My mom made sure that as I was growing up I learned to do some of the basic household things necessary for most any American home. She gave me basic lessons on cooking and made sure I could find my way around the kitchen; she made sure I knew how to properly set a table and how to serve food to guests; she wanted me to know how to efficiently use a vacuum cleaner; she instructed me on how to clean windows without leaving streaks; etc. But my favorite household duty was learning how to wash clothes. Most of the other things I've conveniently forgotten but washing clothes is still fun for me! As a kid I would climb up on a chair and watch the water shoot into the tub and make bubbles with the detergent ... then the clothes would slowly begin to sink as the water level rose ... soon the agitator would begin to work and the clothes would somehow magically appear and then disappear and then reappear over and over again. To this day, and you can ask my family, I'll sometimes hang out in the laundry room watching and "making sure" things are working properly.
And I've thoroughly embraced the challenge of getting out tough stains. Grass, blood, juice, clay, food, etc. ... in raising 7 boys we've seen probably every stain imaginable and I'm willing, even eager, to tackle each stain. Maybe it involves soaking, pre-wash treatment, stain remover, homemade solutions, and/or scrubbing but I've never met a stain I've haven't tried to remove. And, by the way, I'm much better at all this than my wife. I've taught her a great deal over the years about washing clothes. If anything at the Boykin house needs a serious washing, it comes to me because I'm the master!
But there's another kind of washing in the Boykin home that I'm truly horrible at, where Anita is much more efficient and effective than I am, and it's something that I truly dread doing ... that thing is called repentance. The washing of my heart through confession of sin and allowing the cleansing grace of the Gospel to wash over me is far too uncomfortable. Why? Probably because I do think I'm the "master" of most everything, that I have things figured out, that it's my job to help everyone else to see their sin, that their dirt is far more offensive and visible than my own. Yes, I know my sin is real, that it's ugly, that I need to confess my specific sins daily, and that the Gospel gives daily cleansing, but it's just hard for me to do. I even know (and have proclaimed it to others) that confessing your own sin to your spouse and children is one of the most essential things for a healthy family life. Yet I wrestle with it each and every day and fail to do it as I know I should.
I guess I could blame my mom and dad for this weakness. Why didn't they teach me to deal with my sin with the same passion I have about washing clothes? Maybe I should blame that entire generation (my parent's generation) which was committed to "be strong and show no weakness." Probably I could even blame the poor leadership of the church where I grew up for not training me better in the ways of repentance and faith. But you know as well as I do that the true blame must rest on me and me alone. It's nobody's fault but mine for my arrogant, self-righteous, non-repentant attitude. I've wounded my own family, friends, and church members and have failed to demonstrate genuine repentance.
This is a battle for me ... and I suspect it's a battle for many of us. We all need to know the daily washing, cleansing, forgiveness, and grace that comes through genuine repentance but likely find it hard to admit and confess our sin. It's one of the reasons we so desperately need to "consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another ..." (Heb 10:24-25). We're in this battle together and need one another for support, encouragement, exhortation, and admonishment. Please pray for me as I seek to better love my wife, children, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, friends, and church family through recognizing my own sin, taking responsibility for it, repenting of it, and embracing the cleansing grace of the Gospel. I'm praying for you!