9.06.2010

on a subject that really bothers me...

This is a bit of an honest, raw 'rant', so bear with me. And, if you don't like it, please don't feel obligated to stay. I won't be offended if you click on the little x in the left hand corner of your screen :) I wrote this over a week ago and I've been unsure about posting it. Over the past year, I've stopped writing on topics that I feel will cause any sort of debate or come off as offensive and just focus on our family and fun things we do/learn. But since it is my blog, I've decided its the best place for me to 'rant' on this subject. 
oh, but before I start I want to clarify something: In this post I refer to non-super clean, super organized people as 'messy'. I wish I had found a better word and I know I could've said "people who aren't as clean or as organized as other people" but that just seemed to make this already way too long of a post, even longer. So for clarification, I'm not a huge fan of using the word 'messy' across the board, but for this post, I did. 
**I will warn you now, its a long post. .......




I think I'm starting to miss the point on some blog posts/conversations these days. Like honestly, maybe its just me and everyone else would be like "calm down, get over yourself" and maybe they'd be right. Whenever I read a book, or an article or, in this case, a blog post, I typically ask myself a few questions - 
1.) what is this about? What's the point and what are they driving at? 
{I know that looked like 3 questions, but its really 3-in-1} 
2.) how can I apply this to myself and what are some valuable 
{or invaluable in some cases} lessons I can learn from this? 
3.) Do I need to reply/comment? 
Because not everything needs a comment, even in person.


