Have you ever worked to get a stain out of a piece of clothing, and, thinking it was completely gone, only discovered later that it wasn’t?

You know what I’m talking about.

Maybe you treated a stain, pulled it out of the wash and couldn’t find a trace of it, then, satisfied, threw it in the dryer. Then you pulled it back out, and there was the faint outline of the stain, right there in plain view. Or baby clothes. Your child has outgrown a batch of clothing, so you launder them and pack them away. Then, either you have another baby, or you pull them out to give away, and BAM. There is every last stain that you thought was gone forever, only to have resurfaced somehow, and now in a weird yellowy color presumably from age and being packed away in the darkness.

I sat across from a friend at lunch, yesterday, and thought about those kinds of stains, and not because she was wearing stained clothing. She looked very cute, in fact, with her own sporty style, and her makeup, which I’ve always admired, perfectly applied so that it looked both polished and natural at the same time. No, I thought about stains because of something she’d shared with me a while back about her past. A painful, horrible incident of which she was a clear and undisputed victim, she felt time had healed her wounds, and although she’d shared it with me, I was among a very, very few. She kept that incident in the past where it belonged, she thought, and completely in the dark where most everyone she knew was concerned.

But she started to notice how the emotions that were created from that moment in her past had affected her present relationships. She tends to keep most people, even those she loves, at arm’s length. When she senses things getting too close and familiar, she pushes them away. She works hard to maintain control of the relationship. Even though she felt she’d dealt with what had happened to her, the old stain was working its way to the surface again, bleeding back out to ruin the fabric.

Keeping it in the dark wasn’t helping it fade, after all.

To her credit, she’s seeing the reality of this statement, and though she’d much rather not talk about it at all, she has chosen to seek help and do the opposite.

It’s hard.

It’s dredging up a bunch of gunk she’d rather not remember.

In the process, she’s chosen to tell the people closest to her what’s happened, because, as awful as it was, she’s starting to understand that it’s a part of the fabric of her life. But with each telling, something is happening that is surprising to her.

The stain on the fabric is getting lighter, and not just masked.

Clean for good.

We can’t help what’s woven into our lives, but we can pull that fabric out of the darkness and into the Light. Before we know it, that yellowy stain won’t be a stain at all.

It will be white as snow.


Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,
    scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
    set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes,
    give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
    shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
    or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
    put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
    so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
    and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
    I’ll let loose with your praise.” Psalm 51:7 MSG

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9 NIV