Housework is one of those tasks that just never go away – there is always something more to do. The number of people living in your house multiplies the amount of work, and if there are little people living with you then you can multiply it again by five!! Cleaning house seems to be an endless task with there often seeming to be very little difference even when we spend hours working.
Why do I do housework?
Have you ever asked yourself – why do I do housework? I think it is a good question to ask – when we know our ‘why’ we find the motivation to push through the hard times. When we ask ‘why’ we set ourselves down a path of being intentional.
So why do I do housework?
This question changes when we put the emphasis on the different words. I’m not asking “Why do I do housework?” – that is another question altogether, and addresses the issue of who does the work – afterall someone’s gotta do it and I’m okay with doing it. Instead I’m asking “Why do the housework?” Why does housework have to happen?
When I have a clean, tidy and welcoming home it shows:
- God that I am thankful for his provision
- My family that I care for their physical well-being as the home is clean
- My family that I care for their emotional well-being as the home is orderly
- My family that I care for their spiritual well-being as the home is peaceful
- My friends and acquaintances that God is present because the home is welcoming and offers a retreat
When I look at this list I see purpose far beyond just cleanliness and tidiness, beyond co-ordinated colour schemes and fancy knickknacks. I see people. I keep house because my house is a point of contact, and care for people. And I need to take a special note – the first and most significant people God has brought across my path is my family.
When is the best time to clean house?
Over the years I’ve had many different cleaning schedules, some meant doing the deeper cleaning a little every day, others meant having a big cleaning day once a week. There have been seasons when the big weekly clean doesn’t even happen. Once we know why we clean house though it gives us direction to when to clean the house.
If our purpose in cleaning house is to bless our family, and the people who may visit our home then we need to clean house in preparation for those relationship times. This isn’t a people pleasing thing, a keeping up with the Joneses etc, but rather a matter of meeting the needs of the people we love and are spending time with. The other aspect is about freeing ourselves up from one responsibility in order to be free to focus on another responsibility. If my house is clean and tidy (one responsibility) I can focus on my family and friends (in a sense, my other responsibility).
I have changed my housecleaning times to focus on the weekend – I now clean house to prepare for the weekend rather than cleaning house to recover from the weekend. With this new attitude I find purpose in the mundane. I must admit though we often have to clean up a bit extra on Monday but we don’t have to do the deep stuff (that was done Friday afternoon or Saturday morning).
So when you look at when you do your housework, check to see that this time slot in your week serves your purposes. We aren’t cleaning house just for the sake of cleaning house – we are cleaning it to create a haven for the people we love.
What happens when the Housework isn’t done on time
So to summarise – we clean house
- to create a retreat for family and friends
- in time for relationship time with family and friends
But what happens if I just don’t get there? What happens if Friday night comes and the house is still a mess? What happens if people pop over and the house is in disarray or even chaos?
I think this was Martha’s issue : Jesus arrived and she had a preconceived idea of what needed to happen when visitors called. She intended to create a feast and everything around her was to shine. Jesus was important to her. But Jesus said she was distracted with many things. Not just distracted but distracted with much. I don’t believe that a feast is a bad idea – we all love a party – but this wasn’t the time for it. A simple meal would have made Jesus happy. To have her at peace in his presence would have made him happy.
The lesson for us is to not put our expectations – our excessive expectations – ahead of people. It is the people that matter , not the food, not the clutter, not the dust – the people.
We can be distracted by our needs (to have house clean, tidy, organised, perfect) or we can be focused on the needs of the people around us, whether that be our family or visitors. So ultimately it is an attitude issue: we need to lay aside our pride, for it is pride that puts our stuff before people.
I’m reminded of that song Cats in the Cradle – what a sad song that is! It is all about wrong priorities – and how children see the wrong priorities and eventually copy our example – it makes me cry every time I hear it. Let us show our children that we value relationships, we value them, more than our reputation, and more than our stuff.
One way we do that is by putting housework into its right perspective, by not letting housework be more important than relationships, and by not letting our standard for cleanliness and tidiness get in the way of heart issues.
My challenge to you this week is to take a personal assessment – watch yourself – watch your heart – are you getting stressed because things aren’t tidy? Are you getting frustrated because chores haven’t been done on time? Don’t get me wrong – our kids may need training in these areas, but we can teach and train but not because we are frustrated! One last question – Are you reluctant to invite people into your life because your house is not how you would like it?
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