Better Half

Family, Life, and Politics from Wifey

Cleanliness next to Godliness? October 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — raitking @ 7:32 pm

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 😉


6 Responses to “Cleanliness next to Godliness?”

  1. emily goff Says:

    so i just realized i have never read your blog. shame on me.
    i have missed out.
    thanks for being so honest and transparent.
    i just want you to know that i am blessed to have you and your family in my life. i adore your children (even if savannah doesn’t like when i come around…lol). you and shaun have done a fantastic job with them. yall are incredible people. and i am so thankful that God led me to Courageous to bring such amazing people into my life at the exact time that i needed it.

    So thanks…for being you. and letting me be a part.
    ps last night i gave the girls a round of applause when they showed me how they cleaned their room was lol 🙂

  2. Shaun King Says:

    I love our house baby! I want you to know that I always love it because YOU are in it. Any mess or clutter doesn’t bother me. You do a GREAT job honey. For real.

    I loved your understanding and analysis. Very insightful.

  3. candice hayes Says:

    Wow, that had to be written for me! That was so on point to so many emotions that I feel on a daily basis. Thank you for sharing and allowing another perspective to take hold of my heart! I will try not to throw as many fits (I can’t promise no fits, but I will aim for less). Again-thank you.

  4. Lynette Says:

    Hey Rai! WOW…….This was SO GOOD! What you’ve expressed are the concern of most moms and wives, and the deeper message in it is so eye-opening. I’ve been battling with having a Clean House for almost 5 years, and the other day, I had a melt down because I just got so sick of how it looks. In my mind, my home has to have EVERYTHING in place, dishes washed, floors mopped, papers filed, rug vacummed, bed made, soren’s toys put away, etc. If not, I tend to feel closed in, dirty, and hardly can rest at night. Notice I said in my MIND I want it this way, because in REALITY it doesn’t happen hardly at all. I’m lucky, If one room stays decent for 2 days! And I realize that it frustrates me SO MUCH to the point where it affects my self esteem as a woman.

    I think you know enough about our story to understand that I could definitely use a change of scenery, more space, etc. It just amazes me how a clean home can really make life seem better. No matter the financial struggles, if I can look around and see and smell “cleanliness” in the air….I’m GOOD! However, this is not what I see or smell. And the thing is, I’m BIG on on smells, because I believe they have a Psychological affect on your day. So, the last thing I want to smell when I walk into the place is Trash that’s been sitting in the kitchen, or the stale smell of laundry that has gone one week too long without being washed.

    Lately, I’ve seriously been bothered at our cleaning habits. I’m like WHAT’S WRONG WITH US? We’re 2 Adults, here! We can’t use Soren as an excuse because it was a problem BEFORE we had the baby. So what’s the excuse? My background and upbringing consisted of a mom who was a clean up maniac! Everyday we cleaned up something, folded clothes and washed the dishes, swept the front porch, etc. I can say that I loved her for it, because at the end of the day she could relax, and so could we. My high school friends still laugh at me because they know I couldn’t go ANYWHERE until my mom’s house was cleaned from the top to bottom, inside and out! Lord, that woman would FIND something that needed cleaning, or organizing, LOL.

    Having said of this, You would think that I would have a spotless home….but I don’t. No matter how hard I try to “get organized” and create “cleaning plans” my house is a mess. I’ve sat down with Starvos in an attempt to have an intervention about the BOTH of us, and how we need to change……and we do change…for revert right back to the same ole habits. URGH! Sometimes it gets to so bad that I’ll go on a Cleaning Fit at like 12am and start throwing clutter off the desk to the floor in one pile( JUST LIKE MY MOM DID) so that I can focus on one spot, and clean it up. Or I’ll start dumping a bunch of stuff on the sofa really fast like a CRAZY LADY to get it cleaned up……….Starvos knows that once I start, I’m not stopping until it’s done.

    I think the most frustrating part about cleaning up, is the MAINTENANCE. For one, we don’t have the proper items we need around the house to make sure that things are contained, and organized nicely so when I clean up, it’s more like “straightening up” until the stuff clutters up again! And let’s not even talk about not having a dishwasher…..Oooh, Child, LOL! Additionally, I hate the idea of spending hours to get a room(s) to look a certain way, only for it to be messed up a few days later…or sometimes less than that! I used to take this very personally, and I too, felt very much disrespected b/c of how things would get so messed up so easily. This is one of the main reasons why I feel as though I have lost a little motivation to keep up the house as often as I truly desire. My husband always tells me that if I lived by myself that I’d be a TOTAL germaphobe, and neat freak….the thought of this(being a neat freak and what not) does not bother me….at least the house would be clean and I can stay relaxed, like you mentioned. However, my house does not reflect that of a woman who likes organization, and may be somewhat of a neat freak. Not to mention that I have picked up some bad habits myself over the years…..ones that my mother would NOT have! As a matter of fact, when she came to visit when I first had Soren, she KEPT the house spotless! It was the most relaxed I had been in a while.

    Overall, I just wanted to tell you that I share in your plight, and experience the same stress that you do in terms of the house cleaning. Your revelation about wanting to look perfect and great is one that I really understand. A HUGE part of my plight is that it makes me feel less than a woman when my home is a mess and disorganized. And I truly believe that your home does reflect what’s going on in your spirit…whether it’s good things or bad. I too have the tracings of woman who wants to be “perfect” in many ways, or at least look like and feeI am. Also, because I am results driven, I like to see the efforts I make around the house actually last or else I feel like a failure.

    ….. I guess because I know that my life is not where I want it to be, that somehow I can compensate by having things look “put together” and perhaps having a clean space may help me convince myself that “Oh, life’s not THAT bad”, lol.

    I just pray that whatever deeper issue is that has caused us to not keep a clean and organized home is addressed. I also need to realize that my home life is more than just a clean house! It’s what love we bring to the home, and have for God and each other. Hope that makes sense……in the meantime, I’ll be in prayer that we can become more comfy with NOT having to be or look perfect.

    Love ya Girlie 🙂

  5. LaVonne Says:

    Amen! Amen! Amen! Thank you for addressing this issue HONESTLY!

  6. Casey Says:

    Amen! I get so stressed when my house is a mess, and before I know anyone is coming to visit or before we go on a vacation I make myself a crazy hot mess trying to make things perfect. I’m so glad I read this today, one of my goals for this awesome new year is to stress less and not sweat the small stuff so much.

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