This weekend I was doing some spring cleaning. It’s one of those things that feels good after the fact, but is a royal pain in the midst of it. I’ve been working on spring cleaning for awhile now, one room at a time, and this weekend was my bedroom. I kept asking myself as I was looking at stacks of papers and clothes that didn’t fit, “How did this happen exactly? When did my life spiral out of control?”
I know when my life (or at least my laundry and paper piles) spiraled out of control. It didn’t happen with one dramatic move. It happened a little here and a little there. It happened because I was busy. Because I was focused on other things. Life at my house is rarely quiet. It’s loud, active, full of laughter and sometimes squabbling kids. There’s a long list of people and things vying for my attention. So sometimes piles of laundry (the bane of my existence) or stacks of papers just don’t warrant my attention the way other things do.
As I was sorting through the rubble of my room, I recognized that the piles were the result of all the things mentioned above. And that in those moments, it made perfect sense not to worry too much about clothes, papers, books, etc that I was now trying to organize. But when I was actually doing the work of cleaning up the mess I wondered if I couldn’t have been a little more intentional about it not turning into a mess in the first place.
And then I thought of other messes we have to clean up sometimes. Messes in our marriage. In our relationships with others or our kids. Situations at work or church. A health issue that could have been avoided if we ate differently or exercised. All the result of being busy. Of being focused on other things.
Sometimes we simply don’t do the little things needed to keep our relationship or situation together and well. Other things…..important things…..necessary things call out to us needing our attention. Maybe your work calls out to you. It must be done. It’s necessary to provide for your family. But at the end of the day you’re tired and weary and so the sacrifice of tending to your marriage or your connection with your children just slips by. It’s just a little here and a little there, until one day you look around and really see the mess. And the work of cleaning it up is far more difficult than the small steps along the way would have been.
It happens to all of us. Any person who has tried to fit into an old pair of jeans that doesn’t fit knows what I mean. We don’t gain 15 pounds overnight. It happens one Mountain Dew and cupcake at a time. Few wives wake up and just decide they are going to stop loving their husbands today. Children don’t grow up resentful towards parents “just because”. Stress and tension in our work relationships are not random.
Every spring I have to do spring cleaning because I let things slide in the winter. It has to be done. But maybe the cleanings can get easier. The piles less high if I just choose differently every day. And maybe our marriages, work relationships, family relations and church ties can get a little easier to manage as well. I’m not sure if I’ll do a better job between now and next spring with my laundry piles, but I pray for more discipline on a daily basis to avoid the heavy work down the road.
And that’s something we need to pray for all our relationships as well. Lord, help us have more discipline on a daily basis to keep our lives together and well, so that we can avoid the heavy work down the road.