I often feel sorry for my husband, Scott. When it comes to what men probably desire in a wife, I am fairly positive I am quite deficient. Now, I’m not talking about things of a physical nature 🙂 I’m talking about the things most people think all wives should be able to do. Like cooking, cleaning, sewing, grocery shopping… I’m sooooo not good at those things. Scott definitely struck out when it comes to marrying a ‘domestic housewife’!
Now, I feel like I should make a disclaimer here. Scott has never been ugly to me about any of my deficiencies, except for maybe a few cooking jokes used for sermon fodder. He helps clean all the time, plus he does his own laundry! And of course, he still does all the yard work, and can fix almost anything at the house. He even installed our garbage disposal and our over the stove microwave! I hit the jackpot when it comes to husbands!
So, back to my confessional. Let’s take cooking, for instance. I cannot cook. Well, I can cook one thing – homemade biscuits 🙂 And that’s because my mother-in-law, Rocky, taught me. I messed it up several times at first though, and then she came and watched me do it to see what the problem was. She figured it out and told me how to correct it. Ever since, I have been a biscuit-making rockstar! But everything else never seems to work out. I’ll follow the recipe verbatim, and still, lackluster results 😦
I often have these moments of ‘I can do this’ in the kitchen, but it always seems to fall flat. I even screwed up sweet tea one time! Scott’s love language is ‘acts of service’, so if I have a pitcher of tea ready for him when he comes home, it really means a lot to him 🙂 I had this nifty instant tea maker, but this one time, I totally forgot to put in the tea bag. That night, when he came home from playing basketball, he came home to big pitcher of sugar water!
I guess it all goes back to when I was growing up. My mom was a great cook. But all the time that she was in the kitchen cooking for our family, I was outside playing football with dad and Bekah (dad was all-time quarterback), or at basketball practice, or doing homework. I had no desire to spend time in the kitchen. Wait, I take that back. I loved eating in the kitchen, just not cooking… or cleaning!
That leads me to cleaning. I am a terrible housekeeper. My word, our house becomes a hot mess in just one second. Now, I know houses get messy at times, and I maybe shouldn’t be so hard on myself. But it gets out of hand. I stack things up in preparation for putting them away, and they never get put up. I’m always trying to just get things straightened up that I can’t ever seem to do the hard-core cleaning that needs to be done. Before you know it, there are little piles of stuff everywhere! Plus we have two girls, and their homework and school stuff gets left on the kitchen table, their shoes are left in the middle of the living room floor, dirty clothes left on their beds… it goes on and on. You can see the tracks in the house left by Tornado Zoe and Tornado Elsie! And finally, there’s the dog, Gabby. She might possibly be the most well-behaved dog on the planet. But even the best of dogs shed. So her hair gets all over the floor. Sometimes it seems like when I vacuum, in one day’s time, it looks just like it did before I vacuumed! The cycle never ends 😦
There are several reasons for my poor housekeeping skills. And I can’t blame this one on my lack of time cleaning as a child. My mom was also an excellent housekeeper. And she thoroughly believed that children should be responsible for their fair share of cleaning the house! We cleaned our rooms, bathrooms, dishes, and even cleaned the baseboards. She was never a jerk about it; it’s just the way she ran her house. And we did it. So now as a grown up, what are my hindrances in being able to keep a clean house?
Well, let me list them for you.
1 – distraction
2 – nostalgia
3 – exhaustion
4 – blindness
First off, I get distracted. I am super involved in church activities. I love being a pastor’s wife, and I have a heart for ministry. So I get busy doing ‘churchy’ things, and needless to say, our house suffers for it. I’ll actually be in the act of cleaning something, then I’ll think of something I need to get together for church, and I’ll just quit in the middle of what I’m doing and start on that project. For example, I was cleaning out magazines the other day, came across the Halloween edition of Oriental Trading, and then just started looking for things for our church’s Trunk or Treat. I just can’t seem to see cleaning tasks through! So easily distracted…
Secondly, I am very nostalgic. This adjective might be one of the most perfect words to describe me. I get this from my dad, no doubt. I love talking about old stories of Huffman Assembly of God and Cathedral of the Cross. I love just driving down Center Point Parkway and remembering growing up in Huffman, Center Point, and Pinson suburbs. I love going by the houses Scott and I lived when we were first married and showing the girls where we lived when they were born. I love looking at old pictures and remembering. I don’t live in the past, but I oh so appreciate it.
