Let’s talk about the saying “Do not air your dirty laundry” for a moment. I have heard that more times than I can count over the years, just as I am sure that you probably have also. As I was sitting in church last Sunday listening (yes I was actually listening) to the sermon, I started thinking more in depth to the meaning of this statement. The minister was speaking about different areas of our lives where we carry a bias, dirty laundry being one of them.
What are they referencing to when they speak of dirty laundry? If you say that someone airs their dirty laundry in public, you disapprove of their discussing or arguing about unpleasant or private things in front of other people. Where did the phrase air your dirty laundry come from? It was first used in English in 1867, this idiom derived from an old French proverb, ll fault laver son linge sale en famille, meaning “One should wash one’s dirty laundry at home.” Napolean used this proverb when he returned from his exile in Elba in 1815.
So many times in our lives we feel that we have to keep things secret in order to avoid judgment. One of my biggest fears in life was to tell my story, I was worried what other people would think. Yes, I have faced quite a bit of criticism due to the fact that I put my story out there for others to know. A lot of people have different views and opinions about the trauma I have endured. But the thing we must all recognize is that each one of us deal with things differently. We all view things in a different light based on what we have endured and the circumstances that surrounded us at the time. We cannot judge others or assume to know what they have been through because we were not there. We do not know their thoughts or in what state of mind they were in at the time, and we do not know what condition their heart was in when they went through certain things in their life. We are all wired differently. Some of us are wired for anxiety and worry, and some have a more laissez-faire, it’s all going to work out kind of mentality. Perception plays a large part in how much each worry or trauma gets amplified for any one person, we each react differently based on our own life experiences that have formed us since birth. Often we form a bias (sometimes without even realizing that we do) as to how others should behave in a certain circumstance, and for that we are wrong.
When I wrote my book a year ago, I aired my dirty laundry for the whole world to see. This was much to the displeasure of some people that thought I was wrong to tell it, that it all should stay buried and it was no one’s business. At times I have went back to their suggestions and thought maybe they were right, because I did get more than my share of criticism from others. But it was my story to tell, the good and the bad. By telling my truth, I was able to take that dirty laundry and wash it. It no longer sat in a pile of stench that engrossed my entire being where I would look at it day by day and become disgusted by its presence. I told my story, which gave it the opportunity to be washed clean from my mistakes. I no longer had to look at it on a daily basis because I had already confronted those dirty mistakes. I had cleaned them through the grace of God. I cannot say they no longer exist, but I can tell you they look different to me now. I now look at a clean pile of laundry that sits before me. We must all acknowledge that no one is perfect, even though many seem to put themselves on a pedestal and assume that position. We all have dirty laundry that could use some detergent.
There is power in admitting to the things you have done wrong in your life, airing your dirty laundry if I may? Every one of us has something we hide, a truth we want no one to know because of fear. The people I respect the most are the ones who are honest and humble about themselves, and about the journey that brought them to where they are. If we never make mistakes, how can we learn? If we are perfect, what room does God have to mold us into his image, to make us into something better? It is the mistakes, the dirty laundry, that gives us room for growth.
Dirty laundry will stay dirty until you pull it all out, acknowledge it needs to be washed, and then clean it! We all make mistakes, but acknowledging them and laying them out before God, gives you the opportunity for them to be washed away by his love.