Claudine Phillips

When I realized I am like “Them” and am grateful for it


[Tweet “god always finishes big.”]

Sometimes God has us grow in ways we never see coming. He has stretched me in big stuff that I felt like I was never going to survive.

He gave me an opportunity for my faith and trust in him to grow while our youngest was in the NICU when he was only 26 days old. He suddenly swelled up like a balloon for no apparent reason. It was a hard and stretching time not knowing what was going on and if we were loosing our new precious baby. It was a minute-by-minute faith walk. Trusting that God was there and His glory would be revealed was an experience I never want to walk through. Ever again.

To God’s glory, six long days later, Crosby was released and he has been healthy ever since. We have been on a road of navigating food allergies. It’s better than NICU’s.

That was a faith walk in the big stuff. I have learned that God can be in the small stuff, too. Shad and I had house hunted for six months and finally moved into our “new to us” home by the seven month. During the time of the hunt, we landed in an 800 square foot 1950’s cabin. Complete with three bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen, living space, and a place to eat. I could see the children play outside on the property that afforded bike ramps, creek discoveries, snow forts, snowball fights, fairy house building, snow shoeing, cross country skiing practice… You name it, it was paradise.

Paradise with a glitch. There was no washer and dryer on our property. Slight over sight on my part on making the reservations. This is where the “small stuff” stretching began. I grew up very materially privileged in Plano, Texas during the 1980s. It was a land of plenty. There were new homes, new cars, and new buildings as far as you could see. New everything. The town was booming and families were prospering. I had every luxury I could imagine. Shopping and eating out was at my fingertips. I had little to no want materially in life.

Despite the luxuries, I was still raised to clean up after myself and to do my own laundry. I was one of the rare ones in college that was teaching my girlfriends how to separate, load, unload, and keep your clothes from having that shade of pink we are familiar with when that red sock gets in the way.

So, not having a washer and dryer on our property paradise was perplexing to me. I asked Shad, “Well what are we going to do?” He looked at me with a glimpse of “What have I married?…” running through his mind and slowly responded, “We are going to do our laundry at the laundry mat.”

My stomach flipped. Beads of sweat formed on my brow. My heart began to race. I was capable of laundry, just not at the laundry mat where people clean their dog beds. Where my germs would mix with other people’s and dog’s germs. Worse yet, I started to think of the people I already knew here in town and began to plan how to do laundry without anyone seeing me. What would “those” people think?

“What’s wrong with her? Oh, they can’t afford to have their own laundry room. “

And the worst thought I absolutely hate to admit, I am not like them.


The laundry piled up and “we” turned into “me” and I loaded up the first round of what turned into six months of weekly trips. As you can imagine, I was a wreck the first few times. People seemed to come in with ease, load their quarters and sit and read, talk, and pass time until it was time for the dryer cycle switcheroo. Then sit a little while longer and say good-byes and see you next week.

They made it look so easy.

I stood there. All clothes unloaded, no quarters, and no cash to make change in the change machine. I had to reload the car, drive to the bank, get change, and then return, only to find all the washers taken.

I cried.

After a few trips, I got the hang of it. I learned the best times to go, how many quarters I would need, and to presort before I arrive.

I decided to view this situation as a clear opportunity to connect and to visit with my community. Conversations unfolded. Quarters and laundry soap were shared. I held babies, shook hands, and even reminisced of favorite Christmas memories with strangers. It was beautiful.

There is one moment I will never forget. As I was unloading from the washer {to the cool metal rolly-carts that every home should have}, a beautifully kept woman walked in and looked around with an all too familiar look on her face: lost. She was there to wash her “things.” I could identify her lost look all too well. The “I can’t believe I’m here” moment stretched across her face. The laundry mat used to be beneath me, but now it was my source to essentials. Even community.

I had become one of them and it was good.

I watched from a distance as an employee helped her navigate the coins, the soaps, the cycles, and the pure humiliation I could see overwhelm her. He was gentle, kind, very caring, and attentive. Finally, a sense of relief washed over her and she was able to do the simple task of laundry, but difficult task of getting over self.

I am grateful for my seven-month laundry mat experience. God puts me in places I never want or desire to go, but he has work to do in me so I can do work for Him. I am humbled to be His servant by becoming small so He can become big.

Seven months later, I look back and smile. Not having a laundry facility in my house afforded me necessary shrinking. It gave me new perspective and new friendships. I will miss getting eight loads of laundry done in two hours, but I know God will continue to place me where He wants me to be: in the uncomfortable. I’m never done growing.

David remembered how God delivered him from the paw of the the lion and bear as he prepared to run towards the giant before him. {1 Samuel 17:37} May I always remember how God has been faithful in each trial I face.


I realize there are far more uncomfortable places God can place me, and he has. He stretched me gently in this lesson of public laundry.

Bob Goff has said, “Everyone’s leap looks different.”

[Tweet ““Everyone’s leap looks different.- Bob Goff””]

I leapt into the dirty world of dog beds and germs. He wrung out pretension and gave me perspective. We all have germs and most of us have dogs. We washed together. We shared stories. We were community.

Wherever God stretches, don’t doubt if it is in the small. He always finishes big.

[Tweet “Wherever God stretches, don’t doubt if it is in the small. He always finishes big.”]


Comments are closed.