admit that our days aren’t sugar and spice and everything nice. Let me remind you of this, and I’ll repeat it until I’m blue in the face: the highlight reel ain’t real.

 

Dare to Share 

Rather than touting our successes on social media, Galations 6:2 tells us to share our burdens with one another. Bragging and boasting may impress a few, but will keep most others at bay. But, sharing our struggles and baring our real selves always promotes unity. In Scary Close, Donald Miller sets things straight: “It’s true people are attracted to intelligence and strength and even money, but attraction insn’t intimacy. What attracts us doesn’t always connect us.

So, the question I pose to you is, would you rather be envied, or truly loved? Do you need admiration or intimacy? Will you save face, or be unguarded; face to face?

There’s something relieving and refreshing when someone else says “me too” – it forms instant connection; a greater intimacy. And that’s worlds better than a bunch of “oohs and ahhhs”. In order to hear “me too”, we must first be willing to divulge. I’m not talking about letting it all hang out on social media – no one wants that. Virtual rubbernecking only leads to emotional fallout. We simply need to be more willing to be vulnerable and real with one another. It means we need to take our defenses down, and be willing to “air our dirty laundry”…

 

Air Your Dirty Laundry

Baseball season is always busy. And, this year my eldest will be playing in two leagues. Many days and nights we will be at the diamond, on top of all the other chaos that the end of the school year brings. We absolutely love cheering Keaton on, but I tell ya, making sure his dirty, stanky (yes, I said stanky) uniform is clean several times a week isn’t exactly on the top of my to do list. Sometimes chores literally get shoved to the bottom of the pile. His uniform was one of them.

One hectic Tuesday night, as we rushed around to shove food into our mouth and gather his equipment, I realized I had failed to wash his uniform. I found it in a damp, wrinkled heap under a few wet towels in the laundry room. I quickly whipped it in the dryer, in hopes that I could freshen it up and no one would be the wiser. It would have to do. I proceeded to hand the uniform to an annoyed 8 year old, who reminded me that major league players didn’t go on the field with a dirty, wrinkled uniform, and neither should he. This was the only time he’d ever cared an iota about having clean clothes. We proceeded to the game as I inhaled and sighed out a big breath of frustration.

As the game began, I casually chit chatted with the other moms, pretending like I wasn’t stressed and feeling like a failure. Out of the glorious nowhere, it seemed, I heard my friend Cindy begin to confess that it had been a busy day…and guess what – she had pulled her son’s uniform directly out of the hamper for the game. She had “failed” too. As my mouth dropped in disbelief and my eyes bugged out of my head, the seemingly calm cool and collected lady to my left became a bit unraveled and piped up “me too!”. I chimed in with “You’re kidding! Me too!” We all laughed and, in the words of my five year old, felt a “trillion, million, dillion, ba-jillion” times better.

This woman’s confession miraculously turned my sigh of frustration and defeat into one of relief. I imagine it was the same for the other mom as well. Airing our “dirty laundry” to each other instantaneously connected us and we went from feeling like a solitary failure to bonding and banding together.

This is what baring and sharing does.

You see, we become much more fused together when we bravely share our burdens. Whatever type of “dirty laundry” we hide, I promise you that there’s also a pile that your neighbor is trying to conceal. She has disappointments and deficiencies, inadequacies and areas she feels insufficient too. The circumstances aren’t as rosy as they seem. There is a weight on her shoulders that you can help heave off of her. And, she can rescue you too – but only when you’re willing to share your burdens. This might mean that she may catch a whiff of that dirty laundry. I promise you though, that the sweet aroma of true, authentic friendship overpowers the stench we feel we need to mask.

 

Lighten her Load

I have rarely seen a stronger force than when a group of people unite over a struggle. As we air that dirty laundry of ours, we unite beautifully. When we walk through turmoil, besides prayer, there is nothing more powerful and transformative than a “support group”. I have personally benefitted from others coming along side me to lighten my load during a time of hardship. I know I am not the only one.

If your child is on the Autism spectrum and is acting out in school, there’s no better comfort in knowing that someone else is out there identifying with and living with the same frustrations. This knowledge helps us cope. If you are walking through the evils of cancer, and a band of women who unite to schedule a meal plan and come scrub your bathroom floors – this load off your shoulders can literally be life saving. When your husband walks out the door, and your girlfriends pick you up off the floor –  they offer a dark season a glimmer of hope. The same goes for every struggle. If we can share it; we can get through it much easier together. Community is cardinal and crucial.

 

Obey the Law of Christ

It is hard to believe that it is good to reveal our flaws and share our problems, but it is true. Airing that dirty laundry and lightening the load are beneficial to us because we allow others the opportunity to encourage and build us up. But, we also give them the chance to help us become more like Christ. When we mask our imperfections, we also cover our sin. But when we show others who we really truly are – taking off the mask and getting scary close – our weaknesses are revealed.

Believe me or not, this is a good thing. God tells us to confess our sin – not conceal it. When we open up to others, they are given the chance to empathize and encourage, but also help us course correct and change our ways for our good and the good of those around us.

I believe this is one reason that Galatians 6:2 tells us that when we share our burdens, we are fulfilling the law of Christ, which is the law of love to one another ( John 13:34 John 13:35 ). Let me tell you – love comes in many forms. Those who love us will carry us in times of trouble but they will also challenge us with truth bombs on occasion and keep us accountable by keeping close – scary close. What great news this is! And this is why – I have always found that when I “obey the law of Christ” – share my burdens and confess my sin, the result is that my burdens are always much fewer.

So, I dare you to bare. Bare it all to your trusted ones. Allow them to know all of you. The real you – even the “stinky socks” parts of your lives. You will obey Christ and your burdens will be lifted.

 

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”  Galations 6:2

 

 

 

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