I had been folding laundry for days.
We had just returned from taking the boys camping this summer, and I was exhausted. Because of the burn ban (when is the last time you remember not being able to have a campfire in Washington state? Really?), we changed reservations at the last-minute and headed to the Oregon coast. We set up and took down three sites in a matter of eight days. Yes, you read that right. I should have known it would be a hard week when we were pulling out of the driveway, and this was all the kids could muster:
And even though there was a burn ban on, even though I already wanted to go home early, even though the Pacific Northwest is in the middle of a drought, it rained while we were camping at the beach. Yes, in this streak of scorched earth, drought, and burn bans we Seattleites have no clue what to do with? The rain did find us at the beach.
Everything: every pillow, sleeping bag, and piece of clothing we had packed needed to be washed.
With my medium-sized washing machine, that took four days. I’m still folding.
We did have some fun. We walked with the kids as they rode their bikes, spent time at the beach, climbed trees, and went on rides. There were campfires and even some really good dinners.
I came home so tired I could barely speak, and the laundry just seemed to be a dirty joke. Literally. So dirty.
But, last night, as the boys were moaning about carrying more clothes and pillows up the stairs, as I felt that I would drown in my family’s laundry once and for all, a tiny realization caught a hold of me.
I kept tearing up at this stack of new clothes that arrived in the mail while we were gone, that I had washed clean and folded for the school year.
Do you know what is so amazing about this stack of clothes?
Do you know what made my heart swell and my eyes brim?
This simple thought:
I bought these clothes a size too big because I know he’ll grow into them.
As I folded that little stack of new slacks and polos, I marveled at my audacity and certainty. I marvelled at my own HOPE.
Hope from this mother whose first baby was lost because he didn’t grow.
This mother who crammed protein smoothies and ding dongs down her throat (the good fats and the bad, right?) during her second pregnancy to ensure this baby would grow.
This mother who pumped every bottle full of breast milk her heart baby drank, just to fill it with a serving of formula, to make sure he would grow.
This mother who has laced every ounce of home-made, antibiotic- and hormone-free food she’s fed her children with organic butter and olive oil to help them grow.
This mother who sat in her car after well baby check-ups and cried year after year because her babies were always at the bottom of the growth chart, no matter how she tried to make them grow.
Now, that mother buys clothes a half-size up BECAUSE SHE’S SURE THEY’LL GROW.
Now, that mother swims in laundry and legos and teaches little boys how to fold laundry and put it away.
That monstrous fear, this nagging itch at the back of my heart has slowly given way to certain hope.
Where did that hope come from, Lord? that certainty that used to be so fear-haunted, so timid, so human and frail?
I am beginning to understand Paul’s words in Romans 5:3-5:
. . . We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
God’s love has been poured out into our hearts. His love. And through our struggles, our dark days when we don’t possibly see how olive oil-infused, homemade, organic food can be any kind of weapon against our deepest, darkest fears, we persevere.
Whatever little perseverance you can manage to drum up today, He will use it.
And He will pour, pour, pour more into you.
Friends, we are all scarred by life’s heart breaks. We all have wounds that masquerade as fears.
Here is the truth you can take home today:
Hope can be born in the midst of this very moment’s struggle.
In Him, through Him, your suffering can be transformed and become perseverance and become character and BECOME HOPE.
What hopeful act can you muster today in the face of your fears?
How can the Holy Spirit pour into you today?
What is the fear, pain, or struggle tripping you up today that will be your stack of laundry, your audacious hope tomorrow?
Thank you, Lord, for that little stack of hope.
Thank you for pouring your love right into us.
And thank you for helping me survive all of that laundry.