My family and I recently experienced an unexpected move. Things were just settling down after another unexpected event, the passing of my father. We had fixed up the school room with a new coat of paint and gotten everything organized.
Then, we learned that the owner of the house we’ve been renting for the past two years since moving to Oklahoma wanted to sell it, so we moved into another development about three minutes away. And for the past couple of weeks, I’ve mainly been consumed with unpacking, organizing, and decorating the new house, trying to get “a place for everything and everything in its place”.
If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know my struggle with anxiety, fear, perfectionism, and allowing myself to rest. Having a neat, orderly home helps me function better. But, there have been moments recently where I found myself turning into a very unpleasant person in the midst of unpacked boxes and unfinished projects.
A lot of moments.
I’ve been short-tempered and irritable with my children, anxious that they would misplace or ruin something I had worked so hard to stage.
Unfortunately I have spent way too much time concerned with the appearance of our new home, instead of the Lord who should be the center of it.
Obviously, my kids are just kids and they shouldn’t be expected to conform to my neurotic standards of cleanliness. My daughter inevitably spilled apple juice all over the nice, clean kitchen floor and table, while my son left a trail of Legos throughout the entire house.
I know that my best laid plans of having a clean, orderly house will continue to be thwarted daily by them. And I need to deal with it.
Taking half the toys out of their bedrooms between school lessons and dumping them right in the neat living room is a hard habit to break. They will both leave a trail of crumbs, food wrappers, and drink cups behind. If they had been walking through the forest in the story Hansel and Gretel, they never would have gotten lost on their way back.
I am the woman in the fairy tale, desperately trying to contain the toys to one room of the house. The one who has three days worth of clean laundry piled up in the basket, begging to be folded. And yes, the one who completely forgets to take the meat out of the freezer for dinner that night.
I’m attempting to somehow attain that mythical house which stays clean while being inhabited by two young children. I fret about the state of my home, believing the lie that it defines who I am.
There’s a familiar story in the Bible that speaks to this very issue. In Luke 10, Jesus comes to dine at Martha and Mary’s house, and Martha is running around making all the preparations and getting upset that her sister is just laying at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him, instead of helping her.
I completely recognize myself in Martha. So caught up in the busyness of maintaining a home that I lose sight of what’s really important: the people in it, and the Lord who gave it to me.
Sometimes I’m so busy being the Mom and the Teacher and the Caregiver… that I forget to just be present with these little ones. To just sit at the feet of Jesus.
But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:42, emphasis mine
He was essentially saying that her priorities were seriously out of order. Homemaking isn’t about preparing a beautiful, tastefully decorated space; it’s about preparing the hearts of those living in it to receive Jesus.
We should be more concerned with creating an environment that reflects God’s love and our love for Him. Above all, our homes should glorify the Lord through our speech, behavior, and activities. We do need to have some rules to protect our financial investment, but it can’t come at the expense of our relationships.
The house cleaning and the dishes and the laundry will always be there, but my children will not always be this small, nor will they always be around.
Someday, though it seems like YEARS from now, they will grow up and move out. And my house will be clean and organized again.
This isn’t to say that I should just neglect our living space, either. Our family needs a safe and relatively clean haven to dwell. However, I can’t make organization my idol or get so wrapped up in having things “just so” that I see my kids only as mess makers instead of the beautiful blessings God has given me.
I need to be content in and grateful for this season of life He has placed me in, even though it may be more disorganized and messy than I would like. Thank goodness the saying “cleanliness is next to godliness” isn’t actually true, right?