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The older I get it seems that I wash my hands more often. Part of me washing my hands more often as an adult is due to the fact that I realize how many people do not wash theirs! This, in short, means that everything I touch, including other people’s hands, is probably infested with germs. I have never thought of myself as a germ-a-phoebe… but I am beginning to rethink that notion. Maybe my extreme hand washing is part of why I stay so healthy though.

I know that the anti-bacterial gels and lotions and sprays are all the rage, but I personally think good old-fashioned hot water and soap do a better and more thorough job. Plus, the alcohol in the anti-bacterial products smell pretty bad and it is very drying to my tender skin. Sometimes the old way of doing things is the better way, even though it is not the most convenient. The gel seems more like a Band-Aid than really getting to the dirt of things.

Washing my hands and having my children wash their hands is very satisfying. Can you relate? I have never liked seeing and touching and playing with a sticky, drippy, dirty kid. I feel better when my kids are clean. I always have them take a bath or shower before bed to wash the day away. I feel like they sleep better, as I do when I am clean. Plus, who wants to get into a clean bed with the sweat and dirt of the day on you? Now… that’s assuming you launder your bed sheets!

“Washing your hands” has another meaning to it: Washing your hands of somebody or something means that you stop being involved with or responsible for someone or something, usually because they have caused too many problems for you.

How many of us have washed our hands of people or situations in our lives that have not served us well? How many of us would love to wash our hands of some friends or family members who have wronged us or taken advantage of us? In the past, I have had to wash my hands of some relationships that were more draining than healthy. It is not always an easy thing to do, but sometimes it is necessary.

Sometimes it is easier to stay in a relationship that is not serving you because you don’t want to “rock the boat”. But that is ultimately not serving you or the other person. Being honest with yourself and others sometimes means that you have to wash your hands of them. You need to rid yourself of the germs in your life, just like a good hand washing! I know too many people who stay in relationships because they are “comfortable”, not because it is a healthy and symbiotic relationship. This accounts for friendships, business associates, romantic relationships and even marriages.

Just like when you don’t wash your hands and you, therefore, spread germs to other people… when you hang around unhealthy people, they spread their negativity and unhealthy ways to you and others. You eventually will begin to spread the germs as well, because you will be infected. Just as we need to model for and teach our children how to wash their hands, we also need to model and teach them how to wash their hands of an infectious person. If they see you in a relationship that is not healthy, they will, in turn, get involved with friends who don’t treat them well. Washing your hands of these harmful people is a great way to set healthy boundaries for yourself and your children.

Proverbs 22:24-25
Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man,
do not associate with one easily angered,
or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.

This Proverb, of course, is referring to us not hanging out with someone who gets angry and has a bad temper… but we can easily replace “anger” with a number of negative, contagious traits: rude, mean, bossy, controlling, shifty, negative, nasty, conceited, dishonest, thief, cheater, inconsiderate, greedy, arrogant, grouchy, cruel, demanding, jealous, spoiled, untrustworthy… and on and on.

If you constantly rub your eyes with dirty and germy hands, what do you think will happen? Yes, you will get an eye infection. The same goes for not washing your hands of the nasty relationships in your life: Your eyes will cloud over. You will begin to think that their dysfunctional behavior is normal and appropriate, and you will soon fit right in. Just as not washing your hands can spread infection, not washing your hands of a negative influence can spread contamination. You know what I mean by this, don’t you? Some people contaminate others and the environment with their words and actions.

Take Action: This week and beyond, let’s wash our hands more often than not, to help keep us healthy and germ-free. Let’s also wash our hands of an unhealthy relationship that has contaminated us. Let’s take a good look at ourselves, and make sure we are not the ones spreading the germs!

Because Together is Better