What Sorting Laundry Taught Me About Confession

I have this thing about sorting laundry. I don’t know where it came from, or why I’ve become obsessive about washing whites with whites, darks with darks, towels with towels.

I never used to be that way until my husband and I were blessed with the gift of our very own washer and dryer. I would just throw it all in, knowing that whether I sorted or not it would come out clean.

And this whole sorting and cleaning process got me thinking about how I ‘sort’ myself before I feel worthy of being cleaned.

Confession and prayer are difficult topics. One day, as I was folding laundry, God taught me quite the lesson about the state of my own heart. Do you practice true confession? Do you feel God's forgiveness? Read here for Biblical encouragement grounded in truth.


Let me explain.

In my sinful mind, there are categories of sin. Selfishness, arrogance, pride – these sins come from my thoughts. Anxiety, fear, worry – sins that come from my lack of trust, from a place of fear in my soul. Slander, gossip, crude sarcasm – sins that come out of my mouth, originating in the heart.

When I pray, asking God for forgiveness, I oftentimes sort my sins. God, forgive me for my pride, forgive me for gossiping, forgive me for being fearful of the future… well, yep, that covers it.

Okay, not that casually, but you get the idea.

I feel like I have to cover all of my sin bases. All of the parts of my sinfulness. My whites, darks, towels.

When really, my prayer should be something like this.

Heavenly Father, all parts of me are sinful, all sins are wretched. There is no ranking, no sorting, no figuring out my sin before I confess them. There is just confessing. There is gossip, which comes from the heart and also the head, as well as the deep places of my soul that feel insecure. There is fear, and it might originate in my un-trusting soul but quickly spreads to irrational thoughts and unloving language towards those trying to comfort. There is selfishness, and I know that might start in my big head, but it also ends up in the words that spew so carelessly from my heart. So God, forgive me for sorting, because all of me in sinful. All of me is just as sinful as the rest of me.

I wish I could grasp this every time I confess. I wish I could understand the depth of my humanness, the depth of my sinfulness.

I wish I could understand that every sin touches all of me.

There is no sorting, no preparing. There is no figuring out which sin fits where, which base it might cover. There is just sin.

But thankfully there is a faithful God who loves us even when we sort, prepare, and try to cover our bases. He forgives anyway.

Confession and prayer are difficult topics. Do you practice true confession? Do you feel God's forgiveness? Read here for encouragement grounded in truth.

Practice confessing – truly confessing – with me, friends?

Maybe you’re asking “how?”

Well, may I encourage you with three truths about God?

God hears.

He hears your every word. When you lie in bed and pray yourself to sleep, God hears you. When you mumble a quick prayer on the drive to work, God hears you. He chooses to be present, to hear our burdens, requests, and joys. So, when you are confessing, know that God hears.

God listens.

This is different than “God hears.” God physically hears your prayers, but He also listens intently to your heart behind the prayer. He knows the real you – all of you. He listens to your emotions, your needs, your wants. He hears, yes, but He also listens. This means that God cares about the heart motive behind confession and the reason for your emotions. He listens because…

God cares.

He crafted you. He called you to Himself. He cares about your wellbeing and your future. Which means He cares about your prayers. Remember that verse in Matthew 10 about the sparrow? God cares for and dearly loves the sparrow. But He cares about you even more.

What does this mean for your confession? Two things.

If God hears, listens, and cares, it means we are meant to confess. We are told to confess our sins in Scripture, so maybe this seems like a no-brainer. But can I challenge you on something? When you confess, do you believe that the Lord hears, listens, and cares about your confession?

If God hears, listens, and cares, it means we are washed clean immediately. There is instant forgiveness from God when our confession comes from a place of true sorrow over our sin. But… we must grasp that God hears, listens, and cares about our repentance. It makes His grace and forgiveness all the more beautiful.

Folding and sorting laundry really gets me thinking. And this time it was something so incredibly merciful that God blew my mind away.

Why do I “sort” my sins? Because I didn’t understand the depth of God’s hearing, listening, and caring. When I finally did grasp that reality, there was no sorting.

There is just sin. And confession. And forgiveness.

Prayer. Confession. These are hard topics. Have a question? Email me! I don’t claim to be a theologian, but I do claim to enter the lives of people who want to know Jesus better.

17 thoughts on “What Sorting Laundry Taught Me About Confession

  1. This was such a thought-provoking post. I have never thought of my confession to the Lord like that before. Do I sort my sins into categories, keeping them separate? I love how you point out that, while it seems simple, sin sorting shows a lot of about what we are remembering about God.

