We now live in a beautiful house we’re working on making our home. Since we were living at an extended-stay hotel, we moved into our house the same day we closed on it. Nate and I were extremely excited to bring our suitcases over and spend our first night in our home – even if it was on an inflatable mattress (that deflated during the night!). But, of course, before I could go to sleep, I had to start cleaning!
I really do not understand how people are able to live the way some people do. I agree – I am a tad obsessive when it comes to cleanliness, but, there are certain things that I just can’t live with. So, even though the house was pretty new, it was dirty!!! That first night, I spent 3 hours just dusting and cleaning the blinds, washing the walls, and cleaning the baseboards and doors in the master bedroom. A couple more hours went into the bathroom, just to get those two rooms clean enough for me to sleep peacefully. The next few days, all I did was clean! Scrubbing, mopping, washing, vacuuming, more scrubbing, dusting, sweeping, shining, disinfecting, and having Mr. Cleaner’s magic eraser become my best friend.
During all those cleaning hours, I did quite a bit of thinking. I may have inhaled too much chlorine, but these are some of those thoughts.
When we first came to see the house, we loved the front, the easy to maintain landscape, the open-floor plan, the 3 full baths, the bedroom downstairs, the large whirlpool tub where Nathan actually fits, and the lovely kitchen, and the neighborhood, and… to wrap it up, we really loved the house! But then, we had the inspection – we put on a different set of shades and started looking for the things that were wrong with the place. We found some. Not many, fortunately, and most were easily repairable – a broken door, and unhooked gutter, a missing cap, a drawer. Nothing was a deal-breaker, and the previous owners agreed to fix everything we asked them to fix, so, all was great! But, once it was time to move in, I noticed the layers of dust on the blinds, the sticky wood floors, the smudges, scratches, scuff marks, and dirt on the walls, windows, baseboards, and doors. Some of it was easy to take care of, some of it was not that easy! Some smudges disappeared after a simple swipe – gone! Others took enough scrubbing to draw blisters on my hands, but I din’t stop until they were gone because it was important to me to have the house up to a certain standard – my standard for cleanliness.
While I was doing all the cleaning, I kept thinking of the house as my life. As anyone’s life, really. I like to think that when most people meet me, they walk away with a good impression. The same impression with which we walked away after seeing the house the first time. But once you start to know me, you may see some things that are not 100% up to part. Some things that require a little bit of work, but hopefully, nothing that would be a deal- breaker. However, I know (and God knows) that I have more than a little smudge that needs scrubbing. But just like with my house, I can’t dust all my blinds, and swipe away all the scuff marks at once. I had to clean one room at a time, after making a priority list. There were times when I had to stop because my hands were sore, or my eyes were watery from the cleaning supplies. But, leaving those marks on the wall or those layers of dust on the fans and blinds was not an option.
If I really believe in heaven and hell. If I really believe that one day I will have to answer to God for everything that I’ve done here on Earth, then, not working on my defects is not an option. The tricky part is that I don’t know how much time I have. I’d like to think that I have many years ahead of me. Many years to do some cleaning, scrubbing, shining, wiping, vacuuming, sweeping, and dusting. But the truth is, I may not have many years, I may not have many days. Just this Sunday, someone who was only 25 years old met his end. He thought he was going out for a run and a swim, but really, he was out to meet His Creator – he just didn’t know it. By the amazing outpouring of prayers, friends’ comments, and memories shared, he was ready to go. He had been busy cleaning his house, and he hadn’t ignored or hidden away the dirt. By reading how his parents are dealing with this unbelievable sad and unexpected situation, it’s easy to see that they knew that their child was living a good life – his house was clean.
Every time we go on a trip, I drive Nathan crazy because I really can’t leave until the house is in order – the dishes are cleaned and put away, there aren’t dirty clothes in the laundry, the beds are made, and the mail put away. Some may think I’m pessimistic, but I always think, “What if I don’t get a chance to come back?” I don’t want anybody else to walk into my house and to think that’s how I chose to live.
What I need to remember is that my life is more important than my house. The way I live, the impressions I make, the way I treat others, the way I treat myself, what I say, what I don’t say, those things matter more than anything else.
A house will always need some cleaning done – before I could finish deep-cleaning all the rooms, my bedroom and bathroom needed cleaning again! And that’s how it is with my character, with my attitude, with my disposition, with myself. Just when I think I have something under control, something else comes up, and the work never ends. I’m just grateful that God sees it fit to give me more time to continue cleaning 🙂