Wednesday, March 6, 2013

what spring cleaning has taught me about life

I am knee deep in the Lent cleaning and purging. Here is what I know so far:

First off, spring cleaning is exhausting.

It is tedious.

Paradoxically, it is messy. At least for a little bit.

It seems never ending.

Also? It seems like an exercise in futility. Just as soon as one area is spotless the kids come home from school.

And so it seems a little like a vicious cycle.

But it is also a time to really rethink how you use your home. It is a time to evaluate every single possession. It is a time to be ruthless, and a time to demand total honesty with yourself about your possessions and their function in your house.

Spring cleaning is not just about checking a list off.

It's not about seeing how many bags of stuff can be hauled away.

It's not about spending so much time cleaning that you make everyone else in the house miserable.

Because if I go through this process, simultaneously cleaning things out during this Lent season and deep cleaning every room, and neglect the heart of my home I really only end up with a clean house. A clean house is nice, but if the attitude to get there was terrible then I don't really think it matters too much.

So as I clean I think of a room's purpose and I ask myself if it's being served. I evaluated each object, each piece of paper, each little memento and wonder if I really need it.

I wipe down walls, erase fingerprints, and realize that although it's clean right now, I have to be okay with the fact that it will get messy again in about 5 seconds. But I take the time to do it because I know
I need to take care of my stuff, I recognize that there is tremendous value in being a good steward of my possessions. Cleaning them is certainly part of that.

Honestly, this process is something I kind of want to rush through. I want to get it over with and I find myself cutting corners. But I know I will regret that later, and once it's clean and dealt with I won't have to revisit it for a while.

It's a parallel for life. Sometimes we have to deal with things that are unpleasant and uncomfortable. It's really not very fun to sort through a year's worth of Happy Meal toys and Pet Shops with missing heads. But as we pull through all those layers of junk we get down to the things we really need and love. And when it's' done there's this wonderful feeling of accomplishment. In life we get to deal with the messy and the undone, and not just in our own homes. Relationships need tending, work has its own issues, and sometimes we need to apologize to our neighbors for letting the dog bark all day in the backyard. It's never fun to deal with these messes in life. But when it's over we find ourselves sighing with relief and satisfaction. And so it is worth it.

It doesn't hurt to provide yourself a little incentive along way either. As I've been cleaning I've been allowing myself little indulgences. After tackling my son's room I took myself out for coffee with all the money I found under his bed. Does that make me a bad mom or does that count as payment for a job well done?

Little rewards for a tough job well done are pretty good incentives. And that makes going though all the messes under the beds worth it.

1 comment:

  1. I think spring cleaning is necessary (I know I'm due). I think it causes me (us) to reevaluate and get rid of foolish things we hold on to. spring cleaning always provides me with space- not so much physically, but emotionally and spiritually... it's like i tossed out all the "little gods" i am unaware of that i have lying around.

    and you totally earned the sbux!


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