I had to visit a Laundromat the other day. Our dryer went down for a few days. Actually, the dryer was fine; it was the house wiring. Something about how we could have burned down the house trying to dry some jeans.
I love the smell of laundry. It might be the fabric softener. I even like bleach, though Cindy tells me it’s really not good to use. I do anyway, mostly for the smell. Sometimes when I come home from the office I can smell that someone’s doing laundry, since I pass by the dryer duct. It makes me happy, and I’m suddenly like Mr. Rogers walking in the door. I reach for my house shoes and cardigan till I remember I don’t own a cardigan.
Maybe it’s just the idea of clean clothes and towels. I hate having to use beach towels on those weekends when the help forgets to come to work—when whichever child who was supposed to wash towels didn’t. Towels of the beach variety are much too cumbersome in our small bathroom. Beach towels are for those days you can waste away at the beach. It’s just depressing in February to dry off with a nine-foot towel embroidered with palm trees, reminding you of warmer, sunnier places.
Back to the Laundromat … There were several other people there, none of whom I recognized. Mostly, I read and made a few phone calls while I waited for my clothes to dry. But I realized something during the hour I was there—an unwritten rule that a public laundry rookie like me might have easily overstepped. What’s this rule, you ask?
Keep your eyes on your own clothes.
Job, whom we usually revere because of his patience (though he was a bit of a complainer, if you ask me), said that he made a covenant with his eyes not to look with lust upon a young woman. He very well could have added something about not looking in the direction of a woman folding her underwear. Like Job, just keep your eyes on your pile of clothes. Fold your boxers and get out of there. So they’re a little damp? They’ll be fine. They’ll dry in your dresser.
It’s quite an awkward situation for a married man, sort of like running into a woman you know at Victoria’s Secret. I should add that you were there shopping for your wife, though you weren’t aware of her sizes and you felt creepy, and maybe sinful, looking for a comparison—“she’s about like her.” Not that it’s ever happened to me.
It’s said that some Pharisees were so concerned with not lusting that they closed their eyes whenever they approached a woman on the street. Unfortunately, it’s still possible for a blind man to lust, and these religious leaders in their zeal simply ended up with cuts and bruises from walking around with their eyes shut. The remedy for lust isn’t trying not to look at what draws your attention but allowing the Holy Spirit to redeem how you view what has normally been an object of lust.
That’s the gospel right there. God washes what has been stained and uses something more powerful (and non-toxic) than bleach.
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. — Psalm 51:7 NLT
I love the smell of clean laundry.