Cleanliness is Next to Godliness (“Tumultuous” Part 3)
“Cleanliness is Next to Godliness”
That’s in the Bible, right? Well, if it isn’t – it should be.
I think it might be implied.
There are very few things that are more important to me than a clean and orderly home.
As a child, my room was always clean. I tried to bring order to the rest of our home, but my four brothers thwarted me at every turn. I assured anyone who would listen that when I moved out MY home would always be neat. I would never allow MY children to be as messy as my brothers were!
And I did not lie. When I moved into my first little apartment with my cute little dog, I kept that place tidy and spotless. I washed everything at least once a week, whether it needed it or not, including my car and the dog.
There was a place for everything and everything was always in its place. It was perfect!
Well, almost . . . it did get sort of lonely. So I went and got married.
I thought I could have it all. Caleb gave no indication that it would be a problem. Neatness turned out to be a struggle for him, but I let him know how very important this was to me and he worked hard to accommodate my desires.
As the babies arrived, maintaining my standards became more and more difficult . . . especially since I was working full-time.
By the time we had a one-year old and a six-year old and Caleb was working nights, I had learned to relax some of my expectations. And we had a good system going. He would sleep about 8am to 2pm – then get up and do laundry and start dinner. I would get home from work with the kids about 6pm and we spent our evening together; dinner – baths and bed for the kids – pick up toys – clean the kitchen – then off to work he’d go at 11pm.
After a year, he transferred to days. But we were still a team. Our niece once called us penguins because we shared parenting duties.
But when the tumultuous years arrived, it became impossible to maintain order in our home. Caleb was no longer assisting with any of the family responsibilities, I had to do more to help him, there were three kids instead of two, and I thought I might scream if one more person asked me to do one more thing . . . I was operating at full capacity, and more.
There were just not enough hours in a day. While I was working, Caleb was at home taking things apart. I could not clean up his daily handiwork in an evening which would likely include cooking, laundry, paying bills, grocery shopping, and paperwork for an insurance appeal! We might also receive a visit from the police… oh, and don’t forget homework. The kids would need help with their homework!
Besides, Caleb objected to me cleaning up his projects because he was “working on them”.
Letting go of my clean home was devastating for me. I died a little inside every day that I had to face the chaos in my house. I knew I had to accept this reality . . . there was no real alternative. It was just do or die.
Even as I struggled to accept the clutter, I could not just allow our home to become completely overrun and dangerous for the family. I had a responsibility to keep things in check. I had to work for a goal that was realistic and necessary without allowing my real goal to creep in and take over . . . because that was not obtainable and would only lead to anger, despair, and dissatisfaction.
This was not a battle I fought once and then it was over. This was more like the Old Testament stories of the Philistines attacking Israel . . . . they were defeated over and over, but just kept coming back! This neatness thing is so deeply ingrained in me. I constantly struggle with it. If I don’t give it up daily, there will surely be some ugliness!
Of course, there is nothing wrong with a clean and orderly home. But for me it was just too important and God used Caleb’s illness to open my eyes.
These days we have managed to keep the disarray contained in a few “allowed” areas. I still don’t like it, but it has been worse. I just remember, this world is not my home – I’m just passing through.
John 14:2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
I’m pretty sure my mansion is gonna be clean!