May it be this one.
Maybe you have kids and this will be the one blog post of mine that you want them to read too.
Or maybe it’s the one blog post that you read.
Maybe it’s the one that will encourage you to keep reminding them…keep after them to pick up behind themselves.
Or maybe you’re the one that needs reminding to pick up. There are days when I know I need that reminder.
Whatever the reason you may or may not read this post here is where my head is at and what I want my kids to understand about why I am constantly after them to keep their room clean and help out around the house. (And just for clarification I am talking about neat-and-tidy-won’t-be-embarrassed-if-friends-drop-in clean. Not pinterest-picture-perfect-looks-like-no-one-actually-lives-here clean. There’s a difference.)
Your father and I have always wanted home to be a safe happy place for you kiddos. A place that you wanted to be and a place that you wanted to eagerly return to when you’ve been away. We’ve also wanted it to be a place where you felt comfortable inviting your friends over to hang out.
Over the years we’ve guarded your time fiercely making sure that you never came to view our home as a hotel that you came to for showers, sleep, and the occasional meal before jetting off to the next event on the schedule. And let me tell you with five of y’all that has been no easy feat! At times it has meant disappointing you by not allowing you to participate in some things but we are thankful that you’ve trusted us and accepted our decisions. Home is about much more than the drop in place to regroup before heading out the door again.
But there is much more to loving home than just enjoying being here…feeling safe here…and inviting your friends over. What happens in our home and how we tend it and take care of it says much about who we are as a people and what we believe about stuff and life and God.
I know you probably get tired of hearing me remind you to clean your bathroom. Lord knows I get tired of reminding you only to still find rocks soaking in a sink full of water, or forty two towels hanging from the hook on the back of the door, nineteen empty bottles of shampoo and body soap in the shower beside six sopping rags on the floor of the tub. And just when I want to scream with frustration and lament that I am constantly reminding you over and over again to do the same things all the time He reminds me that the book of Proverbs is full of the gentle repetition of His commands. And how many times are we told in the New Testament to love one another? But sometimes that is hard because it means we pick up someone else’s dirty undies from the floor.
And what we really want is to do as little as possible. Or maybe just take care of our own mess. That makes sense right? And it only seems fair. But here’s the dealio. It really doesn’t matter who you think should be responsible for what. We live in a house, in a family and that means we all take care of each others stuff. It’s what gives you the right later on as grown ups to be in each others business…to help one another…to encourage one another in doing good. We don’t live alone! Not now and not twenty years down the road so we pick up some body’s dirty dishes and take care of them because they are overwhelmed by homework. And we maybe drain the sink and put the rocks on a towel to dry while we go remind the one who got distracted to come finish up their task.
I know life even at your ages gets busy. Your father and I are thrilled to see you working so diligently on your homework. Volleyball and soccer games are lots of fun (and we really are happy to let you go cheer on the teams!) and we’re delighted that you want to go to Bible study and small groups and involve yourselves in those kinds of activities. We’re so proud when you really push yourself at the piano and practice really hard to learn a new piece. And guys, y’all have some seriously great friends and we are so thankful for the people you get to spend time with and doing things. But if there is time for all of those things then there is time to keep your room tidy.
I am resigned to the fact that as yet at this stage in your life you do not appreciate the calmness that results from a fully made bed. It’s okay, really. I didn’t either when I was your age and I am guessing that at some point in your life you will. But right now, the way you take care of your things makes some pretty bold statements about what you really think about what you have. While we cannot read your mind to know for sure what you may really think your actions shout a pretty clear message.
When you leave your stuff strewn about your room you are saying that it has very little value and that you don’t really appreciate what you have, be it provided for you or because you were blessed with the means to buy something for yourself. There is a certain amount of contempt being declared when things are just shoved to the floor and piled up. It’s a declaration that what you have isn’t good enough or worth your care. As you discipline yourself to take a few minutes each day to put things in their place you will also be cultivating a heart that is thankful for what it has been given.
Whether it is a result of being ungrateful or a lack of tending your room results in a lack of gratitude I’m not sure. But it does bring me to the next thing. What happens behind closed doors doesn’t stay behind closed doors. This is why it matters that you can step over the pair of shoes literally on the floor of the door way or walk past the hair ties and bobby pins laying on the mantle, the computer desk and the counter tops of every room in the house. You should not be able to overlook these things as if they aren’t there but rather see them as an opportunity to imitate the Gospel in our home by putting things to rights and restoring order. Walk into a room and look around. Is there anything you can do that will leave it better than you found it?
In our home you are safe, loved, provided for, and part of a family; something larger than yourself. But there are responsibilities that come with that birthright and they should be accepted gladly. It’s ok not to notice every little thing but when someone else notices and asks for your help in taking care of something do it with a good attitude. Be helpful but not begrudgingly so. Don’t hesitate when asked to do something so that everyone knows you had other plans but you are willing to be imposed upon to do something else. Never allow your attitude to be one that conveys your disdain to be inconvenienced by the needs of others. Your need before God is an undeniable fact and should cause you to have a humble and willing heart since even the very breath you draw must come from Him.
The truth, my sweet children, is that your well being is connected to the well being of those you are in community with right now…with us, with each other, with your friends and church family that He has given you in all of our shortcomings, utter failures, and outright sins. Like the exiled children of Israel you are called to work for the good of the city, the community where you live, because that is where your well being will be found. Happiness, the right kind, comes from delighting in the gifts that He has given you right here right now. Don’t despise those gifts by not tending them and caring for them as you ought.
And remember, that just as your well being is connected to ours, ours is connected to yours. We want you to live well and prosper in all that you put your hand to. Don’t tire of being faithful in the mundane tasks because that is where you learn to truly rejoice no matter your circumstances.
Sharing over at Titus 2 Tuesday