Did you see the post over at scarymommmy this morning? The author is talking about her frustration and exhaustion at being “the only neat freak in a house full of slobs”. She’s tired of being the only one who cares about the house, jealous of her sister who gets to live with people who give a crap and pick up after themselves, and she cries at the mess after just one day of relaxing hyper-vigilance. We hear that, don’t we?
Can You Relate?
Even as a self-professed remedial homemaker I can relate to the frustration of no one in the house caring as much as I do that it looks nice. I get frustrated because I have a hard enough time keeping up after myself, let alone everyone else too. I have been jealous and self-pitying over other people’s tidy houses and families who seem to flit about loving order and aesthetic beauty. I have truly wrestled with the question of whether I should just be a hyper-vigilant scary mommy and make everyone pick up after themselves the way I want them to, which is miserable or to let it all go and live in chaos, which is also miserable.
How Do We Deal With That?
As Christian women, wanting to glorify God and image his heart for home, marriage, and family, what can help us as we leave the room, as the author did, and want to cry and yell at the mess? What do we do when we are so angry?
Friends, less than the truth won’t help us. So, listen in as I tell us both the truth with as much grace as I know how.
When we storm and rage through the house demanding everyone pick up and return the house to our standard,
When we cry over the dishes and hate the mundanity and futility of our life,
When we scrub while thinking through all the things we’d like to say to them for being inconsiderate slob jerks,
When we throw our hands up in disgust and give up,
When we refuse to pick up anyone else’s mess,
When we do these things we err. We are making a mistake. We sin. There, I said it.
Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t point out sin to push myself or anyone else down. I’m not trying to hurt or offend you. Think of it more like a road sign like,”falling rock”, “bridge out”. It’s not to make you feel bad, it’s to point us in a different direction, one that is less miserable for you and all the people you live with.
What’s Wrong With Being Pissed Off About My House?
Very simply, it’s all focused on “self”. Me. What I want. What I feel. What I need. What makes me stressed. What I think I deserve. What I don’t have. My own standard. My way. Me. It’s awash in comparison and criticism.
Is it wrong to want to live in a reasonably tidy house? No.
Is it wrong to want your family to express courtesy by not leaving a trail of dishes, clothes, and clutter behind them for you to pick up? No.
Is it wrong to be tired and struggle with the mundane? I don’t think so.
Those desires aren’t wrong, but our reaction to them sometimes is, and it only makes us either indignant and self-righteous, or depressed, offended, and sad.
Our homemaking doesn’t exist to make us feel better, compare better, or feed our need for control. It really doesn’t.
For the Christian woman, our motive for all we do in our homes needs to be
to image God’s heart toward home, marriage, and family,
for the praise of His goodness, and the advancement of His kingdom.
It’s not about you.
Or me. It’s about glorifying him in all we do. We are created to nurture life, and to provide life-changing help in our marriages and families. We are created to serve others in grace, while still teaching and training them up to be a blessing where they live. We can’t show his way to be good while we rage, and slam, and pout, and go on strike.
The culture is telling you such self-sacrifice is ugly, misogynistic, and oppressive. Is it though? Look in the Garden of Gethsemane. Look at Jesus, always willing to be interrupted to serve. Look at him exhausted by needs, still welcoming children, the downtrodden, the sinner and slovenly. He is the most beautiful, attractive, desirable, heroic being that exists. We love him because he first loved us. He was, and is, willing to stoop down and wash our rebellious feet, to clean up other people’s messes. Our messes. He is not above the work of the home, and neither are we. His way is the way to life and when we practice it, we become more free, not less. It’s counter-intuitive and utterly true.
The gospel points to a better way, a way where your soul can rest as you live with other sinners just like yourself. When you see the beauty of the Savior, how he cleaned up the mess of your sin and failure, it’s easier to leave the room, see the mess after it was just clean, and still pick up someone else’s sock. It’s easier to see the souls of the people you love and serve them, instead of just seeing the work they make for you.
I praise God to the bottom of my soul, because I now know, that because of incredible, beautiful Jesus, God doesn’t look at me and see the mess I created for him. He delights to do me good because he has saved me and I am his.
I want to be like him, love like him, serve like him, and value people like he does.
Yes, help your family form habits that make your home run smoother, give a lot of energy to this, but love them well while you do it. Find a way to serve them in humility and grace. Yes, accept that you will have to clean up other people’s messes sometimes. It will be inconvenient and difficult, and you’ll be tempted to make it about you. Bring them alongside, look into their faces, speak in patient tones, and repent when you lash out at them, even in your heart.
You’ll Have More Joy If You Fight To Serve Well
It’s not a to-do list. It’s a posture. It’s humility and contented gratitude. You can’t earn what Jesus did for you. It’s a free gift if you’re willing to open your heart to it. Resist the urge to follow culture and believe you deserve for everyone to do what it takes to make you happy at home. The answer isn’t in other people. Help them grow and learn and develop good habits, but serve them and love them while you do. It will be really hard sometimes, sanctification often is, but know that He who began a good work in you will complete it, and press in.
Your house is full of souls. They matter infinitely more than messes.
May your aprons and bibles both be well-worn,
The Remedial Homemaker