Car Wash for the Soul

Matthew 16:19 “... Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

It’s been such a long winter in Michigan. So today when the high was 68 degrees and the sun finally came out to say hello, I went to the car wash. I was going to a Communal Penance Service at our parish and I had plenty of time ahead of me. 

As I drove into the car wash and the attendant guided me through the tracks, my mind went back to 16 years ago. I remembered the first car wash with our son, when he was only 2-years-old. 

He got so scared. He would put his hands over his eyes the entire time. It was all too terrifying to look at. 

I entered the car wash. 

As the guys sprayed the water on my car with their long hoses and broomed away at the side doors, I couldn’t help but think of confession. 

This is just like confession, I thought, because Jesus washes away the dirt of our sins jut like this car wash is washing away at the dirt on my car.

The decision to go to confession can be terrifying too.

Yes, I will write about this, I thought. I must share my thoughts.

Proceeding farther down the tracks, the long blue soapy strips of cloth started to paddle over my front window. Even as an adult, these strips still scare me. “What if one of them breaks my windshield? What if my rear view mirrors crack?”

Confession is still sometimes scary too. Going back to the same priest and confessing the same sin over and over again.

Then came the huge, blue brushes on each side of the car, washing away the dirt, bird droppings and mud making room to expose the car’s true color. Jesus shows us the way to find our true colors too.

My favorite part of the car wash comes at the end, when the wind sucks up each drop of water getting ready for the final cloth dry.

Jesus’ mercy is like that wind, sucking up the remnants of our guilt, shame and unworthiness.

The tower of different colored lights-yellow, orange, green, the end with a sign and a smiley face reads “have a nice day.”

Upon seeing this, I remembered how Jesus longs for us to come to him to wipe us clean. To create in us a new mind and a new heart and a new vision. That would surely make for a nice day.

I approached the guy who’s going to cloth dry my car. His smile was brilliant. I smiled back and gave him a tip. I immediately noticed he was wearing a miraculous medal of the Blessed Virgin Mary around his neck. She is the Mother of Mercy itself, I thought. 

I left the car wash after another huge smile from the young man.

Driving to Church, I felt relieved and fresh being able to see much better through my windshield. 

Then I thought, my car will not stay clean for long. Just like me and my sins, I will need to come here again to go through the wash. I will always be in need of returning again and again to confession to be wiped clean.

The beauty of mercy is that is unfathomable and unending.

At the Communal Penance Service, the priest talked about humility. I loved his message so much that I took notes.

This is the same priest who I went to for confession about a month ago. I must choose a different priest this time, I thought. Because I failed at overcoming a vice we discussed last month and I will be so reluctant and ashamed to admit this to him.

I waited in line for over half an hour for a different priest. The rosary I prayed while I waited brought me much peace. In the meantime, someone mentioned there is only one person left in the line I was avoiding. I still had 5 people ahead of me.

I immediately got a nudge in my soul. Like a gentle push. Like a whisper in my ear. “Go, go there. It’s ok. This was My plan all along.” I found myself smiling from ear to ear as I walked over to that same priest, trusting Jesus leading me.

It turned out to be incredible! We laughed....a lot. I told him how much I loved his talk about humility. After confessing the hardest sin, the old vice I couldn’t overcome, he reminded me that part of humility is being able to laugh at ourselves. 

I drove home feeling relieved, grateful, happy, lighter, and cleaner.

When I arrived home, our teenage daughter shared a Snapchat she got from her aunt. Our daughter had no idea what happened to me earlier that day in the car wash.

As she grabbed her phone to show me the video, she says, “You’ve got to see this mom. It’s from Traci. It’s Manny going through the car wash for the first time.” 

The video shows a frightened Manny, who is now 2 years old, with his hands tightly over his eyes. His mom is encouraging him to open his eyes but he refuses because he is so terrified.

I got chills up and down my spine having received a signal grace from the Holy Spirit. I had gone through the car wash at 6:42pm that day and Traci went through it with her son at 6:18pm.

I shared my car wash experience with our daughter, to which she responded, “Wow, God is so good!”

About the author
Iklas is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a Life Breakthrough Coach.  Since 2003, she has worked with individuals, couples, parents, teens, families, and groups, journeying with them to work through the obstacles that stand in the way of discovering their God given identity and purpose in life. Her greatest passion is watching others unfold as they become who they are called to be, create more balance in their lives, improve relationships, and reach their goals.

Iklas is also a writer, speaker, and Co-host of Invitation to Sisterhood aired on Catholic television. Contact her at to share your thoughts or schedule an appointment.