It has been over 5 weeks since I have done a load of laundry at my house. It is a really long story filled with a long list of things that just didn't go right. The quickest version is - my dryer broke. We tried to get it fixed, but the parts are discontinued. We ordered a new one... waited a week, it was damaged. The next one was not in stock, so we had to wait 2 more weeks, this one came without the part needed to hook it up. The part we needed was delayed. Had to reschedule our appliance guy since we didn't have the part... but he was booked and unavailable for the next 6 days and currently no one can come hook our washer and dryer until Monday... but what's another few days when you've been waiting for over a month.
One thing for sure, this is clearly a first world problem. It is not lost on me how blessed I am... especially because during the last few weeks, I have had to remind myself over and over that there is way too much good in my life to be focused on the frustrating.
BUT, it has been frustrating...
BUT, I didn't come here to talk about the frustrating, I came here to reflect on the lessons I've learned during this rather annoying ordeal.
Some funny and some profound.
The first time I went to the laundromat, I had no idea what I was doing. I had to ask for help a few times. Then, I accidentally put my wet load back into what I thought was a dryer, but it was actually a washing machine. It immediately locked and began filling up - soaking my already clean clothes. I didn't know what to do so I just let the whole thing run again. There was only one other man in the laundromat and he was an older man who was not very friendly. But I could not stop laughing and I felt like I had to explain to him why I was laughing so hard. In hindsight I didn't have to. He could barely understand what I was saying, because I was laughing so hard. His dry response, "Well those clothes are going to be extra clean."
I've also been super careful not let anyone see my underwear. I do not know why I find that so embarrassing but I really do. So I transfer those pieces very quickly. One day, after I was gathering everything up to load into my car. I noticed that a pair of my underwear had just been laying in the middle of the floor the entire time I was folding my clothes... on display for all to see. You've never seen someone scoop up anything faster than I grabbed those.
My most embarrassing moment was when I heard someone yell across the laundromat, "Tough times?" I realized it was someone I knew and he was talking to me and I was sitting in a corner all by myself eating a chicken salad and tabbouleh sandwich. I responded, "You have no idea..." He walked out and I flipped my phone camera around to confirm what I already knew. I had tabbouleh nestled in between every single tooth...
One day, while standing and folding all our clothes together, a sweet stranger became more like an old friend as she shared her whole life story. Her move to America, her husband dying the year they arrived, her relationship with her kids... I couldn't help but notice the difference in the clothes we were folding. Her loads were all of her own clothes and mine were a little bit of everyone's. Patrick's t-shirts, Tripp's jerseys, and Blaire Alice's footed pajamas. The comparison was a much needed reminder that being the one who washes their clothes might be a task, but it is also a privilege... and it is also a season. And let me tell you, she was not one bit embarrassed for anyone to see her underwear as she proudly and perfectly folded each pair while telling me how much she loves the laundromat.
I'm not the only one who has made friends. We made it a Saturday morning tradition to head to the laundromat and grab breakfast next door. Tripp was not thrilled to be spending his morning there, but lo and behold, the owner's son was also there and he is also very into baseball. They became the quickest buddies and soon began playing wall ball right there in the laundromat. They used the machines to make up games with a tennis ball. I did get nailed in the face once as I was walking across the laundromat with a basket full of clothes. It hurt so bad I thought I was going to cry, but I just calmly giggled and acted like it didn't phase me a bit... but it did.
And of course girlfriend brings the fun everywhere she goes. I love that she knows how to be funny, because she sure does brighten our day... she is also not a bit embarrassed about anyone seeing her unmentionables.
One of my favorite moments was the day I had to arrange flowers on the folding table. I was heading to lunch right after and I volunteered to bring the centerpiece. As luck would have it, there is a flower shop right next to the laundromat! It was extra enjoyable for me and I'm sure a peculiar sight to others.
You know what I keep thinking about and what runs through my head as I load, unload, reload all of the loads into my car, the laundromat, the washer, the dryer, back into my car, back into my house and back in the drawers where they belong... we can find contentment during these frustrating times. Not that it is easy, but it is possible.
I keep alluding to this and I'll share some day, but I have had a hard few months. Things just haven't been going right or how I imagined they should go. I'm in a valley and while I'm working my way through, I don't want to miss the lessons God has for me here.
It was the Apostle Paul who said, "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need."
The secret: "I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13.
What a gift it is to be able tap into His strength. I love thinking about that and making that part of my daily prayer. I cannot do this in my own power and I don't have to...
When we invite Him into our struggles, our problems turn into possibilities and our prayers turn into praise. And in the spirit of praise is right where I want to be.
Borrowing some words from my new favorite song, "Praise" by Elevation worship.
I'll praise in the valley
Praise on the mountain
I'll praise when I'm sure
Praise when I'm doubting
I'll praise when outnumbered
Praise when surrounded
'Cause praise is the water
My enemies drown in
I'll praise when I feel it
And I'll praise when I don't
I'll praise 'cause I know
You're still in control
'Cause my praise is a weapon
It's more than a sound
More than a sound
Oh, my praise is the shout
That brings Jericho down
Oh, as long as I'm breathing
I've got a reason to
Praise the Lord!
I hope you are in an easier season than me, but in the chance that you too are walking through a valley, I'm praying for you to tap into the strength of your Creator and allow your problems to turn into praise.