Friday, May 21, 2010

clean house

I have always imagined I would be the kind of woman with a tidy home that was ready for drop-in visitors at any given moment. Someone whose bed is always made, whose dishes are always done, and whose living room looks lived in, yet orderly at the same time. Ha!

It is disappointing that my "new" house doesn't stay any cleaner than my old house. Instead, it seems that pieces of small rocks and sand stick to my feet when I walk across our wooden floors. Articles of clothing are strewn about on every available chair. And the only "always" about the mess in my home, is in reference to the small barn animals that are always somewhere they shouldn't be... like on the kitchen rug and in the middle of the hallway, not to mention window sills and in between couch cushions.

Various degrees of frustration consume me regarding the state of my home. And I wonder, why does the mess occupy so much of my time, my energy, and my thought life? God must feel this way about us sometimes. So much of his energy goes towards cleaning us up, because frankly, a lot of us are a real mess.

Someone once challenged me to spend as much of my time reading my Bible and praying as I did getting ready in the morning. The point was to get my internal self ready for the day, just as I did my external self. Although I don't actually spend that much time getting ready in the morning now that I have a toddler on the loose, I do spend time and energy fretting about the condition of my home. Isn't that the same thing? It is placing value in my appearance rather than the condition of my heart.

It helps to consider the implications this may have on my daughter. We aren't really sure how much toddlers remember, but I know from experience it must be a whole lot more than they let on. It seems to me their memory is selective, remembering things that made a particular impression... like the time we found Annike poking at a bee with a stick, and made sure she learned that bees can give you owies. She says "owie" every time she sees one now. Or the way she has learned to pat my back when she hugs me, because that is what we do when we hug her.

In the end, I am not sure having a clean house makes any impression upon her at all. And if there is an impression made when I am in a cleaning frenzy, it might be that vacuuming is more important than spending time with her. Or worse, that appearances matter more in life than who we are on the inside. And when I allow the disastrous state of my home to get to me, my inside person is not particularly nice.

Just to clarify, I am not talking about allowing my family to live in a pig-sty. I simply recognize the need for balance in my life in allowing a messy house to strip me of my ability to have a healthy attitude. What's more important: having a clean house or a clean heart? I know the right answer, but I want to live it too.

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