There is one thing I'm beginning to notice on some blogs {and not on any blogs where I know the person, personally}.
I don't understand this 'new' need to dissect what's better : A clean/organized home or a less clean/organized home.  And why do some women think having order and cleanliness in a home, means the people in that home are possibly putting off God and everlasting treasures? I understand the caution not to worship our homes or our things, or even people in our homes, sure. But don't you think messier, more unorganized people can do the same? 
Sometimes a person is unorganized because they have too much stuff. They collect and collect and hoard {if you need proof just watch TLC's show about hoarders} and create so many treasures, that they can't even part with them, let alone organize them. 
But the part I just don't understand is, why the discussion on it all. Who cares? 
Especially if you ask, of what benefit does this have in my life? If someone is truly bothered by the way their home is kept, maybe they need to keep it better. I never sit around worrying about what people will think of my home. Its MY home. I keep it the way my husband and I feel most comfortable in it. 
If someone doesn't like my home or acts uncomfortable in it, I just shrug and usually feel sorry for them, for their lack of grace. Its just a home; a place we take refuge, feel safe at night, eat our meals and live together as family
And then you have some women who will refer to it as needing 'perfection'-- A clean home to some means perfection?! I honestly don't understand it.  I get really creeped out when I realize they actually tell themselves that having a clean, organized home means their lives will suddenly take on or appear perfect.
 I'm starting to see these types of blog posts and hearing conversations popping up all over the place and its really beginning to bother me. Like, to look like you're super godly means you need to have a disheveled home, so people think you're more concerned with outside ministries? 
As wives and mothers our homes are to be our FIRST priority, not our last. And making your family and your home your 1st priority will look different for each family. We're not all puppets of one another, nor should we be. What's very clean and orderly to one woman, might be obsessive to another. That's the way God created us. We see things differently; we have different opinions and live life out differently. Being one thing and not the other doesn't make the one thing wrong in every situation. 
Training your children to clean up after themselves, to take care of and preserve the things they are given, doesn't cause them to idolize that toy/thing. It teaches them to respect the material gifts GOD has given to them and to especially respect other people's things, that don't belong to them.  I don't want to raise sloppy, careless, animal like children. I don't think it makes my kids look "well rounded" if they can destroy a room in someones house in less than 30 minutes. If Ethan breaks his very favorite, most expensive toy, I don't flip out and curse him, but I also won't run out and buy him another one. Its usually his lesson that he's just not ready or mature enough to have that toy/thing. And the lesson for him is "if we take care of our things, they'll last much longer." I also don't want his world to end because a materialistic thing got ruined. Life happens. 
But I certainly don't understand this new need that women have, to write entire blog posts about how they'll never be 'Suzie Perfection' like the woman next door. Who cares?! If you like the way Suzie Perfection keeps her home, if her life has what looks like more order and less chaos, then why don't you go get some advice from her, instead of making fun of her?! 
And most people don't out and out make fun of the personal type they're referring to. Its usually something like -- rant, rant, rant about said topic that's on their mind, ending with something like this: "but, I've decided to enjoy my family and not obsess and worry about my home so much." - that's not a real quote, I totally made that up. But its a close example to what I see going on. So they're essentially saying that the other type is less concerned with their family and obsesses over their home. I guess if your home is a real disaster, then cleaning it at all will take quite of bit of time. Who knows. 
If we wish our dishes would be done and not piled up a mile high, then maybe some things need to change or shift around in our day, so we can FIND the time to do it. Like getting off the computer, turning off the TV, hanging up the phone, putting down that extra craft or project we think we need to be doing,  and DO IT. 
I've never found the dishes to take longer than 30 minutes. I don't understand women who say if they keep home they have no time for their families. 
Evaluating how we spend our time is never a bad idea. 
The computer, phone, TV, crafts, hobbies, etc.., they're not bad in-and-of themselves. But we can turn them into a bad thing when we don't use them appropriately.  
I know I'm not the cleanest person or the model for great organization {at all}, but again, you don't see me writing blog posts about it! Well, until now :) 
And I think there's fair warning for people on the other end of the spectrum. Do you idolize your home and your things? Are you spending more time shopping for or beautifying your home to impress others, to the point where you don't have time with your own family? The same could be said for people who's homes are a complete mess because they're too busy serving the world before serving their own family. Its not bad to be out and about and being social and even doing great things for others, but it is when your home hasn't been taken care of, or if your family is suffering because of it. 
My opinion on the subject is this (because I know you're dying to hear it ;-)  
-- be happy with who you are, unless you feel like who you are isn't who God wants you to be. And if you don't think its a matter of write or wrong, then who cares?! Instead of trying to find something wrong with the way someone else does something, just enjoy your style of living. Don't worry about anyone else. Don't worry about the way they view your home or the way you dress your children, etc... if your worry is that having a cleaner home will make you look like a better person, then shame on you. Remember that God sees our heart and I really doubt He sits around watching how we clean our homes. Now, if the root of it all is laziness, then yes, God sees and judges that heart issue. Only you and God will know the real heart issues. If it bothers your husband to the point of him being uncomfortable in his own home, then yes, you probably should do something about it. I know some couples that both work outside the home and so they've divvied up the chore list. I think its great! They keep their home together and it works for them. If you lived with us for any amount of time, you would quickly see that its not all me who does the housework - Jason pitches in all the time when he's home. I'm not the maid and he doesn't treat me as such ;-) 
Just do what works for your family and don't worry about the looks on people's faces when they come through your door. If you are worried, then maybe you need to do something about it. **But I think we women are harder on ourselves than we need to be. 
And then comes the part about "is the messiness or cleanliness ever an idol?" 
I'm sure it can be. I believe it quite often is. Both can become big, ugly idols in our hearts. The clean person might get their self worth off having super nice, clean things. They sacrifice their time with their family, friends and outside ministries to stay home and mop the floor "one more time" {for the record, I've actually never met this person}. They won't really allow their children to get down and get dirty, because then it means MORE clean up for Mom and Mom is already super overwhelmed with keep the home looking perfect.
I personally don't think there's anything wrong with allowing complete dirty play to go on outdoors, but to keep it outdoors. This is very familiar to our kids. They're more than welcome to play in the dirt outside, even eat the dirt, if they'd like to try it - run through sprinklers, letting the dirt turn to mud, putting flowers in the girl's hair, using chocolate pudding for body paint, etc... but all 3 of our kids know they need to clean up before coming inside. There's a reason we live inside and not outside :) I don't stand at the door like a Nazi and sanitize them head to toe, but we wipe off dirt, leave the leaves outside where they belong, say good bye to bugs we've decided to call 'pets' and we hose down and dry off before entering the home. 
But, Jason and I could be people who really don't care. Maybe we don't mind if mud gets all over the place, bugs in the house won't hurt anyone, chocolate pudding on my furniture is no big deal. That's fine too! It would be how we, as a family chose to live. 
Where the messy person feels like they can't keep their stuff clean and organized because then they might have to give up other time wasters (idols) and maybe they'll have to come to grips with the fact that have way too much 'stuff' that they don't even need, then that would be a sin issue of the heart. 
I just wish I'd see more respect and less criticizing. I hate when I see someone puff up their way, just to put down another. Its so self righteous. People like that strike me as people who live in constant denial, so they can avoid ever having to deal with their own issues. 
When I go to a person's home and like what I see, my first reaction is to walk right up to the woman of the home and to start asking her questions. 
When Jason and I were newlyweds and enjoying hosting people in our home for the first time, I realized quickly that I was an uptight hostess. Too worried about keeping the food coming, so no one had to wait, worried that the bathroom might not look perfect during their entire visit, so I would keep running back to check it, terrified that my guests would leave not having the best time of their lives and would never want to come back. Now, I look back at all that now and realize those were a lot of newlywed insecurities. Within the first few years of being married Jason was able to help me realize that so much of it was unhealthy expectations and also me placing too much importance on how us and our home looked to those who entered. 
But I also learned a lot from watching other women. I would see the way they prepared food ahead of time, relaxed with their guests, actually sat and enjoyed themselves, etc... 
My goal has been to learn from those women, not to mock them. 
I don't want to upset people reading this. My intent was never to say "this is right and this is wrong". That's the opposite of my intent. I just wonder if this topic is popping up in so many places, maybe there's women out there struggling with it. If we were sitting face-to-face and having this conversation I'd say, stop fretting over how the person next to you lives out their life and worry about you. You'll know, better than anyone else, if what you're dealing with is a sin issue or not. Once you get to the bottom of that, deal with it or let it go. We're also all in different stages of life. I have friends who are pregnant with their 6th child, homeschooling and very active in serving their community around them, I have friends who have twins and triplets (one of my friends has 3 kids, a set of twins and all under the age of 4!) So remind yourself that while one woman/family might prefer their home one way and be able to do it AND stay sane... it may not be that time for you. 
I never think my house looks very clean {okay, unless its midnight and the kids are all in bed and yes, it is pretty darn clean for a few hours} but I rarely go to some other person's home and fret about the way it looked. If anything, I come away thinking "I like the way she decorates; I wish I knew how to decorate so creatively" or "her home looks just enough clean and just enough lived in to feel super nice and cozy; I wonder how I can create more of that in our home." 
I think we need to be happy in our own spaces and know we're doing the best we can. And maybe ask ourselves those hard-to-answer questions every so often to do a little inventory on why we do or don't do things a certain way - maybe we'll find that we're not doing the best we can. God is not a God of change - HE stays the same  yesterday, today and tomorrow... and yet I find it interesting that He is continually changing and shaping us.  I think its great to take personal "inventory" on even these lesser issues in life. 


