Dragging Our Dirty Laundry to Church

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“So, I guess while we’re up here we'll share a bit of our dirty laundry with you…”

Husband and I stood in front of the sanctuary on Sunday. We were being introduced as new members of the church we have been attending since we moved. 

Our pastor asked us beforehand, “Do you want to share about Aliza with the rest of the congregation?”

At first we hesitated.

It’s a small church. Most people already knew. But for some reason, sharing in this manner felt like a tipping point:

What if we make people feel uncomfortable?

What if we become a burden?

What if we turn into “that couple dealing with that thing” instead of  just “Collin and Kendra?”

After we declared our faith in Christ and our commitment to the church, Husband shared briefly about Aliza. “So, I guess while we’re up here we will share a little bit of our dirty laundry with you…”

And after he shared, something beautiful happened. The rest of the congregation stood and made a promise to us:

“We as a congregation commit to lovingly care for Collin and Kendra as joint-partakers of the Gospel and fellow members of the Body of Christ, and we promise to seek their spiritual and physical well being, even as they seek ours.”

We have heard these words a hundred times in a hundred variations. And had we not been in the middle of this pregnancy as we are right now, they probably would have felt like that – just some words we have heard a hundred times in a hundred variations.

But never have these words meant so much to us. Because that’s the thing about being part of the church, a part of the Body:

We. Are. Not. Alone.

At the foundation of that statement, it’s God. We are not alone because God is with us. But it’s also His people.

His people {our family, friends, acquaintances, complete strangers,} standing with us, and taking care of us, and bringing us meals, and babysitting Toddler during appointments, and sending us cards and emails and texts and gift cards, and calling us on the phone, and reminding us over and over and over that they are praying without ceasing.

A mom who recently walked a similar road wrote me:

“I am still praying every day. Praying that He will provide you with exactly what you need, when you need it, even if you don’t know you need it. Praying for peace and reassurance that He will carry you no matter what. Praying that He overwhelms you with new mercy every morning. Praying that He will heal her.”

And I don’t wonder why at times – amidst the chaos and the heartache and the wondering and the worrying and the anger and the tears – I feel complete peace. I don’t wonder why at times I feel like everything might be okay, no matter what happens. I don’t wonder why at times I am still capable of the kind of laughter that brings tears both to my eyes and into my underpants.

At my appointment Monday, the doctor said, “You are handling this better than 99.9% of people I know who have gone through this. And that’s probably because of your faith.”

My first thought was, Well, you didn't see me laying on my bed staring out the window before this appointment. And you didn’t hear me crying into my husband’s chest for the umpteenth time in the past three months. And you won’t see me fight back tears all the way home from this appointment either.

But my second thought, and what I actually said was, “It is crazy all of the people who are praying for us right now.”

Oh, the Body of Christ. And oh, the beauty of the Body caring for all of its parts – whether broken or functioning at full capacity.

But courage.

It also takes courage. Courage for people to share what they are struggling with rather than keeping it to themselves. Courage for people to surround those who are struggling rather than comfortably avoiding them. Because it’s not always easy: vulnerability, listening, offering support.

It can be awkward. Awkward sharing and awkward supporting. We are imperfect people. Those who want to help don’t know what to say. And I, one of those currently “struggling parts,” have a long list of things I don’t really want to hear except "I'm sorry," or “I’m praying for you,” or “this really stinks.”

But as individual parts of the Body, we have to be willing to share in the platforms - big or small - that we are given. And as a whole church Body, we need to continually step up and care for those taking that risk of sharing.

Because it’s not only the good, the happy, the put-together parts of our lives that become members of the church. It’s also our mistakes, our grief, our dirty laundry, our struggles, our pain, our baggage. We carry it all through the doors with us. And when we admit what’s tattered in our lives rather than pretending that we have it all together, there is a beautiful platform set for mutual love and grace and mercy and support.

The Body is then able to really know its members, to really support each other, to care for each other. Through our hurt, our pain, our differences.

So again, thank you to everyone who is walking this strange, awful, awkward road with us. Thank you for your incessant prayers, your listening ears, your caring hearts and kind gestures. God is providing us with exactly what we need, when we need it, even if we don’t know we need it. And it’s all through you.

We ask you to keep praying with us: for peace in all circumstances, for wisdom in all decisions, and for a miracle to heal all of Aliza's physical brokenness. Our next ultrasound is Monday, May 18.

And may the beautiful Body of Christ, the church, and each of its members continue to be courageously vulnerable, to not let themselves be held back from sharing their struggles, their pain, their mistakes. To stop pretending that they have it all together and tidy. 

And may the beautiful Body of Christ, the church, and each of its members continue to courageously support those parts that are struggling. Whether through prayers, a note, a phone call, a casserole, a hug. 

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another. {John 13:24-25}

Wouldn't it be beautiful if we all dragged our dirty laundry to church? And even more lovely if we then reminded each other that Christ not only cares about our dirty laundry {our grief, our pain, our temptation, our mistakes} but He also comforts it, gives it hope, offers it redemption, and washes it white as snow? 

Grace and Peace,
Kendra