I am a new creation. But the "old me" still knocks on my door and stays for awhile from time to time...I do not like these visits...especially when these visits take up residence.
Here is a quick summary of the "old me"...the part of me that I struggle with everyday...
perfectionist, over-achiever, OCD tendencies
Some people would look at these attributes and think that those things do not seem all that bad.
I look at them and see bondage...these three things sneak in and control me. I make idols out of them. They often take rank in my life before God, my husband and my kids.
And these idols feed on each other. My perfectionism drives me to over-achieve and manifests itself in compulsive behavior.
...but there is an even harder factor driving these three idols. My need to please...I let these thoughts control me: what will they think of me if they see my unmade bed? these sticky spots on my floor? these toys EVERYWHERE?
My husband does not care if the house gets messy...if there are dishes in the sink...toys everywhere...crumbs on the floor...he just wants to see me with a smile on my face and a joyful spirit.
and my kids? ...they want mommy to stack blocks with them and read them a book.
and those unexpected visitors that drop by the parsonage?...they want to see the real me...they want to know that the pastor's wife is just like them...that her life is just as messy and crazy as theirs.
and God? ...He wants me to abide in Him and He in me. He wants to take first place in my life. He doesn't want to take second place to laundry, dishes, and clean floors.
When I stand before Him one day, I doubt that he's going to say, "Wow! Your house was always so clean! Good job!"
No...it's probably going to be more like, "How did you advance My kindgom?... or "How did you bring me glory?"
So who am I really pleasing here with all this cleaning? Myself! I worship myself. I have made myself into an idol.
I'm not saying that keeping a clean house is a bad thing. I'm not saying that we should neglect our duties at home. God has not called us to be lazy. But we cannot afford the other extreme either...like me...the over-achiever who often lets these thing get in the way of my relationship with Him and the people I love most.
So how do I overcome this?
I do nothing...I'm realizing that only God can perform this miracle in me...I'm saturating this matter in prayer and instead of praying "for help", I'm praying that God would make this change in me. It is only by His love, grace and strength that I can overcome this.
So can I ask you to lift me up in prayer over this matter? Do you struggle with the same thing? Please let me know if you do! I would love to lift you up too...
Also, has God revealed to you any ways in which to break this vicious cycle? I would love to hear them. Here are a few things that I have been trying this week:
1. I can only clean up/straighten up twice a day. I set my timer for 30 minutes after lunch. I use this time for laundry, dishes, sweeping, etc. (obviously there are some exceptions...for instance, I do clean the boy's food trays after breakfast that way they will be clean for their lunch....or if there is a major spill or teetee accident that merits cleaning right away...just use common sense.) I'm amazed at how much time this has freed up in the morning to focus solely on God and my boys. With this rule in place, cleaning does not get in the way of sitting on the floor with my boys and just playing or doing a homeschool session or playing outside.
2. My second cleaning/straightening session happens once the boys are tucked away in their bed. This one does not usually take long. It's mostly just loading the dishwasher, putting a load of laundry on to wash, picking up stray toys, etc.
(If you want to try this realize that the first day is doing to be very hard if you are a chronic cleaner. It was for me anyway! On the first day of implementing this in my own house, I found myself pacing the house resisting the urge to go behind my boys and pick their messes up. By the second day, I was joining in on the fun!)
So right now I'm going to do something that is really hard for me. I'm going to post some pics of my house in a semi-messy state in hopes that this serves to free me even more. So here goes...