Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cleaning up the "real" messes

Last night I was able to sneak away for a few moments. It wasn't far just a few steps from the rest of the house to the comforts of my bedroom. Everyone seemed occupied doing something (or so I thought) and I was hoping to grab a few moments to spend quietly. I put my pajamas on, pulled back the comforter on my bed, gathered my notebook, bible, prayer journal, and a large stack of books. It wasn't long before my time was interrupted by a curious child or two.


Of course, I still didn't get much written down on paper but again had another opportunity to think about what I want my home to reflect. My home is in motion, continually changing with constant activity. Like so many other women, I feel some days like I have reduced myself to nothing more than a maid, chef, administrator of the family calendar, bookkeeper to the family budget, organizer of all things big and small, and the official chauffeur. The world would have me believe my work at home is monotonous and something anyone could manage. After all, it doesn't take brains to wash dishes, vacuum floors, and fold laundry. But this view of homemaking presents us with the physical structure alone and leaves out the heart of what takes place within its walls.

Too often I have reduced the meaning of my home to a chore list. I fail to see the incredible role and the influence I have been given and the value of my own work.

Much of the noise and craziness of daily life in our house does come from the banging of dishes in the sink or the hum of the washing machine. But there is more going on than meets the eye. Why are the dishes dirty to begin with? Because our family has just finished a meal together, discussing and laughing over the day's happenings. Jennie Chancey in an article from 2004 titled, The Labor of the Home says this:


"The day to day cleaning, scrubbing, washing and putting away come because there is life in our house. People live here, learning, growing, and praying together. More to the point, sinners live here, all of them in need of daily grace, instruction, exhortation, and encouragement. Sinners make messes, and I don't just mean the Cheerios on the floor or the muddy prints on the wall. I mean the messes of hurt feelings, broken promises, "forgotten" tasks, words spoken in anger. Here is where the real labor of the home is found - the labor we cannot afford to neglect. Unwashed dishes aren't going to rise up in revolt by nightfall, but a fool left in his folly can do damage for generations."

I am often distracted by so many of the things that are needed to be done in order to keep my home in motion, that I don't always take adequate time to look at the "real" messes around me. So, I ask myself where are the biggest messes? What child needs instruction in what areas? Who needs encouragement? How can I more effectively point them to Christ? It is not a monumental task that takes deep theology and articulate speech. It comes through the simple daily things we encounter as we go about our day.

13 comments:

Heth said...

You are speaking directly to my heart. What an encouraging word this was. Thank you Chris.

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

This post affirms what I've been feeling in my heart lately about working to make my home a haven and place of love for our family. Often I've felt like we've done more living OUTSIDE of our home than INSIDE it, and I want to change that. Sometimes it's a challenge not to get mired down in the day-to-day of laundry and dishes...you've given me a great reminder to look beyond the physical and see how God is blessing through the "messing"!

Diana said...

Thank you, Chris. It's so good to be reminded of the value of my life choice. Even after they begin to leave the home, I find it remains for them a refuge, and I am still needed now and then in their lives, when they call for advice or just a recipe, all they really want is to be connected to the wild, chaotic, hectic place they remember was full of peace.

Kim said...

Yes! The messes in our home are from wonderful blessings of life and fun times together! I must always be thinking along the lines of thankfulness so my job is wonderful and not a list of chores.

Our home is full,fun and messy at times...but it is life and we are trying to live to the fullest!

Mocha with Linda said...

Wow, that was great. Thanks for reminding me to see the big picture. Sometimes life just gets so daily that it's hard not to get bogged down in the minutiae.

Christine said...

I want something on my wall that says, "Sinners live here!" That just speaks to me! In the valley of the last 6 months, I found it so easy to forget all but the necessary tasks in running our home. I have begun finding my way back to the heart of it! Yippee!

Kelly said...

This was a wonderful challenge to me to keep things in perspective! I, too, can get caught up in my list making and get distracted from the more important things to be giving my attnetion to.

Susanne said...

What an encouraging word, Chris. It's so true that the deeper meaning of being a mom gets so lost in the everyday tasks. Thanks for pointing me back to it.

Linda said...

As usual you write with such wisdom Chris. My nest is empty now - not nearly as many dirty dishes or messes to clean up. Looking back I know that the important things were not a spic and span home - they were the loved ones who lived there.

Judy said...

What a wonderful post! Thank you!

Lisa writes... said...

Too often I have reduced the meaning of my home to a chore list. I fail to see the incredible role and the influence I have been given and the value of my own work

Me too...thanks for the (eternal) perspective...

T said...

yes yes yes and yes.

momzie said...

I thought of my mom and how she did so well what you are talking about. She didn't have lots of Christian books about how to do her job and maybe didn't need them because our culture wasn't yet hostile to her calling. We didn't know that behind the closed door of her bedroom, she was on her knees for us. We did know that when we got off the school bus there was often fresh bread baking and we had come to our safe place.

Thank you for taking time to write your blog in the midst of all you do for your big, busy family. It's so very encouraging.