So again, this was literally a 'rant' on my part. I know this was a long post. Sorry... I actually shortened it, believe it or not. 
Its something I've become genuinely annoyed with over the past 6 years {and I know I do get annoyed easily, so maybe its just me} and thought I'd share my unsolicited opinion to you, the Internet world :) 




15 {comments}:

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates said...

I have yet to come across blog posts about cleaning homes (or not). I don't seem to be reading blogs writing about that!

Krista said...

I feel like I have come across this in random blogs before too... But regardless, I think it is a good thing to address because I think it can be a common insecurity for house wives. (Maybe not...?) You know, comparing ourselves and what we accomplish in a day to other wives/moms. I know I fall in to this trap sometimes. So this was a good reminder for me to stay on the track of doing what works for my family, what my husband loves, and not to worry about what other families are doing, or what people might think when they come to visit.

Erin said...

I'm not reading the same blog circle as you, either, I suppose!
But, I say, one can only do so much. And, it's what works for your family. Some people would rather do that extra craft or project, rather than do the dish. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. Our big thing around here is having good food. That's what matters more to me & Scott, more than having a clean kitchen. And, we make the choice. And, we are okay with it! (Even though it does get discouraging sometimes, when you dish mountain is piling so high from meal to meal, you wonder how you'll ever see the other side!)

Stef said...

Some of them are actually well known, popular blogs too. Its just the kind I've decided to stop reading because after a while, it just becomes pointless.
Krista, I feel the same way!

Jessica said...

I loved this post even though I don't have the context of these blogs either!! But the concept can be applied to ANY area of our lives, especially with us women!! Thanks for that righteousness reminder...that bitter root of putting others down to lift us high. :(

And I really really like your questions that you ask yourself whenever you read something...especially blogs! Although I feel like mine don't usually have a valuable lesson to them. :/ But thanks for commenting anyway! ;)

Snooley said...

Have read a few of suh posts but usually skip them :) unfortunately can't skip the live conversations this is definately a balance we all need to evaluate in our own lives - time spent especilaly (as I sit here on my iPhone and Leo plays by himself!)

Emily said...

I've found them, too. And I don't read them anymore.
Keeping an orderly house is not easy, but I have found that my entire family is happier and more relaxed if I do keep the house tidy. Every morning I do a once-over of the whole downstairs...never mind, you've inspired me to post about my cleaning strategies. LOL!

Erin said...

Here's a post I liked about priorities.
http://www.aholyexperience.com/2010/08/when-your-trying-to-get-your-priorities.html
She's not saying it's bad to have a clean house. But, that sometimes it just doesn't happen!

Stef said...

Emily, I think I'll enjoy reading your post :)

Jessica said...

I can remember being in the locker room at Biola University hearing a group of then older gals (probably my age now) talking. One of the ladies said something like this, "Yea when we lived in Germany [as missionaries] those women would keep their houses so spotless. I mean I would go to their houses and be shocked at how clean they were - even the floors. But then I realized that all they had were clean floors and at least I was a Christian and had God."

