She plopped down on the couch, readjusting the the throw pillow she knocked out of place. That was the end of it. The whole first floor was immaculately clean. Martha Stewart couldn’t have found a way to make it more spotless. She looked down at the phone in her hand. “I just loaded the kids in the car. We will be home in less than thirty minutes.”
Less than thirty minutes, and her immaculate home would be stormed by her three beautiful children. Less than thirty minutes, and the first floor would no longer be immaculate. She let out a long breath. Why did she even bother? Her hubby graciously took the kids to the playground while she got some much needed cleaning done. In several minutes the kids would come home and the house would be a wreck again before she could say, “Wipe your feet,” or “Don’t empty that box of Legos on the ground!” Her children weren’t bad; they were just, well, children.
It seemed that the work she put into her home was never enough to keep up with the messes. No matter how much picking-up, organizing, sweeping, and mopping she did on Monday, there was still more work to be done come Tuesday. Some days it just seemed so worthless to pick up the same toys she picked up yesterday, with the knowledge that she would probably pick up those same toys again tomorrow.
Do you ever feel like the mama described above? I want to suggest to you several things you can remember to help you find peace in the never ending cleaning cycle.
It really is better than it was before.
In all likelihood if our imagined mama in the first paragraphs really spent three hours cleaning the house, she probably accomplished quite a bit. If she picked up the toys and vacuumed the floor in the living room, it might get covered in toys again in half an hour, but the dust and dirt she removed with the vacuum will stay off the floor for quite a while. Her children now have a dirt-free play area to enjoy for some time to come.
Another example that comes to mind immediately is the kitchen. When I start cooking I always clean the kitchen first. And then when I finish cooking I clean it again. Sometimes the first cleaning seems silly knowing that I will be cleaning the kitchen again in 30 minutes. Really though, the first cleaning it not lost. In my opinion it is SO much easier to pick up two small messes than one big mess.
Beauty is beauty, even if it is only visible for a short time.
The value of cleanliness, beauty, and the like are not contained in the time they are visible. A butterfly flitting across your line of view at the park is no less beautiful than the patch of flowers that will last for months. You cannot say that because something only lasts for a short period of time before it needs maintenance that this means it is less beautiful than something that doesn’t need maintenance to stay beautiful.
What about cleaning up before guests come over? I’ve met some people who somehow seemed to think that if their house was usually dirty, it was “superficial” to clean up for company. They felt like they were somehow hiding the real them. This is silly to me. While of course we don’t want to be putting on masks when we present ourselves to the world, it is a very different matter to be putting your best foot forward. Just because something isn’t part of our everyday life doesn’t mean it is something we are incapable of. Look at your heart. There is a big difference between, “Oh, Amanda and Nate are coming over for dinner. I’d better pick up a bit so they’ll be comfortable while they’re here,” and, “Oh, no, my college roommate is coming over for dinner. She has a high paying job and I know she hires a maid service. I’d better clean up so she doesn’t think she has a better life than I do.” What is your motivation?
As Christians we are called to be reforming the world.
Christians are not put here on earth to be consumers, but producers. You are here for one thing and one thing only. To bring God glory. Do you have a home? Do you think that you are presenting that home in a way that brings glory to Christ? Are you using the resources given to you in a grateful way?
Maybe I’m alone in this belief, but I firmly believe that God is glorified in even the most simple acts of subduing the earth. Before the fall Adam and Eve were commanded to care for The Garden Of Eden. Work was given to us before the fall; it is not an inferior task in some way. Our work is pleasing to the Lord. Our simple cultivation of what’s in front of us is something that I believe God desires. How does it present the name of Christ to the world if our homes say, “I don’t care anymore. I will never be good enough to keep this habitation up to my standards, so why try?” When we present the name of Christ to the world, (which we are doing all the time, by the way) we should be presenting a name of triumph and victory, not of fear and “less-thans.” With the love of Christ you have everything you need to victoriously conquer.
With all that said, I just have one more thing to tell you. Don’t beat yourself up. Your worth is not defined in your ability to keep house, mop a floor, or entertain guests. All that matters is if you are doing your best for Christ. Is your kitchen floor filthy because you spent the day watching Netflix, or because a friend called you crying and needed a listening ear? Because you spent the afternoon playing with your babies, or because you whittled away your time window shopping on Zulily? Just remember Colossians 3:17. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
I’ll leave you with a quote I first read in an Elizabeth George book,
never let it rest,
until your good is better,
and your better best.