The downside of being extremely nostalgic is that you don’t want to throw things from your past away. So I have so many items from growing up, from college, from our wedding, from the girls tiny newborn days that you just begin to accumulate and accumulate. It’s hard to keep things clean when you have a ton of stuff! And then when my mom passed away last year that just added to the accumulation problem. I don’t want to get rid of certain items that reminds me of my mom. Or if I do want to get rid of it, I feel guilty, so I just keep it. Being nostalgic really hinders my housecleaning endeavors.
Third, sometimes I’m just so tired or have no desire to clean. I actually have a full-time job as a business systems analyst at Protective Life Insurance, and at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is clean the house. And before I can even get to that, I have to get dinner together (Scott helps with this big time!), get the girls homework wrapped up, get the girls their baths, and then get them to bed. So by that time, I REALLY don’t want to clean. I feel exhausted. Plus, I usually have church things to work on, so I would much rather work on that than clean house. I just have no desire to do it.
And finally, I have just become blind to the mess, to the dirt, to the chaos. Once you get used to everything being a wreck, you don’t seem to notice it anymore. Every morning, I’ll walk over the piles of mess in the girl’s rooms to get to their closets and not even notice the obstacle course I just went through. When I’m looking for some jewelry to wear with an outfit, I won’t even realize the little piles of items on my dresser that I’ve moved all over the place just to find the perfect earrings. I’ve become blind to the mess. I’m not sure if I deliberately don’t let myself see it, or if I’ve just become so desensitized to it that I don’t even realize it’s there anymore. But regardless, it’s a mess, it’s unhealthy, and it’s absolutely not peaceful.
Scott is a clean guy. He’s organized, and he likes things to be in their places. He hates clutter. He also has a knack for seeing dirt in the hidden places. For example, dirt on the tops of door jams, fingerprints on the screen door, dust in the air return vent. And he never complains to me about these things. I’ll just find him cleaning them out himself. I guess he figures if I can’t get the normal ‘in your face’ things clean around the house, there’s no point in asking me to get the hidden things!
So one day, when I was attempting to clean the house, I prayed, ‘God, help me see the things that are dirty that Scott sees. He seems to have a really good eye for it.” I wasn’t being silly or anything, I just really wanted to do a good job. So as I started dusting, I got to my dining table. It was a dark cherry table, and dust always seems to show up so easily. So after I dusted it, I continued on with the rest of the room. And then I felt like God said, “Turn around and look at that table again.” So I did, even though I thought the request was a bit strange. I had just cleaned this table. But of course, God had a point and knew what He was doing.
The table was a pub height and square shaped. It has this extra storage piece in the base of the table. And above that storage piece but under the table top is an opening that kind of looks like a shelf. And there it was, a shelf completely covered with dust. When I was in the act of dusting it, I didn’t even see that dust. I didn’t’ even notice the shelf. But then God answered my prayer by actually showing me something that needed to be cleaned, that I know Scott would have caught, but I missed. God actually answered my prayer, although even when I prayed it, I knew it sounded silly. But it’s because there was a spiritual lesson for me to learn in all of it, and God took the opportunity to teach 🙂
There’s no doubt, God uses praise and worship music to speak to my heart and move my soul. One of my favorites is called ‘Hosanna’ by Hillsong. The bridge of that song is my favorite part. It goes like this:
Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity
This song came to my mind immediately after God told me to turn around and I saw that dusty shelf. ‘Open up my eyes to the things unseen’… We walk around this earth with our eyes blinded to the needs of others. We are so wrapped up in our own mess and circumstances, some good and some bad, that we walk right past broken and hurting people every day. Or sometimes it’s that we are so self-absorbed that we are only looking at what our own wants and needs are without looking at the bigger picture God sees, and we miss out on what God has for us because it’s not convenient, comfortable, or conventional.
My prayer is that God will open up my eyes to the things unseen. Let me see the real need. Let me get past my own agenda, opinions, responsibilities, and assumptions, and see what the Creator of the universe sees. And then give me the courage to act on what I see. Just because I see the mess in my house, that doesn’t just make it just magically clean itself – unless I somehow become Mary Poppins in the near future! And just because I may start to see the world the way God sees it, it’s all for naught unless I put some action behind my vision. See the need, serve the need.
To end this blog entry, I’m posting the video of Brandon Heath’s song ‘Give Me Your Eyes’. It basically sums up this post in music video form. If you have a few minutes, check it out and let it challenge you to see the unseen. I guarantee that His view is much better than ours.