The Neat & Tidy Life
I think it was soon after reading Discipline, the Glad Surrender and Ordering Your Private World that I developed the mistaken assumption that Jesus came to make my life neat and tidy. If I was a really good Christian I would follow a schedule, have a daily quiet time, keep up on all household chores, be perfectly consistent in disciplining the children, and always balance work, rest, and play.
Perhaps I was the only one living under these assumptions, but I think that some of these ideas are a reflection of our Western and American culture. We read books on organization and productivity that would leave our African brothers and sisters scratching their heads. I tried to take industrialized, corporate, suggestions and apply them to the home. Most churches in the U.S. look more like corporations and institutionalized schools than they do homes, so why wouldn’t we begin to evaluate our spirituality based on our efficiency as Christians?
God through His Word began to convict my husband Steve and me of several things that went against our American Christian assumptions. And that’s when He started messing with my “well-ordered” world.
Recognizing and embracing God’s sovereignty over the womb was the first area of challenge. I am one of those women for whom pregnancy is very taxing. I experience stereotypical first trimester symptoms and have been known to want to sleep up to sixteen hours in a day in the early months of a pregnancy. As a small person who has large babies, the end of pregnancy is neither comfortable nor a time of much mobility. Now why would Jesus call me to do something so disruptive to my family’s household routine?
Homeschooling certainly didn’t multiply the hours in my day. Beyond the cloud of emotional discouragement that most homeschooling moms tend to live under, keeping many children home all day, and keeping them engaged in learning, is a lot of hard work and rarely is the work accomplished efficiently. Think: Octopus arms needed. Believe me, the idea of putting my children on a bus to have a few hours to catch up on everything else was appealing on many days.
As our understanding of hospitality grew from an idea of “entertaining” others to sharing our life with them, so did the messiness. People are rarely convenient. They tend to have needs at the most inopportune times. The more we practice hospitality and service, the less we seem to be able to achieve that “well-ordered” life I imagined in my twenties. Our dining room is busting at the seams and often spills into the living room and sunroom because we simply do not have enough room to sit around the table. Many people make many messes. Things get broken. You get tired from making preparations. Sometimes you have to hide a yawn behind your hand. Hospitality is hard work, but it is gospel work.
A Messy Blessing
The circumstance that finally opened my eyes to my wrong assumptions was suffering. For many years I have struggled with a variety of symptoms, including significant fatigue. For a long time I assumed that I was simply unspiritual, lazy, and undisciplined. Recently I had blood work that explained several underlying causes, as in “these are some of the lowest numbers I’ve seen” kind of results. It was the last blow to my ”Jesus came to make me productive” thinking. I finally recognized it for what that kind of thinking is—thinly-veiled selfishness. Jesus loves me and wants me to love others. Loving others is a messy thing. It is physically, emotionally, and mentally messy. Jesus messed up my life and it is glorious, beautiful, and a much better way to live.
This article first appeared in the HomeWise column of Every Thought Captive magazine. SUBSCRIBE TODAY!
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