    Next time I am sorting my laundry, I will definitely be reminded that I am wholly sinful but that my God wholly forgives. Thanks!

    1. Thank you, Meredith, for commenting! I am glad that God chose to speak to you here. It is so impactful to think about how we think about God in the everyday of life, isn’t it? Even laundry sorting. 😉

    1. Christina, exactly! The thought honestly hadn’t crossed my mind of the visual representation, but now I see it and smile. What a reminder. Thanks for commenting – and for pointing out my “accidental” visual. Ha!

  2. I hadn’t really thought of it that way before, but I certainly do “pre-sort” my sins before I bring them before Him. Definitely will pause next time I pray.

    1. I do too, Judith. And the thought had never crossed my mind until this laundry day recently! Isn’t it amazing how new truth seeps constantly when we’re seeking it? Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  3. I often lie in bed and confess my sins to my husband because it says in the Word to confess your sins to God and you’ll be forgiven and then confess your sins to one another and God will heal you, but I am also learning to be convicted of my righteous in Christ because that’s what gives us the power to move forward into really overcoming sin. I’m loving Kenneth Copeland’s Force of Righteousness, such a tiny book but so powerful

    1. I’ve never heard of that book, Lizzy, but I LOVE to read so I will definitely check it out! Isn’t is amazing that God not only wants to forgive our sin, but to heal us from it as well? Thanks for bringing that to mind. What a powerful way to start my Saturday! I am forgiven AND healed.
      Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  4. Hi, Alison! I think this is my first time at your lovely blog. 🙂 This is a thought-provoking post you shared with us over at Grace and Truth. I hadn’t really thought before about feeling the need to confess each and every sin, but you’re right in saying that we are thoroughly sinful! So, we should just ask for forgiveness in entirety. I really enjoyed this post! Thanks for sharing with us last week. 🙂
    Jen @ Being Confident of This

    1. Thanks, Jen! I love the Grace & Truth linkup! I always find wonderful and encouraging links there. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. “Completeness in confession” is so important, is it not? 🙂

  5. Oh my, thank you so much for this post. How I needed it this very day. The thing that I often forget in my regret and sadness over my own sin is the simplicity of it. As you said there is “Just sin. And confession. And forgiveness”. And I’ll add God forgets immediately, even when I remember it for hours or days. I need to remember the simplicity of it, period.
    Thank you for this reminder. I enjoy your posts so very much and they always touch right at the heart of life.

    1. Sallyann, thank you for the encouragement! And yes, how true. God does forgive & forget, and my heart has trouble grasping that fact too. What an amazing God we have to love us with that kind of forgive-and-forget love!
      So glad you commented. 🙂 Blessings!!

  6. After reading about laundry a different way to pray and sorting clothes. I am always looking for help in those areas. Thank you very much and God bless you.

  7. It sounds as though you might enjoy learning what Catholicism teaches about confession as you dig deeper into this.

    Our desire to confess to our Father and His forgiveness is vocalized through a priest. The priest is acting “in persona Christi” which means he has been given the privilege of…let’s call him a telephone for practical purposes…the priest is the phone by which you receive God’s healing and restorative graces. Catholics are encouraged to do what’s called a “daily examination” where we review our day, check in mentally and spiritually with our sins and determine whether we need to get to confession or not. I like to think of confession as being on par with bathing or washing your hands. Your hands or body may not *appear* dirty, but as part of good hygeine, we tend to wash and bathe as ways to keep ourselves healthy. And so it is with confession/reconciliation. We confess our sins regularly because it helps us hear God’s plans for our lives more clearly.

    It’s hard to know what He wants us to do when our lives are mirred with a long list of unrepented sins. And going to the priest gives us the opportunity to confess to both God and our community with one shot. Plus, we are guaranteed that our sins will never be revealed outside of the sacrament of reconciliation lest the priest excommunicate himself {that is how grave of a sin it is for a priest and none are willing to lose their faculties on account of your/our little sins!} With accountability partners, there is no guarantee that our sins aren’t shared or discussed.

    And finally, it is an amazing feeling to walk out and know that as far as the East is from the West, so our sins are from God. He forgives, He loves, He draws us in. And He gave us the gift of Reconciliation for a reason. So we can restore our broken friendship any time we fall. And we do. Often. 🙂 If *you* have more questions about Catholic theology on Reconciliation, please feel free to message me!

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