My First Crayon in the Dryer

This post is written by Barbara Bender.

Growing up, I learned a very time-consuming, meticulous way to do laundry. It is the definition of perfection. The right way to do laundry. Clothes do not shrink, fade, or wrinkle when you do laundry this way.

Around child number three, however, I realized if I continued to do laundry the perfect way, I would never have any laundry done. So I started using the dryer like everyone else in the world. I joined the thousands of mothers who sell 5T pajamas at their garage sales, knowing they actually now fit a one-year-old. Now that I use my dryer so faithfully, I am an avid pocket checker. Occasionally I miss a paper towel or one of my husband’s foam ear plugs, but I’ve never missed a crayon . . . until today.

It was just before lunch-time, and I quickly ran downstairs to grab some laundry out of the dryer and hang it up before it wrinkled (I still haven’t overcome some of those perfectionistic tendencies). I opened the door and found . . . everything covered in blue! What happened?!?!

Khaki pants, my favorite salmon-colored shirt, Meika’s favorite pink sweater . . . of course, it was the load of favorites and other light-colored dress clothes. Immediately I spotted the crayon at the front of the dryer, still intact, but soft and squishy. As I went through the clothes, grabbing things at the back of the dryer and hoping they were still clean, I found that nearly everything was covered in blue crayon.

I didn’t really know what to do, but I just started in with my bottle of Shout, one item of clothing at a time. As I was scrubbing, I was thinking things like, “It’s okay, stay calm,” “You’ll get through this,” “Should I just throw these clothes away?” “Why did this have to happen?” . . . and then it hit me.

That crayon is just like my sin. Sin leaves nothing and no one in my life untouched. Even those clothes at the back of the dryer, far away from the crayon were covered with blue stains. While my sin has been forgiven by God, I am still living with the effects of those sins, as well as the sins of my parents and grandparents. And just like I am affected by the sins of others, my children are daily being affected by my sin, especially my anger.

Every mom has felt that anger rise up when a direction has been ignored or a clearly spelled-out rule has been disobeyed. Every mom has been frustrated by fighting, foolishness, and fussiness. But as I found myself having to take a child onto my lap nearly every day to apologize for once again losing my temper and yelling about one thing or another, I realized that something needed to change. I saw their sad faces, and I heard Meika Joy’s pleas, “Mommy, please don’t ever yell at us again.” And I tried. I tried to stop yelling.

I read articles about thinking ahead and realizing when you are likely to get angry and praying about those times first thing each day (a very good thing to do). I put myself in time-outs when I would start to feel upset. The children thought that was funny, but it still didn’t fix the real problem. I was failing and asking my children’s forgiveness over and over again. I started to wonder what happened to me. I was never an angry person . . . until I had four children in just over four years.

To make this already long story not quite so long, I decided to start seeing a counselor. Through her guidance, I am seeing that my anger has always been there but until faced with caring for four young children, I have been able to keep it concealed. And the anger is not just something I can easily remove from my life. It is there as a symptom of the idols I have set up to protect myself from the shame of not being able to measure up to my perceived standard.

My specific idols of control and affirmation from others are being knocked down by my children, and my response to that is anger. I am grappling for control, but it is escaping my grip. I do not like it. It feels scary. But it is where God has brought me in my life because He loves me. He wants to be in control of my life. He wants me to know that He loves me no matter how I perform as a mother. (Even as I write this, I am just beginning to grasp this.)

God doesn’t want me walking around with the blue stain of anger all over my favorite salmon-colored shirt. He wants to scrub it out and make me clean. God has already removed the crayon from the dryer. He bore my sin on the cross, and I am forgiven. But I am still a sinner. I still have blue smudges and marks all over my life that He is scrubbing out one day at a time. That is the process of sanctification, and it is a life-long process.

Coming to Jesus is simple; some people argue that it is too easy. Acts 16:31 says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Taking that crayon out of the dryer was easy, too. But scrubbing out the stains was not. One hour later, I was finished. My bottle of Shout was empty and the skin was rubbed off of my knuckles. I was hungry, and my back was aching. Sanctification is not easy. Surrender is not easy. Letting God scrub us clean hurts. It is not easy for us, and it was not easy for Him.

Jesus died for our salvation, which is complete when we receive that free gift (Eph. 2:8). But he also died for our sanctification, which is a life-long process of becoming more like Him (Rom. 8:29–30). Going to a counselor and re-opening wounds from the past has not been easy. But I have not been saved and then left to live my life wearing clothes covered in blue crayon. I want my clothes to be clean, and only God can clean them perfectly.

Did you discover God’s Truth today?

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