Saturday, November 11, 2006

Cleaning Through the Tears

Can I admit something to you? It’s something I am ashamed of. Here it is:

I hate to clean.

I don’t mean “I hate to clean” like most people mean it – you know, it’s an unpleasant job, but it needs to get done, and so on.

No, I mean I really hate to clean. I detest it. I abhor it. It makes my skin crawl and my stomach revolt.

In the apartment, when we were first married, it wasn’t such a big deal. There were only a few small spaces to clean. I’d grit my teeth, hold my breath, and it would all be over in a matter of minutes.

But now that I have a good-sized house, it has become downright unbearable.

One Saturday morning, Brett found me sitting on the stairs, sobbing uncontrollably. He asked me what was wrong, and I just couldn’t keep it in any longer. I told him how much I dreaded cleaning the house. Instead of giving me the you-are-absolutely-the-worst-home-owner-ever look, he sat down beside me, patted my back and just let me cry it out.

After I was done sniffling, he asked me if I knew why I hated to clean. I couldn’t really put it in the right words (imagine that!). But now, after having several years to mull it over, here are some reasons why I think I find it so horrible.

It’s never done.

It doesn’t matter how good of a job you do, it will get dirty again. You have no control over that. Do you understand the futility of doing something that will never get done? It makes me feel hopeless. It’s like pushing a bolder up a hill to just see it go rolling over the edge to the bottom again.

It’s disgusting.

I DO clean on a regular basis, simply because I have the ages-old-guilt of what happens if I don’t. And I like living in a clean environment as much as the next person. But I hate the dirt, the filth, the dust mites, and mold that invade my house. Occasionally, when I forget to wear gloves, some of it gets under my fingernails, and I swear, I get thisclose to just chopping my hand right off.

I just can’t do it well enough.

I have a lack of “elbow-grease.” I try to scrub shower walls and floors. Really, I do. But those stains just don’t come off. I scrub, and scrub, and scour, and scrub again. Nothing changes. Then, my mom comes over, tackles a small area, and it immediately shines like the sun. I keep trying, but I just can’t seem to get the knack of it. Maybe I’m just not strong enough.

Now THE reason - this will take you on a tour of my sin nature – deep down, I believe I am too good to clean. I went to college for four years. I have my degree. I have a salaried job. I shouldn’t have to clean. Period.

Isn’t that awful? It is! I know, but it’s the way I feel. And you can bet (in a second) that if I had enough money, I’d pay someone else to clean for me. That’s right, I’d hand that job right off. I mean, I’m educated, and I have better things to do, you know? Oh my gosh, it’s so bad that I just admitted that reason! Again, sad but true.

So, my tug-of-war with the cleaning demon goes on. I still hate it, and I cry almost every time I do it. I just let myself sit down and have a good five minute – futile – cry before I start.

Our church doesn’t have a janitor. Instead, the members all go on a six month cleaning schedule. The first time we were called and told it was our Sunday to clean, I just sat down and – you guessed it – cried.

Now, this is where an understanding guy like Brett comes in – he told the people at church that he would willingly come out and clean – then, he told me not to worry about it. Isn’t that just the sweetest thing, ever? I was so grateful!

We got another call this morning, and I avoided my usual breakdown. Somehow, knowing my husband is willing to shoulder that burden for me, made me want to help him clean this time.

So, I’ll be there, Sunday morning, cleaning through my tears, and knowing that it will – almost immediately – get dirty again.

I’m telling you – it’s hopeless!

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