I was folding laundry when I came to a defining moment early in our marriage.
Actually, I was folding my husband’s t-shirts. As I worked my way through the pile of clean laundry on the bed, I noticed that every single one of them was inside out. Of course. When he pulls them off, they turn that way. I guess it’s my job to turn them, then fold them. Something deep inside me rose up and cried I will NOT! It is beneath me! In triumph I folded it as it was. There!
Let him turn his own t-shirts.
From -ism to -ity
I had rolled into marriage on a wave of 70’s feminism. A polite Southern wave mind you, but quite indignant nonetheless. Men had held us back long enough. My career plans were not derailed by marriage, but I couldn’t let domesticity take too big a slice out of my life. I planted my feminist banner in the middle of the laundry pile that day. Mark would have to adapt! I felt justified in my position.
The pendulum soon swung to the other side of the issue. I had joined a small group studying Titus 2, led by a gracious older woman in my church. Soon the biblical teaching on roles began to gain a foothold in my life. No, more than that. It seized me with a vengeance. I had a new cause. I put down the banner of Feminism and picked up the banner of Femininity. I began to turn my husband’s shirts right side out with pious determination. I felt justified in my actions.
Then one day…
Fifteen years and three children later I was folding laundry in a different house. Lost in my thoughts and probably humming a Broadway tune I suddenly noticed what I was doing. I had been pulling my husband’s t-shirts out of the dryer one by one, whipping them outside out, giving them a pop and a fold and plopping them on the pile. Shaking my head in wonder I remembered how angry I had once felt about this simple task. And later how self-righteous.
This time I was just glad to have a husband to fold shirts for. He had been out of town and I’d missed him. When did I change? How did you do it, Lord?
When it comes to life change, we often put our hope in the wrong thing. Like the Galatians we think our law-keeping counts for something. That we are becoming better people because of the rules we obey or the labels we adopt. Or we place our confidence in the polar opposite. We stand on the anti side, staking our trust on the things we are not doing or believing. It’s vindication we are after, and we seek it under a variety of banners.
Paul’s word removes all banners but one.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. Galatians 5:6
Under the banner of Christ, folding t-shirts becomes the overflow of faith expressed in love. What’s your -ism?