Two simple words that hold such weight and meaning behind them.
some names have been omitted in this post
I heard the ping of the stainless steel toaster and knew that meant my Eggo waffles were now crispy and hot, ready to eat. I snatched them up and placed them on a white plate and reached for the Aunt Jemima syrup. Still in gray plaid pajama pants and a charcoal gray sleep shirt, since I had some down time before heading out for the day, I padded barefoot to the mahogany kitchen table with my plate.
The laptop computer on the nearby granite countertop was opened to Facebook and my glance took quick note that the message icon was lit up with a red notification showing I had a new message in my inbox along with a new friend request. Immediately the usual ambivalent feelings stirred in me upon seeing I had a friend request and wondering whom it could be. Just seeing that red icon lit gave me gnawing trepidation. Someone from my past was reaching out. That past that often seemed like it belonged to someone else because so much time had passed… other times like it was yesterday but was still mine nonetheless. But who was it?
Part of me wanted nothing more than to just swiftly shut the laptop and go about my day…back to my breakfast that was waiting for me, errands and the signs of spring outside. It had been a very mild winter and the outside world had begun to prematurely explode with spring colors and temperatures in the sixties. Tiny green buds were about to bloom into delicate white fluffs on our bare crepe myrtles that would soon resemble snowy umbrellas. Pockets of yellow daffodils were in full bloom in our flowerbeds and it was only February. I was anxious to get on with my day and forget whatever was awaiting me in my inbox but curiosity overcame me. Pushing my feelings of dread aside I used my long nimble fingers to hover the cursor over the inbox icon then clicked. I had no idea what to expect next. Relief ensued, washing over me. It was a sweet friend from high school reaching out, wondering whatever had happened to me our junior year, as I had inexplicably disappeared. What came next was a flood of memories as I typed a response to her.
some names have been omitted or changed in this post
The next morning I realized Bao had never told his grandmother I was staying with him in their apartment. Yet it became quite clear she wasn't aware of my presence when she caught a glimpse of me in his bedroom through the cracked door. I listened as he spoke to her quietly in the early morning hours and cringed, instinctively knowing this wasn't going to end well. Seeing me, she pushed the door open with all of her tiny frame, knocking Bao slightly off balance as he tried to brace himself with the wielding wood door. An angry and pointed Vietnamese string of accusing words came hurling at me with a look of disgust and then a look of pained disappointment at Bao. I couldn’t focus well as my eyes were blurred from wearing my contacts to bed and having nothing to store them in left me with wearing them to sleep each night only to have them completely fogged over each morning with sleepy debris. Before I escaped to the bathroom to take them out and rinse them as best I could, I tried to pull a blanket around me as I sat on the mattress in Bao’s dark blue pajama pants and oversized t-shirt. Bao quickly tried to assuage her by gently taking her shoulder and explaining that nothing was going on, that we were merely friends and he was trying to help me because I was in a bind. I felt terribly bad for upsetting this older woman unnecessarily and especially after she had not only welcomed me into her home as a dinner guest but also unwittingly and unknowingly as a continual overnight one too. Bao shrank from his grandmother's rapid admonition and I realized this wasn’t going to work. He realized it too as I quickly fled to the bathroom to change back into my jeans and turtleneck. I hadn’t done anything with Bao, as we were just friends, yet I was acutely aware of his grandmother’s internal thoughts of me with her eyes pouring into my back. My face crimson from her stare, I glanced back to throw her one last genuinely apologetic look and she slammed the door shut in my face with a glare.
So often we walk around wounded with scars endured from past hurts and traumas that occurred in our past. We walk around with hurts so deep and past experiences so unbelievable that if ever dared uttered to anyone, people predictably gasp and say "I never would have guessed"… or "You don't fit the stereotype"… maybe even "You? No way…"
And yet, it was you. You may not fit the stereotype, you may not look the part, you may not fit the bill but that was you… it's your life, your story, your history and has undeniably contributed to who you are today. Any scars we bear no matter how deep, how inexplicably painful... we wear often hidden. We don't dare talk of rape, we don't dare talk of one night stands, or pre-marital sex, or maybe an abortion… we don't dare talk about our ugliest moments, our most heart wrenching times that brought us to our knees asking God for divine intervention because we have literally been faced with way more than we could ever handle…. we don't dare speak of the ugliness behind the marital bedroom door and the bruises endured by an abusive spouse… we don't dare show anyone weakness or internal pain because that would mean opening ourselves up for vulnerability, judgment and the wrath of people who love to hate those that speak truth and are beautifully honest even when life's moments are anything but those of beauty. We don't talk about why we aren't wearing our wedding ring even though everyone notices and those that care, even strangers pray for us… we don't talk about how we really aren't "fine" but were dying inside because were depressed and hanging on by a mere thread wondering how we will make it to the next day much less the next hour.
There is so much that we don't talk about when it comes to what were going through and where we've been. Because at the end of the day aren't we often worried about what people will say? Don't we all at some point worry that our story will be seen as "dirty" and (gasp) then we might be viewed as "dirty" too? We shudder to think of that happening and so we close off… we keep quiet… we cloak our face with a poker expression, we don't talk about it and instead kick it all under the rug like not-to-be-seen dirt clods.
Some people may say our story, our life experiences are comparable to "dirty laundry". I remember sitting in a cafe years ago with a group of women… one who had recently endured a terrible loss, a loss no woman ever wants to experience… a miscarriage. My heartstrings were pulled and I felt great sadness, empathy and pain for her. As empathetic concerns and condolences were shared in hushed tones with her one woman spoke "Why on earth didn't you say something? I care, I'm your friend." she stressed to her. Knowing her, I knew she was coming from a well intentioned place and was awed to see her transparent honesty with her friend. Yet the grieving mother seemed suddenly annoyed and snapped "I'm not going to post my dirty laundry all over!"
Her words stayed with me for a long time… and still linger with me today.... her miscarriage, her baby, her loss could never ever be compared to "dirty laundry"… it was out of her control… it wasn't her fault… it wasn't a wanted loss… and it certainly wasn't dirty. Naturally by all means it was her right to keep her loss private and only between close family and friends.
It's certainly everyone's right to keep their laundry in the basket and not let anyone see it…. but it's not dirty laundry in a closed hamper. The "dirt", the "guilt", the "shame" and the "ugly" has been bleached and removed.
No matter what we've been through by someone else's doing, what's happened by mere unfortunate circumstance or what we've experienced through our own sinful choices, our stumbles and fleshly errors… we can remember that we don't have to call our past "dirty laundry".
Because of Christ's love for us we have been cleansed.
Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
To My Readers:
Thank you for reading, commenting & sharing!
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