It started as an ordinary laundry day.
I separated the darks from the lights. Glanced for stains and felt for pocketed tissues.
Added detergent. Spun the dial to “Normal.” Pushed the button. Moved on to the next chore of the day.
Fifty minutes later the spin cycle stopped. I lifted the lid to transfer our clothes to the dryer. The scene inside the washer looked, um, odd. The fabric lay in contorted angles. I pulled a shirt out. Its left sleeve was stuck to a pair of shorts which was stuck to a t-shirt which was stuck to itself and to my pants and so on and so on and so on. To my horror, I realized errant velcro was not the culprit… it was chewing gum!!!! UGH!!!
Someone had left a package of gum in his pocket. I missed it in my pocket clean-out. The gum wrappers dissolved in the washer water. Then the gum did what gum does: created a chewy, sticky mess!! Over a dozen items in that wash load had wads in multiple places.
Oh my goodness! Every piece of clothing seemed forever ruined.
I forced a pause in the panic…
Then I spent some quality time with my friend Google. Do you know how many gum removal options exist? Over the next several days, I tried every solution offered (rubbing alcohol, freezing, nail polish remover, hair spray, WD40, etc). Most were a bust! But I did find a system that worked best for our clothes: Apply Goof Off, let dry, remove remainder with duct tape.
My lengthy and unwanted experiment with chewing gum removal resulted in new knowledge. Ok, so I hope that I’ll never need to use it again but if I do or you do, we’ll both be ready!
Interestingly, my trivial laundry failure brought me an unexpected lesson for life’s bigger failures. While chewing gum in a washing machine is an obnoxious pain, other personal failures loomed larger. Lack of understanding and bad judgment led to poor decisions. Large purchases added to already overloaded credit card bills. Overcommitment resulted in an embarrassing withdrawal from a leadership position. Ugh. Stress mounted.
Nobody chooses failure. But we find ourselves in situations everyday that need remedies from our moments of failure.
While working my way through the internet’s wisdom on chewing gum removal, I discovered a gem of truth: Perseverance matters.
Each day I discovered more ways that did NOT remove the gum. But I persisted. After about 12 different attempts (no kidding!), I found the answer! All of our clothes survived. All were fully restored to their pre-sticky status. Victory finally achieved!
This simple lesson of perseverance continues to remind me that sometimes a solution is long in coming. The resulting lengthy journey can be the greatest benefit. Scripture repeatedly extols the virtue of patience gained in perseverance. Paul reminds us how it builds character (Romans 5:3-4). James says we are blessed as we persevere (James 1:12). Even King David reminds us to keep moving forward (Psalm 23:4).
Next time Failure Strikes
Take a breath.
Look around at options. Seek counsel.
Then move forward.
Do not allow failure to immobilize you. Consider it an opportunity to learn something new!