The other day I woke up and didn’t want to get out of bed. Laundry was piled in all corners, stacks of miscellaneous items littered the house, and dust a mile high (a slight exaggeration) coated my fan blades. I put my head under my pillow and tried to hide. Too much. It’s too much. I was completely overwhelmed.
In my attempt to hide, God spoke to me. “Clean your house.” I know that could have been my conscience, after all, I wanted to be lazy, but it was the words that followed that made me sure of the Source. “You’re life right now represents your house. Clean up the physical world, and it will straighten the spiritual.” I know that sounds weird. It sounds like something hokey that someone would say as they faded in and out on a cloud of reality and dreams, but I felt it. Deeply. And despite my weakness and absolute dislike of the task at hand, I got up with resolve to clean my house.
I started with laundry, the least daunting of the tasks before me. I enlisted the girls to help. If we each did our part we could have it done in no time. The kitchen was looking better, the living room was straightened, and Lily’s room was tidy and neat (there are indeed perks to having a child who is slightly OCD). Then, I walked to Maddie’s room. She was on her bed, listening to her iPod. Nothing had changed.
Resisting the urge to scream, I told her to get up and clean and that she wasn’t going to be able to leave her room until it was done! She didn’t like that idea, and in a huff and true preteen attitude, she swept her arm across the top of her counter and watched it fall to the floor. I gasped! Then I watched as she got down on her hands and knees and started sorting through her stuff, finding a place for each and every item. Her method didn’t make sense but the result was the same.
She had a pile in the corner that she reserved as “trash.” I was relocating it to a trash bag when I found a wadded up mess of jewelry. Costume jewelry. I looked at it and considered throwing it away. It had little to no value, and I doubted I could make sense of it. It was overwhelming tolook at much less to consider unraveling. But, at the point I was going to toss it, I heard His voice again, “Overwhelming? Worthless? Take the time to unravel it.” I knew it would take time. I was on a mission to clean and this was going to take precious time that honestly I didn’t have. But He beckoned.
Resolved, I sat on the floor, Maddie having left and taken up playing with her sister and friends, and began to inspect the lump of chains. Slowly but surely the mess began to make sense. I figured out that it was an entanglement of four necklaces and a bracelet. In the stillness, I found it a challenge to find exactly how each chain made it’s way around the other. And, as each kink released and the wad looked more like a tangle, I felt a sense of accomplishment. It took a full thirty minutes to have each chain unworked and set aside. At the end of that time, I smiled. The time had been worth the work, but where was the reward? Not that I needed one. Those minutes had been spent working out my own tangles, thinking through my relationships and ministry issues and finding peace in the midst of it all.
I heard His voice, and paid attention to the pictures He showed me, and it became clear that all too often we are ready to be rid of the mess. It seems to us far easier to throw it away when it doesn’t fit just right. We base the value of something on itseffectiveness to us, and if it isn’t working then it’s lost its value. Sometimes the work seems too much for the results we are seeing, so we are tempted in our discouragement to let it go. We give up. We want to find another easier, more simple calling or relationship that doesn’t require as much of us. When we can’t see the outcome and all we see is the lump it doesn’t feel as important to us. But, it is important to Him.
My story isn’t over yet. My lesson wasn’t complete until a few minutes later, I had moved onto something else (cleaning up my jewelry box actually), when Maddie came into her room and saw the necklaces. “Mom! I’ve been looking for those forever!” She lit up and I resisted the urge to tell her that she almost threw them away. As she walked off singing some melody, I heard His voice again, “Don’t give up…what you are untangling is the very thing you are looking for…and I promise the joy she feels right now is nothing compared to the joy that is coming.”
I don’t know what that means. But I believe it was His voice, and I know exactly what He is talking about. It would be easy at times to throw in the towel. To simply be and do and not worry about everything else, but that isn’t what I’m here for…and I refuse.