Shocking, I know. A missionary to a group of people wearing God around her neck like some prized possession because she obviously felt insufficient about her own housekeeping skills. More than that, she was almost happy about it. "They will still go to hell with their clean floors, but I am better!"
Oh, the bizarre and horrible things we say when we are not truly satisfied (and secure) in the ways God is asking us to be.

Carrie said...

I agree with Jessica in that this could apply to any area of our lives.

It seems as mothers the decisions we make are so personal and important to us that it is tempting to judge others for not making a similar decision. Like to stay home or not stay home, breast feed or not, do dishes or blog about not doing them ;-)

The big picture, of course, is that we are all just doing what we can with what we have. Any combination of these decisions will arrive us all to the same end. It would be so nice if more mothers would be shoulder to lean on rather than a silent competitor. Life is hard enough.

In my house, I love order, everything in it's place and my daughter loves to be a tornado. I struggle to get that child to pick up a thing and even more now. How do you tell your baby (alright, she's four) fresh from chemo that her room is a mess and she can't play until it's clean? I'm currently getting a Fail on discipline.

Stef said...

Wow! I'm blown away by so much of your feedback! See... when I was hesitating on writing this post, I kept feeling this 'nudge' and after making some adjustments, I think I can safely say the nudges were the Holy Spirit :)
Jessi and Carrie, yes! I completely agree with you both. Jessi, THAT'S the kind of conversations I see and hear taking place and it makes me so sad. Lets put these people down or this group of people down to make ourselves feel better... never even asking if the way we think or do things is the right way, or if maybe WE need to improve things a bit or reevaluate.

And you have to be careful because we can be really crafty with the way we word things. Making sure it comes off sounding like we're totally okay with our way and totally not worried about someone else... but we are.

I've read some blogs that have been SO helpful to me; so encouraging and thought provoking and full of that good ol' every day wisdom. And then I've read some I wish I had never seen.

Charlotte said...

Getting my comment in a little late because of the homeschooling starting up this week...

I am not seeing much of this type of talk on blogs I visit, and if I did it would probably bug me. I am called to be a wife and mother and one of the top things on that list is taking care of the house.

I have a friend whose husband is a pastor and she told me that once when they were candidating at a church, one of the older women came up to her and asked her what her area of expertise in ministry was. At the time she had 3 children, ages 7 and under. She started saying something like, "being at home, caring for my husband and children..." the lady interrupted and started putting pressure on her to start a Bible study or some type of outreach and admonished her for being at home so much! That bugged her and when I heard it, didn't sit too well with me. I have nothing against ministries outside of the home, but right now I am mostly home and know that is the place I need to be right now. I have a whole future ahead of me for more 'outside' ministries!

And I agree, this idea of 'idolization' can apply to anything, not just a perfectly clean house. Time spent on the computer, reading a novel, or watching TV can take away the time God has given us. None of those things are bad, but can be abused.

Great post, Stef!

Carrie said...

I agree with Jessica in that this could apply to any area of our lives.

It seems as mothers the decisions we make are so personal and important to us that it is tempting to judge others for not making a similar decision. Like to stay home or not stay home, breast feed or not, do dishes or blog about not doing them ;-)

The big picture, of course, is that we are all just doing what we can with what we have. Any combination of these decisions will arrive us all to the same end. It would be so nice if more mothers would be shoulder to lean on rather than a silent competitor. Life is hard enough.

In my house, I love order, everything in it's place and my daughter loves to be a tornado. I struggle to get that child to pick up a thing and even more now. How do you tell your baby (alright, she's four) fresh from chemo that her room is a mess and she can't play until it's clean? I'm currently getting a Fail on discipline.

Charlotte said...

Getting my comment in a little late because of the homeschooling starting up this week...

I am not seeing much of this type of talk on blogs I visit, and if I did it would probably bug me. I am called to be a wife and mother and one of the top things on that list is taking care of the house.

I have a friend whose husband is a pastor and she told me that once when they were candidating at a church, one of the older women came up to her and asked her what her area of expertise in ministry was. At the time she had 3 children, ages 7 and under. She started saying something like, "being at home, caring for my husband and children..." the lady interrupted and started putting pressure on her to start a Bible study or some type of outreach and admonished her for being at home so much! That bugged her and when I heard it, didn't sit too well with me. I have nothing against ministries outside of the home, but right now I am mostly home and know that is the place I need to be right now. I have a whole future ahead of me for more 'outside' ministries!

And I agree, this idea of 'idolization' can apply to anything, not just a perfectly clean house. Time spent on the computer, reading a novel, or watching TV can take away the time God has given us. None of those things are bad, but can be abused.

Great post, Stef!

 

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