My Smelly Blue Shirt

Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  Surely you desire truth in the inner parts.  Cleanse me with hysop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.            Psalm 51:2, 6, 7
2014 April 023     I left a load of wet laundry in the washing machine for too long last week.  It soured and each piece of clothing had that awful stinky-feet smell.  As this happens to me quite a bit, I’ve developed a method I call “my usual:”  I rewash the clothes on the hot cycle, add another dose of detergent, a half cup of vinegar, and some fabric softener for good measure.  It always works, and did just that for every garment but one: my blue shirt with the subtle flowers and vines on the front.
     That shirt continued to wreak as it dried on a hanger over the bath tub.  I washed it over and over again, ramping up the recipe, doubling the detergent, vinegar and fabric softener.  Four laundry cycles and days later, I almost gave up.  I just couldn’t understand why everything else smelled like “Tide Mountain Fresh” after one rewash, and this darned shirt smelled like sweaty old sneakers no matter what I did.

     Then a new idea hit me.  I turned the shirt right side out, rewashed it, and made sure to hang it right side out to dry.  Lo and behold, it worked!  There must be something in the ink of the vines and flowers that needed to be air-side out to finally release that awful smell.
     I said something years and years ago that I thought needed to be said.  But it blew up in my face.  Immediately after the fact, I realized that I could have done a better job choosing my words.  But because I was standing up for someone else, and had the best of intentions, I just stuffed the whole episode, and the angst it caused me, away.
     Over the years, those feelings of angst have resurfaced, like the smell of sour laundry.  But as I did with my clothes, I’d developed a method for this situation too:  I’d focus on my good intentions as justification, and the angst would go away.
     However, lately, no matter how many times I apply “my usual,” the angst and bad feelings aren’t going away.  It’s just like the rancid smell of my blue shirt, and it is permeating through everything.
     So it’s time to turn things inside out.  “Desiring truth in my inner parts,” I have to finally admit that there’s another side to this that I have been ignoring for all these years.  Although I did have the best of intentions, my word choices, and the extent of what I said, did hurt some people.  No matter what angle you look at it, hurting others stinks.
     Best intentions aside, I need to apologize for the hurt I caused.  Hopefully this time, with God and the Holy Spirit’s help, I will find the right words when I do apologize so that these sour feelings, and all of us involved, will be washed clean.
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4 thoughts on “My Smelly Blue Shirt

  1. It’s so hard to recognize our part in conflict most of the time. We cannot control how others will react, but can control ourselves (with God’s help). It’s amazing that you were able to come to terms with that. I struggle with this daily. You are such an inspiration!

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  2. I love the analogy you used with the stinky shirt and stinky words!
    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, so I feel like I “know” you. I can’t help wondering if you really said anything wrong, or whether the other person just didn’t have good enough character or enough humility to accept it. I’m getting the idea you probably said what was needed, but the other person chose to take offense rather than take your words to heart. You are so kind-hearted to feel bad about that!

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    • How wonderful are you Deborah?!!! I guess I was using that rational for years as a way to avoid apologizing. But I’ve concluded that even if it wasn’t my fault that they took it the wrong way, those bad feelings that kept resurfacing for me told me that an apology was necessary for all involved. Just realizing and admitting this has already helped me immensely. 🙂

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