Thursday, September 8, 2011

Maintaining the "Clean"

A year ago I was given a most awesome birthday gift.
It was something I had always wanted, something I had asked for every year...
and something I let sit on my counter since last September 22nd.

It stared at me. It called out, "Use me!" My husband would see it and say, "I thought you were super excited about that?"
"I was! I am! I mean... I'll use it when it's time."

See, a year ago my parents very generously gave me one of my dream gifts: Maids.
Merry Maids, to be more specific. A gift card that covered a deep "spring cleaning."

Yesterday I finally used it.

When the girl came to do the walk-through last week, she looked at all the rooms to be done (everything except the kids' rooms and laundry) and said, "It should take about 3 to 4 hours."
I think I asked a couple more times, knowing the extent to which dirt was piled behind the couches, atop the shelves and upon those blinds.
"3 to 4 hours." She said that was pretty typical for a house like this.

A couple days before, I started clearing away some of the clutter... and realized how much clutter-y junk there actually was! It was all dusty, resting on night stands and dressers and counters and tables. That was one of the reasons why I had waited so long to use my coveted gift card: I knew I would have to actually tackle the piles!And the piles are there in the first place because I don't usually have the time to tackle them!!!

When the two Maids (hee-hee) walked through the house yesterday morning (cleared of clutter, ready to be cleaned) it was the same thing, "Oh, 3 hours, maybe 4. We should be out around lunchtime."

I was still skeptical, because I know my house.
I know it looks cozy, but is actually a lot bigger that it appears.
I know it looks clean on the surface, but there are things lurking. 
3 to 4 hours. Out around lunchtime.

At 4:15, those Maids finally crawled out the front door. Seven and a half hours.
They were tired. I'm sure they were sore.
They wanted to keep going at lunchtime (when I think they had fully realized this was going to take much longer than first anticipated), so around 1:30-ish I convinced them to take the crackers and Cokes I was offering. I knew they had to be hungry.

The funny thing about a clean house is that you now really notice the not-quite-clean areas.
After seeing them out, I walked back into the kitchen surveying my fresh-smelling surroundings... and found a few places they forgot.
(I don't blame them. I would, too, if I had worked for that long!)
I grabbed the Windex and wiped down the kitchen and dining room windows. I cleaned out the sliding glass door track. I scrubbed off some remaining spots on the floor.
This morning I got down on my hands and knees and dusted that little grill under the fridge doors.

With everything being so clean, it's easy to see the not-so-clean.
With everything being so clear, it's easy to see the clutter-y.

And I realize this is my life. I go back and forth with staying in the Word, with really delving into what it's teaching me. I go back and forth with keeping things up, and then letting them go, and then getting back into keeping them up again, only to *without quite realizing it* let them go again.
And I think this is why Jesus told us to remain in Him.
When we do that, it's easier to see the parts that aren't remaining in Him as much.
But when we don't spend time with Him, when we let ourselves get "dusty," it becomes harder to spot the messes and get them taken care of. They can easily overtake life without us even fully realizing it.
Or maybe we realize it, but we feel like we don't have the energy to take care of the "messes."

Maintenance requires daily time, both with my house and with myself.
And sometimes it requires bringing in the professionals to help you get back on track... whether Merry Maids or a trusted pastor or counselor or friend.

Often, we know full well how deep the dust goes. Others may look and say, "Oh, 3 to 4 hours. This is typical." But we know. We can be lulled into a bit of complacency by well-meaning people who say, "It's not that bad." And we think, "Yeah, I guess it's not. I'm sure it's fine."
But, we still know.

My house is clean now. I'm not saying it's going to remain spotless. Let's be realistic here.
But, it's easier to spot the messes. Easier to see the clutter that had become a part of daily living, however unwanted.
As the Maids left they were quite insistent that I should sign up for a monthly cleaning.
"Oh, this was a gift. It's not something I can do on a monthly basis."
"But, now that we have it all taken care of, the upkeep will be a lot easier," one of the maids implored.
"That's what I'm hoping," I said with a smile... 
(What I wanted to say was, "If I could pay you $180 to come clean monthly, I would pay you instead the $240 to do this twice a month! Are you kidding me? Do you think I don't want that? Of course I want that! The reality is, that's another car payment, which we can't wisely afford... keyword being wisely... which is why you came and cleaned everything... so I could hopefully keep up on it better myself." But, I didn't say that. Maybe I should have. *smile*)

Let's try to daily remain in Him, because then maintaining the "clean" is a lot easier!

(Thanks, Mom and Dad. What a blessing!!! It's sure nice to head into our busy season with a deeply clean house.)

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