>My Soul’s Dirty Underwear

>Today’s post is in honor of my friend Nancy Owens Franson, who turns fifty tomorrow, and is looking forward to becoming officially eccentric.

Dirty Sky. Mojave Desert. February, 2007.
Mom’s Notorious Advice

Apparently, somewhere along the way, someone’s mother counseled:

Always wear clean underwear. Because you never know when you might be in an accident and you wouldn’t want the doctors to see you in dirty underwear.

That’s the story, anyway. But I don’t believe it, for three reasons.

First, I don’t recall my mother ever offering me this advice. In my own informal poll, everyone I asked recognized this bit of Classical Mom Wisdom—but nobody’s mom had actually said it to her.

Second, in all the realistic television medical dramas I’ve watched–and I was an  ER devotee, back in the day–I never heard the doctor say: “Treat this one first. He’s wearing clean underwear.”

Finally, as a mom, I didn’t tell my daughter to wear clean underwear. By the time she was old enough to dress herself, she’d absorbed the concept of wearing clean clothes right alongside understanding that seams belong on the inside, buttons need buttoning, and socks go on feet.

Maybe I should ask snopes.com to investigate. Or Mythbusters. Is there any compelling evidence that a real mother ever told her children to wear clean underwear for the sake of hypothetical emergency room staff?

So why does this apocryphal tale of maternal advice endure?

I think the story lives because it’s an allegory for the state of our souls.

Things I think are hidden from public view–like my underwear, and my soul–could suddenly, when I least expect it, be exposed.

So if I don’t want to get caught dirty, I’d better keep things clean. Just in case.

The problem is, my soul was born in dirty underwear, as it were. And all my scrubbing and soaking and bleaching and striving won’t render them clean.

I can’t clean up the dirt.

But Christ did. His love, His sacrifice, His blood washes away even the most persistent stain.

And all I had to do was ask.

So tell me: Did your mother ever warn you to always wear clean underwear? Have you asked for a clean pair for your soul?

6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
1 John 1:6-10 (NASB)