As I’ve previously discussed on this blog, I don’t enjoy cooking. I can cook, but I think food that is made from love is the best (for reference, see my Aunt Dy’s Sock It To Me cake). What I can do with love, however, is clean. For me, there’s a little slice of serenity in dusting, mopping and even scrubbing tiles.
But that wasn’t always the case.
When I was a younger, moody pre-teen, I refused to clean my room. No matter how my mom scolded, yelled and nagged, I just couldn’t be bothered to straighten up. I liked my mess because it was mine. There were even days when, on a cleaning frenzy, my mom would clean my room herself. I’d take in the freshness of it all and promptly throw my jeans on the ground, starting that pile of dirty clothes that only seems to grow larger, never smaller. My mom would sigh, shake her head and clean something else. I’d kick my feet up on my unmade bed and smile that smug, pre-teen smile.
One day, a few of my friends came over my house. After we ate dinner, we lounged around in the den and watched BET (back in the dark ages when they still showed actual music videos). My mom walked in and said: “Why don’t you take your friends to your room?”
My pulse quickened a little bit. I mean, my mess was my mess, but I am a little bit southern….and every southerner knows your home should be clean when you have guests. The den was clean; my room was not.
I narrowed my eyes at my mom.
I detected the hint of a smile on her face.
“We’re good down here, actually. We wanted to watch videos.”
“You can watch videos in your room,” she said with finality. That was the end of the discussion.
I trudged up the stairs and opened the door to my bedroom. I could almost see those wavy lines used in commercials to denote a particularly pungent odor. My friends pretended not to notice, but they soon found an excuse to go home. I spent the rest of the night cleaning my room.
To this day, I don’t even leave my house without making sure my bed is made and my clothes are where they are supposed to be.
My mom did what she did out of love. She probably could have (and would have) cleaned my room every day. But she wanted to teach me to take care of myself. That day, I know she was probably just as embarrassed as I was, if not more. Still, the lesson had to be learned.
Sometimes, God opens the door to our hearts and reveals our mess—our sin; the burdens we’ve been carrying around forever and a day; the resentment we hang onto like a well-worn blanket. Others may see the mess—those of us who have been there before know that there are moments when God has to do big things in order to grab our attention. However—and here’s one of the things I LOVE about God—most of us will experience that revelation in private. He will open the door and show us that we “missed a spot.”
Because He loves us.
And the best news? Today is Big Trash Day. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m ready to take my burdens to the Lord and leave them there.
I like a clean room, but a clean heart is ten times better.