There are few things that fill me with such a sense of satisfaction as a clothesline full of laundry. To see clean laundry blowing in the breeze is a wonderful sight.

Of course, growing up I did not feel so satisfied with the hanging of clothes on the line. What I did not realize was that the act of hanging out clothes gave me plenty of time to think. Hanging clothes on the line does not take a great deal of brain power and the slowing down gives you time to sort out life’s more difficult issues.

However, I did give a great deal of thought to how to hang out the laundry. All the shirts go together with the large ones first followed by the medium and so forth. Jeans are hung on the same line and towels are hung in the same graduated order as the t-shirts. Some might say that this is a little OCD, but I found that this was the best way to get the most clothes on the line and not run out of clothespins.

It may sound like a control thing and maybe it is. How many things in life to we really have control of? Not much. I can have complete order in the hanging of my clothes. This probably explains why I enjoy it so. While raising my children, I find it is a great respite from the constant talking and questions. The kids, for whatever reason, leave me completely alone while I am hanging out the laundry. I suspect it might have to do with the fear that I might make them help! Anyway, even in the area of raising kids we really don’t have complete control. Each little bundle of joy comes packed with their own free will. This means that while I may lay down the rules and the structure for the family and home, they have the choice to comply or not to comply. They have the choice to chose between the consequences of good choices or bad choices. I ultimately have no control over what they will choose. What I have control over is the manner in which they are trained, what values I will instill, how right and wrong is defined and the fact that there will be unpleasant consequences if they chose not to comply with my boundaries. But at some point in time, they will make a personal choice as to which path they will follow.

I do not really want to control them anyway. I want my children to chose to follow the right path from a desire in their heart to follow and love God, not simply because of external forces. External controls are fine while they are small children, but as the enter the teen years and gear up to leave home- if they are still making choices based on my approval or being grounded we are headed for rocky waters. They need to make their own choices and make their lives their own following the plan that their God has for them.

Now, as my oldest two reach the age of leaving home “the proof will be in the pudding.” I do not real control over what they chose unless they invite me in and ask my advice. And even then, they do not have to chose to follow the advice. So, as I ponder these things and watch from the sidelines cheering as they take off, I find great solace in the orderly rows of clothes hanging on the line. This I can control.

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