I never considered laundry to be much of a faith-stretching activity. I mean it’s not as if loading clothes into one machine, pushing buttons and later moving them to another machine is difficult.
Rote, boring and tedious in the folding/hanging stage? Sure. But the only faith needed is in the ability of the washer tub to stay balanced and in my ability to sort colors and materials correctly. Typically, I’m not challenged by laundry!
Until last week. Until that black Chipotle t-shirt, worn and wrinkled but neatly folded and placed on the dryer top, peeked around the fabric softener bottle. It seemed to scream, “My turn!”
It was the last one from the basket. Months ago I washed the jeans that remained shaped like his legs, the back of the knees wrinkled and the upper thighs creased. Evidence of wear. Evidence of a wearer. I remembered how the waistband hung low on his narrow hips, often causing him to walk away the denim that slipped under his heels. Seeing his laundry mingling in with ours made me feel…closer to him.
I heard the Lord say, “It’s ok. That’s not him anymore.”
I held the t-shirt up by the shoulders to examine it one last time, as I had countless times in the past three years and fourteen days. Then, as I always had, I covered my face with it and smelled the last remaining remnants of proof that my oldest child once existed in this physical form–that his DNA still existed in my everyday life. The breath I drew in this time seemed to go on forever. I held it in until dizziness forced an exhale. I knew it would be the last time I would ever smell what made Quinn uniquely “Q.” The very. Last. Time…in my whole life! And it deeply challenged my faith to let go.
“I’m trusting you, Lord! I’m trusting that you are holding him,” I cried out. I was trusting the prompting (I’d ignored for a long time) to let go of what was so I could fully embrace who, what and where my son is today.
My heart raced. I didn’t want to let it go. I wanted to hold onto the scent that brought back so many memories of warm hugs and playful laughter from the young man I brought into this world. I placed the tear-soaked shirt in the washer as cold water overtook the contents of the tub.
In one last, desperate attempt to hold on as long as possible, I plunged my hand into the washer and held the fabric as the water crept up past my wrist and the shirt was saturated. I knew the sweat and skin cells that left the scent of my son were dissolving, sliding over my skin and sinking in the water. Then I closed the lid.
I prayed as my faith was painfully stretched, “I’m trusting you, Lord! Now it’s gone forever! I can only look forward. Now there’s no looking back.”
“It’s ok,” He repeated. “That’s not him anymore.”
“2 Corinthians 5:17 ‘Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.’ “