I don’t know whether it’s nature or nurture or both, but I am a messy girl, and after years of trying to change (I started receiving FLYlady‘s emails when I was pregnant with Romilly in 2005!) I still struggle to maintain even the most basic level of order in my home. Sometimes I catch glimpses that there are advantages to being the way I am, that those who have the “neat freak” gene do not always count it a blessing. But mostly, I just wish I were doing a better job of serving my family in this area.
I was no better at keeping my home tidy before I had children, though well-meaning friends and family are always quick to offer my four little ones up as an excuse for the state of my house, but now there is an increasing sense of urgency to the matter. How can I keep my girls from ending up like me? When I see the horror in Pippa’s face when I ask her to tidy up the playroom, or hear the desperation in Romilly’s voice when putting all the doll clothes away is “Just too much, Mommy!”, I see and hear myself! How can I train them to pick up after themselves, when I don’t consistently do it myself? How can I teach them what I just haven’t learned yet? The situation is getting pretty dire as more and more little girls graduate to mess-making age around here.
This passage has been staring me down for quite some time now.
6 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. 7 Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, 8 she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. 9 How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, 11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.
When I have read it, it has always said something like this to me:
Hey Jodi, look at all these other women who keep their homes immaculate and their laundry folded and put away all the time! They do it every day, not just when they’re getting ready for a birthday party. When they pull out their vacuum cleaners, their children do not ask them, “Mommy, is somebody coming over?” They scrub and bake and even garden (which people think you do, but it’s actually your husband who does all the work), all while you sleep in, or maybe play on the Internet for a few minutes hours on end. Those women are so. much. better than you!
But of course, whatever voice that was that I was hearing, it was not the voice of my gentle, loving Lord. What I had never noticed about these verse before few weeks ago, was this part:
Go to the ant… consider her ways, and be wise.
I wasn’t reading what these verses actually said. The answer has been right there all along: Go find “those women” and see how they do it. Learn from them! I don’t have to stay a sluggard, I can be an ant, too!
So, this is where you come in, ant friends. You know who you are, you who basically have things under control. If your laundry spends most of its time clean and folded in its proper place, and you know, for instance, that you are supposed to clean under your microwave at least every once in a while, I want to know what makes you tick! (Advice is also more than welcome from recovering sluggards: you are an inspiration!)
- What motivates you? Does the mess just drive you crazy or do you have to make yourself clean up?
- Have you always kept your home in good order? If not, was there a gradual process of improvement or a sudden Ah-ha! moment that changed everything?
- What habits have you found most helpful in this area?
- Is there a spiritual element to it? A key verse that might help me see more clearly that it’s important to God that I keep my home neat and clean?
I want to be able to serve my family better in this area, and I think I’ve been taking baby steps in the right direction, but if there are more secrets out there, I want to know them! I want to teach them to my daughters so that they can enter life more prepared than I was for how messy life really is.