Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Why, you dirty rotten...

Jewel's room would make Oscar the Grouch proud. He loves messes and apparently so does she. We just spent the last week in another round of purge-the-room and once again I found myself explaining the whys of cleaning, organization, and taking good care of our things. Lest you think me a housecleaning perfectionist, I'm not talking sparkling clean surfaces or bare-minimum furnishings. I'm talking about cleaning so you can wear something besides your Walmart crocs instead of one of every pair of shoes is in the bottom of your toy box. She used to tell me, "When I'm big and you're little, I'm just gonna throw my trash on the floor!"

April is National Tackle Your Clutter Month and I think with good reason. I mean who among us, when digging out all the junk for taxes, doesn't think "I really need to get rid of some stuff." Or who when warm spring days coax us from hibernation doesn't wonder, "Why do I have so much stuff? Where did all this come from?" Spring is a great time to "tackle your clutter".

My kids have taught me about another kind of mess--the clutter that often fills our hearts. I once read an article about praying for our kids in three areas--the good, the bad, and the ugly. As I've seen my kids grow and as I've learned more about personality, I think the author had a good point. But I don't think it applies just to our kids. I think we all have a little good, bad, and ugly within us. We all can see the good in ourselves or in our kids. Let's celebrate that. You know, the stuff that you put in your Facebook status updates that gets all the thumbs-up "likes". Thinking of your house, these are the areas that are looking good. The rooms that are cleaned up, smelling fine and company-ready.

But what about the bad? I think these usually are personality strengths taken too far. Leadership that becomes control. Justice that never allows for grace. Playfulness that morphs into biting sarcasm. In our kids it comes across the same, we just use different names--bossy, inflexible, sassy. That is why it is so important to understand all the facets of your personality and the personalities of those under your care. You need to know your strengths to know your weaknesses. Clean out the clutter by recognizing any tendencies you have to take an aspect of your personality to the extreme. In your home, these are those areas that tend to get cluttered because of day-to-day use. The coffee table, the kitchen counter, the family room. Usually all it takes is a quick straightening of things and you are ready to entertain in a moment's notice.

Now let's talk ugly. You probably don't need me to tell you what your "uglies" are. And it seems as though uglies get passed down just blue eyes and Grandma's china. They are those areas of your life that would make any grouch proud. Maybe it is your attitude that you are just a little bit better than everyone else. Maybe it's a secret sin that you know doesn't please God, but you're just not willing to give up. Maybe it is the way you talk; or gossip; or hold a grudge. Maybe it is an anger problem; or lust; or an addiction. You know what it is--the stuff you hide from your pastor, your friends, your spouse. The ugly things no one knows about except maybe your family when you let something slip. In our kids, they look just the same, but they usually aren't as adept at hiding it. This goes beyond clutter to ground-in, rot-producing dirt. In your home these might be behind the toilet during little boy potty training. Or the far recesses of the coat closet in summer. Maybe your unfinished, prone-to-flooding basement. Or the dusty top of the refrigerator.

In honor of the Tackle Your Clutter Month, why don't you get alone with God and ask Him to show you the good, the bad, and the ugly about yourself. Then jump in and de-clutter your soul. Then you can start over with your kids.

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