Sunday, April 12, 2015

Meditations on Housework

So the new house has much better carpet than the old one. Its newer, higher quality, and specifically designed so the dirt doesn't show (much). And the layout is such that the inevitable spills from every single meal are not immediately tracked into the living room where any casual visitor can be grossed out by our mess.

The result is that I don't vacuum as often as I used to. (Throwing up several times a day may have something to do with it as well.)

At first I thought it was great, because who needs more work, right?

Another fun thing: there are lots of weeds around the house and on the kids' route to school - the prickly kind, where the stickers cling to your shoes and then drop off other places - like the living room.

You've probably encountered these before. According to my extensive five minute google search, this is goathead, or puncturevine, and it lives to torture feet. They're everywhere around here and now, thanks to my lax housekeeping, all over the house.

Stepping on one of these is worse than stepping on a lego! So bad. And I feel especially terrible when I have to pick them out of tiny toddler feet. Its entirely my fault. Can I really not spare five minutes to vacuum the entryway every couple of days? (Sometimes I really can't. But I'm not the only one in the house who can cover this chore - I just have to remind them)

But I was thinking about the simple, everyday things I need to do to keep my inner self clean. Thoughtful prayer, scripture study, making time for my husband, all of these are a little like vacuuming. Nobody who visits my house can tell if I'm keeping up with those things. Only those people I live with, who take off their shoes and get comfy. They are the ones who are hurt by my neglect of my own spirit. They are the ones who are stabbed by the barbs of my attitude and frustration, by my lack of patience because I thought I was too busy to take ten minutes to talk to God and ask for his help in my day.  And myself, of course. I am not immune to my own negligence.

I'm not perfect at this. And even when I make time to listen to Husband and nurture our love, and make sure I spend part of my day in devotional and prayer, I still mess up and lose my temper and make my own life more complicated than it needs to be. 

Those tiny little barbs are not going to kill anyone. In the grand scheme of things stepping on a little thorn isn't going to ruin anything. You won't even need a bandaid. (Though if you are one of my children you will ask for one anyway.) And there is no way I could get rid of all the weeds in the universe even if I wanted to, and no way I can stop them from occasionally getting tracked into the house. I don't have control in the rest of the world. And occasionally having to deal with someone else's bad day isn't going to ruin you either. 

But in my house I am the queen. The boss-in-charge-of-it-all, and if I decide to clean up then I can. Its as simple as that. If I decide that I want our house to be safe from those little, painful barbs, then I can make it so. 

So that my family will want to come in and take off their shoes and get comfy. So that here, in this place, you are safe.  Even from simple little hurts. We vacuum up as many as we can before they can bother anyone and get rid of the occasional thorn that makes its way in as quickly as possible. With a kiss and a bandaid if it helps.

Simple things really can be that important. Prayer for example. You may be able to go weeks and even years without praying and not even realize how it is hurting yourself and those close to you. And maybe you will decide to just keep your shoes on all the time, to ignore how it feels to walk through the thorns. But that requires never getting comfy with your own feelings, and not letting anyone around you be safe with their spiritual feelings either, for fear of the barbs you are leaving for them.

In fact, I will go so far as to say that prayer is even more powerful than that. We're talking life-changing, earth-shattering power. Way more important and way more influential than one small weed could ever hope to be. I know this for sure. I have tried it in my own life. And failed at keeping up with it and tried again. Its a process. And like cleaning the house, it is never really going to end, because we continue to live here. But it does get easier. And better.

It doesn't matter so much what you say or how you say it. But I will say that for me, simply meditating and trying to clear my mind is not enough. I need the words. I need to talk aloud and say what I'm thinking - all of what I'm thinking, even when what I'm thinking is, "Man, I'm really distracted by that TV show I watched earlier." 

And I've found that God isn't picky with how he is addressed either. God, Allah, Heavenly Father, Supreme Creator of the Universe, or even Hey, you, power-that-I-don't-understand, all get you to the same place. He knows who he is. And more importantly, he knows who you are. And he is never too busy to listen. 

My mind tends to wander when I clean, thanks for following along with me, I may have gotten off on a tangent or two. I'll end with a quote from The Screwtape Letters, by CS Lewis. 

"Whenever there is prayer, there is danger of his own immediate action. He is cynically indifferent to the dignity of his position... and to human animals on their knees he pours out self-knowledge in a quite shameless fashion."


Megan said...

Good reminder.

Debbie said...

Wonderful thoughts! You're awesome! Hope you're feeling great and life is still good. XOXO