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Humor Me, Lord

It All Comes Out in the Wash

By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer


CBN.comAs the saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Well, it only took a couple of days for me to realize what I had been missing.

Having waited till mid-week to do laundry, I was disappointed to discover that the washing machine had decided to retire early. At least it didn’t go out with a bang or up in flames. And I didn’t have to suffer with a whole load of tie-dyed underwear. The machine simply decided to stop in the middle of a wash cycle.

Thus began a three-week trial. I could either do all my clothes in the bathtub – which conjured up images of those hefty women of yore back in their villages scrubbing their clothes on the rocks by the river bank for hours on end – or I could truck laundry around town to any and every available laundry facility and spend maybe two hours out of my day. I am sure you can guess which option I chose.

Week one began with getting the secret password to a college laundry facility, a fairly easy task. (Man, I love being a journalist with friends!) I just prayed no one would ask me questions about school, and I hoped that I at least still looked and acted like a student. I did come in with reading material and sweats, after all. What more could they want?

Then I got the “brilliant” idea of calling my local church secretary to see if anyone was giving away an old washer. To be fair, I think my roommate originally suggested it, but hey, I would be the one doing the legwork. Apparently, someone was giving away a washer AND a dryer. Call quickly if you want it. I hung up the phone and dialed the cell of this construction worker who attended my church. “Sorry,” he told me, “I just gave them away.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I mean, that washer and dryer were supposed to be mine! And now they had been greedily taken away – by some well-meaning, “needy” family, no doubt. Whatever.

Plan B was to put an e-mail message out to my CBN colleagues. Surely someone in this large pool of employees would have a generous spirit and be willing to give away their ‘gently used’ washer. Working for a non-profit, I figured I was a shoe-in for some humanitarian aid.

But after about a week and a half with no working washer and no other options, I was staring down my next outing and not relishing the notion of returning to dorm duty to keep my apparel Downy clean.

So I brought the whole laundry situation up at my daily producer meeting at work and hoped that my problem would be considered a valid prayer request. Several coworkers told me that I should consider asking my friends. But I reasoned that I didn’t want to interfere in their evening plans. Some of my friends had families and small children or very active lives like me. The more I talked, the more I started feeling sorry for myself.

That’s when I got tagged with a random act of kindness. Feeling pity for my plight, another coworker told me brightly, “I will do your laundry.” I thought she was kidding at first. I actually kind of felt weird telling her, “Uh, well, I usually do most of my clothes on cold and on the delicate cycle, except towels, of course. Those go on hot.” Hello? I did not just hear myself giving directions like I am some Hollywood star who just sent out her laundry for express service!

By the end of that week, in the dark of night, I handed over my laundry basket full of dirty clothes to my coworker’s awaiting car. I felt like I was in the middle of a CIA trick – you know, the kind where you give up a locked suitcase of cash for some enemy plot. Then I drove home, feeling a bit guilty for being elated that I was off the hook this weekend. Yeah, baby!

As promised, most of my laundry was clean and ready for pickup that following Monday and even neatly folded. The rest trickled in the next couple of days. Several days of repeated profuse thank-yous and my coworker turned a bit bashful. OK, maybe my emotive response was a bit over the top, but I really was thankful!

In the meantime, the old washer sat still in the garage. I really need to call that repairman, I told myself. So I did, and I was proud to tell my roommate that evening that he was going to stop by the next day. For about $35, he would diagnose the problem. It would probably cost less than $100 to fix it.

Now, I know what some of you renters are thinking: Why don’t you talk to your landlady? Shouldn’t she fix that kind of thing? Normally, I would agree with you, but you don’t ask someone who can be emotionally volatile only weeks before a major family holiday that you have some house repair. She could raise the rent. Believe me, it has happened before.

Anyway, at the end of the evening, my roommate surprised me by asking, “Can we wait a few more days before we get the repairman over? I have informed my circle at church about the situation and I am waiting to see what God is going to do.” I was kind of flabbergasted. I mean, I was ready to have this sucker fixed! While she did her laundry at her best friend’s house in ease, I was scratching my head for a new plan. But I didn’t want to seem like I lacked faith – which I obviously did – so I said cheerily, “Sure,” and then somewhat begrudgingly called Mr. Repairman back to cancel.

I think I had given up on the idea that a washer was forthcoming because I found myself starting to do laundry in the bathtub. No one told me I had to do it that way. I just sighed and snuck in a small load into the bathroom. No riverbank and no scrubbing rocks, but I was still violently agitating those waters to keep some bigger items sparkly clean and trying not to get myself soaking wet. It was tiring, and I started thinking just how arthritic the ladies of yesteryear must have been slapping heavy, wet laundry in and out of freezing-cold streams. A bit rheumatic, I’ll bet!

I am not doing that again, I mused. My next option: just let the dirty clothes pile up. I think I even considered buying more socks to get me through. Man, I am starting to live like a college bachelor. What’s next? Eating beanie-weenies out of the can?

My boss wondered if I was getting down to the bottom of my pile of clean clothes yet. I don’t know if I should be ashamed to admit this, but that would hardly happen with all the clothes I have hanging in my closet. I actually found items I hadn’t worn in months, maybe even years, and got some nice compliments. All the while, the dirty pile was getting higher.

Then the miracle day came. I stopped thinking about my laundry and I stopped bringing up my prayer request in my daily meeting – which I am sure everyone here appreciated – when my roommate e-mailed me with the astounding news. Apparently, her boss was remodeling and wanted to get rid of a washer and dryer. Not knowing my roommate’s and my situation, he asked sort of out of the blue if she wanted the washer/dryer set. And get this: He wasn’t selling the items; he was giving them away for free. He refused to take any money. My roomie was ecstatic – and so was I.

Two days later, we got the gleaming white machine installed, courtesy of a brawny church leader, with the dryer on backup if we needed it. This all happened just a few short days before me and my roommate were scheduled to go out of town.

So what’s the point of me telling you this? Well, besides giving you a good, hearty laugh, it’s a reminder to all of us to not take the small things for granted. Be thankful for what you have, and when you don’t have those little conveniences in life, don’t be too proud to ask for help. Honestly, I was. Looking back, I should have relied more on my friends and not felt embarrassed by my lack. That’s what the community of God is for after all, isn’t it?

We should also always remember that God cares about the dumbest prayer request. House repair prayers are just as valid. If He counts the hairs on our heads and numbers the grains of sand on the beach, He is completely aware of appliances breaking down at home.

And above all things, know that God has a much better answer for you than you can fathom if you will let Him do it in His timing.

I am learning not to fret so much about those nagging irritations. I hope you will, too. Remember, it all comes out in the wash anyway.

Comments? E-mail me.

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