I don’t remember the exact day it happened. It was probably sometime between our 2nd and 4th adoption. I just couldn’t take it anymore. The mess was consuming my thoughts and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t work hard enough to keep my home clean. I was fed up and I just stopped cleaning. I quit.
You see, I used to be a self-professed neat-freak. Any of my old roommates could tell when I wasn’t pleased with the cleanliness of our apartment by the look on my face. I’m sure I wasn’t the easiest to live with but on the flip side, they didn’t have to worry about who was going to scrub the toilets.
I continued my cleanliness obsession on into my marriage, where I would gently remind my husband when he left bread crumbs on the counter or didn’t make the bed. I loved having things “just so.” I loved having a home that was guest ready anytime of the day.
But, after adopting 4 children in a period of 2.5 years, my desire for a clean home was overruled by my desire for sleep. The more I tried to keep my home clean, the dirtier it ended up getting, and the more tired I would become. Can you relate?
So, in retaliation for not getting my way, I just stopped. I stopped mopping the floors, scrubbing the toilets, vacuuming the carpets, sweeping the kitchen and any other task that involved cleaning my home. I still did laundry on occasion and kept the house tidy, but I guarantee you I wouldn’t have passed a state health inspection.
My husband was either so unconditionally loving of me during this time or he just didn’t notice. He never made comments about the state of our home, nor did he ever ask me to clean. Therefore, I had no one keeping me accountable for stewarding my home well. Or so I thought.
As I was speaking in front a group of moms about the topic of mommy guilt, a young woman rose her hand and asked a question. She asked me, “how do you get over feeling guilty about not having your home clean all the time while raising young children?” For a second I thought she was asking me personally about my home, but I quickly realized I had never met her before and she was asking a question about herself.
I responded to her by saying that how we feel about our homes reflects the condition of our hearts. And then it hit me. The Holy Spirit was keeping me accountable. Ouch! The condition of my heart towards my home had deteriorated drastically over the past year and this was my wake-up call.
Colossians 3:23 (NLT) says “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”
Ever since that day, this verse has been etched into my heart. I may still not have a perfectly clean home, but my heart is cleaner and my perspective about housework has changed from inconvenient, to something that pleases the Lord.
Are you in a similar place in life; raising young children and feeling overwhelmed with housework? I have 3 tips to help you manage the overwhelm a little better.
#1. Submit your home to the Lord. Know in your heart that it’s His home and the work you do in it is for Him first.
#2. Lower your expectations. The process of working willingly for the Lord doesn’t mean anything has to be done perfect. The process is more about refining your heart than it is your home.
#3. Ask for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and can’t get it all done, ask for help. This could be asking your husband, your children, a friend or hiring a cleaning crew if you have the means.
I’m learning more and more everyday about what it means to be a good steward of my home. I love being able to provide my family with a clean place to eat, sleep and snuggle up for a movie. I no longer dread sweeping the floors or scrubbing toilets. It’s a way for me to work willingly while honoring God with the gifts He has blessed my family with.