Did you know that when you wash a load of whites you need to make sure the load only has whites? (Why are you laughing already?) I was a young husband and father of two toddlers. Karen was out with the boys and I thought I’d surprise her by getting a load of laundry done before she came home.
I set the temperature to hot. I thought “I’ll get these things whiter than they’ve ever been.” I picked up the pile of clothes in one strong swoop, stuffed it in the machine, and closed the lid before anything could pop back out.
When the cycle was finished I grabbed the load in one strong swoop, pushed it into the dryer, closed the lid before anything could pop back out, and turned it on. I thought “If women could only learn to wash and dry like this they’d save so much time.”
When I returned to fold the dry laundry I had another thought. “She’s going to kill me.” For some reason all the whites I pulled out in one strong swoop were pink. I started pulling them out one by one to fold them. As I reached the center of the pile I found it. My orange Denver Bronco shirt. Apparently it had enlisted the whites to Bronco-mania. The best I could tell orange and white make a pinkish color.
In the pile of laundry was Karen’s new white blouse she was proud of. Just then I heard the door open upstairs.
Karen: “We’re home! Where are you?”
Me: “In the basement.”
Karen: “What are you doing?”
Me: “Folding the laundry.”
Karen: “You’re folding the laundry? What a great husband you are!”
Me: “You might want to hold onto that thought real hard.”
Karen, now joining me in the laundry room: “Why is everything pink?”
Me: “I’m a great husband, remember?”
Karen: I can’t repeat what she said.
Not really. She was disappointed but she forgave me. And then we went shopping to replace all the whites. You know how much it costs to replace a load of whites?
There is a lot life can teach you about forgiveness. We need it. And we need to give it. Jesus teaches us to pray this line: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
The order is important. Before we can even think about talking to our Father about what is owed us we must first remember what we owed. Jesus reminds us of our own need of forgiveness. The truth is we are all in debt to God. “There is no one righteous, not even one.” “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” “If we say, ‘We have no sin,’ we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
We are first reminded of our need for forgiveness because we can forget that the forgiveness we have received is forgiveness we are to give. And we need to forgive others. The Bible says we pay a price when we harbor the debts owed us. “You who tear yourself in anger.” “For anger kills a fool.” Does your experience validate these verses? All torn up inside because of the debts owed you? Feel like you’re dying because you can’t let it go? It’s a prison and you are the prisoner.
When we forgive others we are freed from the prison of our own making. We remember our forgiveness so we can forgive others. Not long after my deed that stained my washing experience, Karen accidently put a favorite sweater of mine in the dryer that I normally hung to dry so it would not shrink. (She says it was an accident. I have to believe her.)
What did I do? I yelled at her? I belittled her? Of course not. And you’d run me out of town if I had. She had forgiven me for presenting her with a pink blouse so I forgave her for presenting me with a toddler sized sweater.
Forgiveness may be the only gift intentionally designed to be re-gifted. Why don’t we do just that? Let’s ask God for the forgiveness we need each day. We’ll find ourselves more patient with the people in our lives and pass on forgiveness to them.
It’s the only way his children can behave. We need a clean start. Our debtors need one too. Might as well get used to it. In heaven everyone will be wearing white: “… the one who conquers will be dressed in white clothes…”
Question: What do you need to be forgiven of? Who do you need to forgive?