I get it.
You want the house to be clean. You want the garage to be perfectly organized. You want the backyard to be trimmed, prim, and proper. While I know that we live in the tension of knowing that poor office/house/garage/shop/foyer organization somewhat represents us as a whole, we cannot let that dictate us to the point of excessive worry.
While I was away for Thanksgiving, I read Proverbs 14 one morning during my devotions. In verse four, there is a solid, comforting reminder for those of us who suffer from anxiety and overwhelm when their workspace and living space look less than HGTV ready or not like Jay Leno’s garage.
Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox
Farming Equipment And Cleanliness
Think of a modern-day farmer. He has five brand new John Deere tractors to do the work that he needs to do. Neither one of them have seen dirt yet, and it’s planting season. He has a choice to make. He can either put the high-dollar equipment to work and earn a living, or he can keep the equipment clean and maintenance-free by keeping them out of the fields.
That’s what this Proverb is saying. To paraphrase it, one could say “sure, the manger is clean because the oxen hasn’t had to be fed, nor is their oxen to feed.”
So if you were a farmer, you could expect to earn income by putting the oxen to use, but be ready also for the mundane process of cleaning up after it as well.
Embrace The Tension
The guests are coming over soon, and there’s still toys in the floor, there’s some dishes not washed or put away in the dishwasher. There are still paw prints from the wet dog on the floor. It’s not perfect.
But you, keeping up appearances, are going to have it spotless. After all, we want to hear “wow, your house is so clean! It’s beautiful! I wish I could keep my house this clean!” but inwardly, you are exhausted, frustrated, and overwhelmed about the room that has the door closed you hope they won’t open.
You and I must embrace the fact that if we have children, pets, clothes, food, drink, homework, backpacks, lunchboxes, shoes, laundry… there’s not possible way to continue the pretense of balance when in reality, we live here.
It’s going to get dirty. Laundry will pile up. Countertops will still have some leftovers on them. The sockets won’t be tucked away neatly in their designated slot in the toolbox. You can’t pet the dog and mop up behind her every time she comes in. You can’t wash clothes and do homework while washing dishes at the same time. Well, you can, but you’ll be a three headed monster by the time you’re done.
Quit worrying about it. If you’re home is productive, producing life and shelter along with growth and love, then embrace the fact it will require mundane attention on occasion, but there’s no way to have income from the oxen when the manger is squeaky clean.
Enjoy your kids. Enjoy your pets. Enjoy your furniture. Enjoy your kitchen. It’s ok to let it show the productivity that they have brought.
What Are Your Thoughts? What Habits Have You Found To Aid In The Balance?