Sunday, July 8, 2012
here in the laundry room
crying in my laundry room. that's how i would have been found if anyone had been looking. thankfully the house was relatively empty and the washer was running loudly. no one looked. no one found. but still this crazy mama leaned on her front loader and cried her eyes out.
was it really all about shirts? seriously jody, get a grip. there are so many things bigger than a row of school uniforms to cause a woman to become unglued. but today it was the assortment of colorful polos hanging from plastic. today it was the sight of perimeter school shirts lined up ready to be boxed. i had purposefully left them until now. but today camps had ended, the vacation was over, and the visitors were gone. and, most of all, today was july 1st. somehow, even on this sunday morning, i woke knowing that the moving month had arrived and there was little i could do to put off the packing any longer. i had no argument to present, no alternative plan to offer, no distraction to deliver. it was time to get serious. in just a few weeks we'd be moving our family from georgia to minnesota. it was going to happen. the inevitable had come. july had arrived and the countdown had begun.
but there were these shirts all lined up as they have been for the past many, many years. we've had school uniforms hanging in our laundry room for well over a decade now. with several years of four kids at the same school wearing roughly the same sized uniforms, i had developed a system to just wash them, dry them and hang them all in one place. the kids were plenty capable of wandering down to the laundry room each morning and making their daily selection. there was no need to scrutinize the size of the shirt or deliberate over the correct closet...i left that task to the children. sometimes the oldest wore things a bit too snug and sometimes the littlest guy chose a shirt too big. but we learn to pick our battles when parenting five under one roof. too small or too big seem to matter too little most days. heck, if i was going to be really honest, clean or dirty doesn't always matter all that much. i want you to know it hasn't always been like that though. there once was a day when i ironed each item and set out the appropriate uniform pieces each night. there once was a day when i worried if bows coordinated and socks matched, but those days are long gone, in the past few years we have worked our way into some kind of school days survival mode.
and now, in this first week of july, these shirts are finally coming down. as i began to pull them from their hangers, i found a small hole in the wall behind the shirts. they have hung there so long, i had forgotten about that hole. i hadn't seen it in quite some time! but the moment had come to remove the hangers and fold the sleeves and tuck them all carefully into a box marked "pcs uniforms." 52 shirts total. seems ridiculous now that i've counted them. seems excessive now that i see them all piled neatly and labeled clearly in their plastic crate.
when the box was sealed and the tears had stopped, i called my oldest boy to carry it upstairs for me. "please put it in the attic storage," i said to him. i knew i wouldn't be able to stare too long at that particular bin. i walked back into the laundry room with its empty rack and felt the room expand dramatically in size. thankfully, as always, there were clean clothes coming soon out of the dryer, ready for hanging. they would fill the space quickly. and that's what i wanted. fill that space. hide that hole. pretend it didn't exist. i can't remember a day when those uniforms weren't hanging there, but that day had come and it was july first and this was only the beginning of a long month of emptying. i knew from this point forward each day would be spent tackling some kind of closet or cupboard or messy corner of our life.
and that's exactly what has happened this week. i have moved from one thing to the next. there is no shortage of stuff to do. somehow i think if i organize everything perfectly, then the transition will be that much smoother. if we don't have to waste one moment at the new house in minnesota wondering where our favorite this or that is, than i will have spared us all some monumental grief. because that's kind of what i fear. i am a little bit afraid that i might come upon a child searching relentlessly, fruitlessly for some specific treasure which just cannot be located. i am afraid it will be at that moment when the sadness will come and carry us all away, make us crumble, break our family momentum, attack our reslove. is that weak? perhaps. is that pathetic? maybe. but this woman who loves to control things is feeling a bit rattled in this first week of july, in this final month of moving. even though i am absolutely certain i cannot control every item and every nuance of this upheaval, i still desperately want to. i know at some point i will have to start dumping things into boxes and salute the contents with a "see you on the other side" kind of mentality. i cannot possibly be tidy and on top of it all each step of the way. just like my system with those school uniforms, i'll need to figure out a more practical approach.
a couple of weeks ago, a man from the moving company came to our house to kind of "assess" our situation. he was very kind and easy to work with, but as we moved from room to room he kept saying, "oh the moving company is going to looooove you." i think what he meant was we have a whole lot of stuff in our house. the more stuff they move, the more money they make. i assured him countless times that i was planning on getting rid of a lot. purging. paring down. i was certain i had time to shrink the stuff, in fact, i was looking forward to it. i was. i was. i was. but he knew. he has been doing this job for over 35 years (he told me). he has met with thousands of busy housewives in his life and this man knew from experience what would become of my grand intentions. he chuckled to himself as he counted up the pieces and inventoried our possessions. the ching-ching sound of dollar signs could almost be heard as he scratched out notes on his clipboard. i was a tad frustrated with him and his attitude and a bit overwhelmed with me and our house full of stuff. where in the world did all this come from anyway? in 22 years of marriage we have acquired a lot. we have acquired maybe too much. i followed the moving-man and his clipboard into the next room and sighed again... more stuff.
these 52 shirts in the laundry room are only the beginning. i know this. i know this month will be spent weeding through random items and unearthing memories and forgotten belongings. i'll have to figure out a system. i'll at least have to figure out how to get through the day without too many tears. but mostly, i'll have to stop fighting for control. this is the lesson God is teaching me right now. He is uncurling my fingers from my things. i may have successfully packed up the 52 uniform shirts, but i feel myself still clenching hard on the bits and pieces of our atlanta life. it is the first week in july though, and the time has come. open the hand, loosen my grip, and let go.
it's funny, but the month of july has been sort of significant for our family in the past few years. two summers ago, we let go of a somewhat orderly life when we headed to china and introduced an unknown child into our home. we had no idea what to expect, but we learned to trust God with our children and the shape of our family. that was july 2010. last year, we let go of our carefree existence when we healed from the wicked stab of cancer. once again, we had no idea what to expect, but somehow we let go and we learned to trust God with our health. that was july 2011. this year we are letting go of people and a place. and though it will be painful, somehow we will learn to trust God's plan and provision in this as well. i can assure you, we still have no idea what to expect. but this is july 2012. and it is here.
and just like in 2010 when we boarded that plane for china...and just like in 2011 when we worried about the cancer and the recovery...God was there in those julys. God is here in this july. when we are scared and uncertain and fighting for control, He is here.
He is here uncurling this clingy woman's fingers from her things.
He is here whispering His truth gently in her ear.
He is here in the heat of another uncertain july.
He is here in the midst of this move.
He is here in my laundry room.
He will be there in minnesota.
He is the God of here. He is the God of there. He is God. He is.
"where can I go from your Spirit?
where can I flee from your presence?
if i go up to the heavens, you are there;
if i make my bed in the depths, you are there.
if i rise on the wings of the dawn,
even there your hand will guide me,
if i settle on the far side of the sea,
your right hand will hold me fast." ~ psalm 139:7-10