Friday, November 06, 2009

On cleaning house, in everything giving thanks-6

I've been cleaning house today. I'll be honest with you, nothing makes me hate myself more than cleaning house. I'm no housekeeper, not by any stretch of the imagination, and on those occasions I do clean and thus come face to face (sometimes literally) with the dirt and grime I've allowed to build up, well, it makes me despise myself (more so than usual, that is).

Today is no different. As I've sped through the house in a mad frenzy of vacuuming, dusting, and squirting cleaner on the bathroom surfaces, I've battled the same old frustration and self degradation. You would think that finally doing something about it (already), thus gaining some sort of victory over the mess and the clutter, however short lived, would make me feel better. It doesn't. I know even as I wipe and scrub that I've by no means tackled the real issue.

What, exactly, is the real issue, I'm not real sure. Pick one or more of the following: Lack of organization. Procrastination. No discipline. Distractions (like blogging, for instance, ahem). Or maybe clean house nirvana is only a useless striving after the wind; I mean, is my worth as a woman and follower of Christ really measured by dusting my baseboards weekly? There is a fine line between being a good and careful steward of my home--of serving the Lord by being busy at home--and making everyone miserable by pursuing some impossibly high OCD type standard.

Not that I'm in any danger of pursuing some impossibly high OCD type standard. I'm speaking theoretically here, of course.

Please don't get the wrong impression. Our home is not unsanitary. It is more cluttered than it is filthy (baseboards not included). And while I struggle with finding the proper balance (and corresponding discipline and organization), I remain grateful, glad for a home, my home, as dirty and disheveled as it may be.

And that's the point of this long rambling, slightly self indulgent post. Today I clean house and though I am tempted to indulge in self indictment I will instead be thankful. I will thank God for His gracious provision in giving me a home to clean and a family to care for and serve by washing their clothes and cooking their supper and washing their dishes and, yes, cleaning their bathrooms. Our mess is a holy mess because it is evidence of the Lord's blessing to me: five people I love more than any others and whose care has been entrusted to me, however imperfectly I may do so.

I am thankful for my home and the privilege to clean it.


  1. "Our mess is a holy mess." I like that. :-) I struggle with finding balance, too. I want clean, but I also want me (and my family) to do life in this house. Sounds like you're on the right track.

  2. Thankful for our home, too, and for the people living in it. Thanks for the perspective.

  3. Clean is relative in this house. Our baseboards get cleaned once a year. The carpet cleaner guy runs an attachment over them for me.

    Thankfully, the kids are able to help more and more the older they get! They BOTH cleaned the toilet last week - Pinkgirl the inside, FavoriteSon the outside - and the most amazing part about that? They didn't bicker or grouse about it!!!

  4. I think one of the "ah-ha" moments for me was when one friend came over and I started fussing about all the things that were out of place...and she said, "I didn't come to see your house, I came to see YOU!"

    And the second one happened for me when a friend told me, "I love it that it's not the end of the world when a pile happens...or clutter happens in your will make it more appealing to your kids' friends since they don't have to tip toe everywhere and worry about messing it up."

    Again, not that it's a dump....just lived in. And that's now OK with me.



  5. I gave up guilt on housecleaning some years ago. And there would be a lot to be guilty about for I am no Merry Maid. I tackle the top layer of grime and include the boys in helping keep the chaos to a low hum. It works for us. And as Lisa Notes said, we chose to do life in this house. Life it is, spic and span it is not.

  6. I try to remember Bro. Lawrence's words when it's cleaning time at my house, "Lord of all pots and pans and things, Since I've no time to be
    A saint by doing lovely things or
    Watching late with thee, Or dreaming in the twilight or Storming heaven's gates. Make me a saint by getting meals or Washing up the plates." Thanks for be thankful, and reminding all of us to be thankful!

  7. I relate to this post 100% -- from the usual feelings of self hatred, to the feeling like a not-very-great house-cleaner... to being immeasurably thankful for our home.

    I did a bunch of cleaning this week and my emotions ran the gamut. Sigh... I'm sure they will next week too. But I'd like to try to focus them on the blessing our house is and the privilege I have of caring for my family by keeping our home comfortable.

    Dusting baseboards? That never quite makes it onto my list...

  8. My motto: clean enough to be healthy, messy enough to be comfy.

    I think we all put too much pressure on ourselves to keep a clean house. First we have to define what our version of clean is!

  9. Thankful for our home, too, and for the people living in it. Thanks for the perspective.