As I look around my house each day, I am astonished at the mess. I love cleanliness. Clutter and mess drive me crazy. I get nervous, anxious, stressed, and overall pissed off at the site of a dirty house (well, my dirty house…I don’t care too much about anyone else’s).
My greatest skill as a homemaker (not counting Mom or wife stuff) is organizing. The Container Store is hands down in my top 3 of favorite stores (second only to Target). I like boxes of every shape, size, and construction. If I could, I’d have a box, bag, shelf, and container for EVERYTHING. And honestly, I almost do…and herein lies the problem: the word ALMOST.
I am discovering that no matter how hard I try, everything is never in it’s right place. As a matter of fact, these days it’s more like NOTHING is in it’s right place. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to manage the sheer volume of stuff my family of 7 produces. Despite my best efforts, my schooling desk is always a mess. There are always crayons on the floor, papers on the counters, clothes on the steps, bags on the floor, etc.
The stress of it all is enough to turn me into that big, green monster the Incredible Hulk. Unfortunately, I’ve thrown many a fit over what I perceive as a total lack of regard and respect for me and the way I like things done. The offenders are my husband and 5 children. So often they have been the object of my wrath over the messy house.
But now I’m taking a step back to examine it all. I’m realizing that this is a serious issue. And it’s MY issue. Are they slobs? Probably. Are they careless with some of their belongings? No doubt. But am I justified in going into a crazy rage over it? Of course not. What I’ve been perceiving as a slight against me, is really just a difference of priorities. Of course children don’t care about the state of the room they live in. They are completely content to live in a pig sty. They’re children. And Shaun could care less about the pile of clothes mounting next to his side of the bed. Is he helping to save babies in Haiti? Is he pouring his heart into being the best Pastor he knows how? That’s really all he truly cares about.
So the question is, why do I care so much? I think I know. Two words. PRIDE and VANITY. Everything about my house must be “just so.” It shows that I’m perfect and great. It shows that I have class and style, and am above reproach. What bad could anyone possibly have to say about me with a home that is as well run and as put together as mine is? But it ISN’T perfect, and it’s not always well-run, and there are probably more things wrong than right. Honestly, my house is full of mess and clutter. The garage, the playroom, the kids’ room…these are NEVER clean. And because I take it as a personal offense, as a personal account of my own worth and abilities, I loose it over the smallest things-an unwiped counter or a pair of pants left on the floor.
It’s a terrible dichotomy. Having a perfectly put together house makes me perfect but my house is never perfectly put together. So I’m not perfect and I’m mad about it. I’m a big ball of stress around the house, because all I can see is what’s wrong with it. I keep striving for this day when everything will be as it should (all the laundry is done, every bathroom is clean, the closets are organized and alphabetized), then I can relax. But in 9 years of marriage and children that day has NEVER come, and so I’m NEVER relaxed. How crazy is that?
I’m stuck on appearances and not what’s on the inside. Even houses that appear clean, can be full of germs and disease-both literally and figuratively. And having a clean house only shows the world the surface of who I am. It still can’t hide my internal sin condition.
This isn’t just my issue though. It was given to me-passed on to me from people like my grandmother and aunt. I think they coined the phrase “cleanliness is next to Godliness” and the Arm and Hammer man was their priest! I swear their houses were always so clean you could eat off of the floor. And they’d come to your house and give it the “white glove” once over. If it was clean, you got tons of praise. If it was a mess, they shook their heads, put their noses in the air, and pretty much refused to come over again. God knows I love them (my Nana is in heaven now, which I KNOW is clean…lol). But I now realize that this thing they have given me is not healthy. My Nana was tormented on the inside by the demons of her past (molestation, infidelity, dead children), and I think having a perfect house made her feel she had something she could control. I react to the world in the same way. When something in my world is upsetting, I clean.
What I see now though, is that if my house is a mess it’s because I chose to spend the day educating my kids, or relaxing with a husband I love, or because I’ve given love and dedication to church and friends. This is the true measure of my value and worth…what I’ve given my time and energy to. I’d much rather die with a full heart that has made others full as well than a clean house (that is sure to be dirty again after I die anyway if Shaun and the kids are still living in it 😉