I really don’t like housecleaning. When I think about it, it’s not really the actual cleaning that bothers me, it’s that by the time I have finished doing the dishes and picking up everything off the floor, I am done. I no longer have the energy or interest or self-discipline to clean the sink or vacuum the rug. I avoid it, I procrastinate, I hire a friend to clean.
I cannot remember the last time I made my bed (sorry, babe). I have read blogs and collected tips on Pinterest and made cleaning schedules for myself. I have tried cleaning one hour every day, as well as saving it all up for one marathon cleaning day each week. I have not been able to maintain any of those ideas. I do well for a while, then I start to remember how much I like doing almost anything else, and I start rationalizing, and before I know it I feel condemnation and shame. “Well, So-and-So’s house never looks like this when I come over!”
I sink into a bit of a funk and give up pretty much altogether. How many of you can testify to how motivating shame and condemnation is? Exactly. That seems to ultimately be where I end up each time. It will probably never be my strength; I may never have total complete victory over it. But I feel far more peaceful and free when I remember that I am not being graded by my Father for my housekeeping skills, or lack thereof.
I have to remind myself on a regular basis that He loves me, and my family loves me, and in whatever way I can show honor and love to them on this day can just come from my heart. Some days that will mean clean underwear and no hair in the sink; other days it will just mean I gave them a hug and a kiss and got dinner on the table. I find this verse helps: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
I would like to point out that this is not an exhaustive list of all the things that cannot separate us from the love of God. “Nothing” pretty much means nothing. I looked it up. Most days, NOTHING is just what I am struggling with most.
- My quick temper and tendency to raise my voice will not separate me from Him.
- My desire to get out of serving my children today will not separate me from Him.
- My bad attitude toward housework will not separate me from Him.
- My tendency to compare my performance as a mom with others will not separate me from Him. It might make me miserable, but it will not keep me from Him.
When I stay awake to the reality of grace, it frees me to respond to my husbands, kids, friends and neighbors in love. I do not have to prove anything, I do not need to demand my own way, I do not have to take offense and then act out hurtfully because of my pride. At times I still will, because I am a weak vessel who is prone to sin and selfishness. But my God responds to my failure with mercy, grace, and love. He calls me beloved and beautiful daughter. Not disappointing. Never not good enough. I am hidden in Christ, who was perfect for me.
Will I try not to do these things? Of course, but I am just being real. And hopefully, with the Lord’s help, each time I sin against my family, I will be humble enough to ask for forgiveness, to try to bind up the wound I have created, and point to the Savior who I need so desperately. My kids don’t need me to perfect, they need to know that is not an option OR an expectation for any of us. They need to see me blow it and then acknowledge it. They need to see me receive the Lord’s kindness and mercy, be incredibly thankful that the price of sin has been paid on my behalf, and get back up again. This is what they need from me, which is lucky, because from an eternal perspective, it is really all I have to offer!
I (seem to always) love what Ann Voskamp says about keeping it real. I leave you with these wise and wonderful words . . .
We are women who live the Gospel of Grace and we’re done with perfection because we’re the Everyday Prodigals who are wasteful in love and extravagant in grace and recklessly spending our attention on the mercies of the Prodigal God. God wants Prodigal Parents — not perfect parents. Lavish in love, extravagant in truth, big spenders of grace.
And there will be tears and there will be laughter — because what messes our life up most — is the expectation of what our life is supposed to look like — and there will be a mess of dishes in the sink and a ring of grime in the bathtub and the clock will just keep on ticking and we’ll grab onto someone right in the kitchen and just hold on and let go. It won’t be perfect — but we’ll be prodigals.