Airing My Dirty Laundry

laundry for dummiesMy last post was about bitterness and how important it is to guard our heart. Today, I want to give you a real life example about how I first learned to guard my heart. If you’d rather call it boundaries, that’s fine, too, but scripture is clear: It’s our duty to put ourselves in a position where we’re not vulnerable to bitterness.

It’s been said we shouldn’t air our dirty laundry in public, but if someone else can benefit from my exposé, I have to say it’s worth it. So, here goes.

When I was married to my first husband, it wasn’t long before I realized he wasn’t house trained. Any of you know what I mean? I don’t think my man had ever seen a laundry basket in his life. He left his socks and underwear everywhere.  Like a trail of breadcrumbs, they left a pile of evidence everywhere he’d been.

I knew there was no way I was going to get him to pick it up. Believe me I tried and the issue was making me angry. Sometimes it’s the little things that bother us the most. They have a way of wearing us down. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart for out of it flow the issues of life.” For me, when I first learned how to put a guard on my heart, I had to start with these smaller issues. I knew I’d never be able to deal with significant issues until I could learn how to overlook small offenses.

So here was my dilemna: My expectations were causing me bitterness. How could I communicate a boundary that would put a guard on my heart without requiring him to change?

Here’s what happened. One day, I told him nicely. I told him respectfully. “I can’t make you pick up your underwear, but I can change my response to this situation. So here’s what I’m going to do.” (This is the first step of guarding your heart—communicating a change, expressing it verbally, and making your needs known.)  I told him, “If you don’t pick up your underwear, I’m still going to pick it up because I don’t like seeing it on the floor, but from now on, whatever you leave on the floor, I’m putting in this special basket, not in the laundry basket. I’ll be happy to do your laundry, as long as you put it in the laundry basket, but I won’t wash whatever ends up in the special basket.” 

Guess what? He didn’t change his habits one bit. Still left trails of evidence everywhere. But, I was no longer angry! There was a huge difference in my peace. Why? Because I had put a guard on my heart. I finally realized I was the only one I could change and I was getting set free. In the meantime, my ex-husband wore underwear he hadn’t seen in years.  And eventually…

He did a load of laundry.

Unmet expectations are a set up for bitterness. The key to putting a guard on our heart involves releasing others from our expectations to change. We are the only ones we can change!

Now it’s your turn! I’d love to hear your examples about how you’ve learned how to set boundaries and put a guard on your heart.

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3 Responses to Airing My Dirty Laundry

  1. Barbara at #

    We are the only ones we can change – so true! I chided my husband the other day for taking a bottled water out of the fridge and drinking it instead of pouring himself a glass from the pitcher of filtered water. He shot back at me, “a man ought to be able to get wants he wants out of his own fridge”!” “But if you only realized how many containers of liquids I carry in the house weekly of soda, water, juice, milk, etc., and I specifically buy the bottled water for when we go somewhere”, I retorted.
    He was tired from working all day, so I left him alone for awhile, and then we talked later, and worked it out. We agreed he’s free to get what he wants as long as he’s willing to carry in all the drinks I buy because it’s causing me neck & shoulder pain.
    (If he ever quits helping me, I’ll hide my bottled water!)
    Marriage is alot of compromise, give and take, talking about stuff until you work out an agreement that meets each others needs. In my last marriage, I was a stuffer because I was married to a man with an anger problem. So I learned to stuff my real feelings alot to avoid being the victim of very dysfunctional, hurtful behavior Now I’ve learned to stand up for myself, but at the same time take my husband’s needs into consideration.
    For the right balance, I seek God’s wisdom continually. And we all make mistakes, but working things out brings greater understanding of what’s important to each of us.
    hope that helps someone

  2. Alexavia at #

    I wanted to spend a mutine to thank you for this.

  3. Janelle at #

    Hey, you’re the goto exptre. Thanks for hanging out here.

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