>A Real Lady

>“A real lady always keeps her house clean and organized, the laundry basket is always empty. She’s always well dressed, hair done. She never swears, behaves gracefully in all situations and all circumstances. She has more than enough patience to take care of her family, always has a smile on her lips, and a kind word for everyone. Post this as your status if you, too, suspect that you might be a man.”
(borrowed from the facebook status of a friend) 

When I first was married I kept an immaculate house. People would comment that you could eat off of my kitchen floors, and truthfully you probably could. When people would come to visit I would lliterally follow behind them with a broom and dust pan and clean up the dirt that they tracked in right behind them. If a glass was set down on the coffee table or end table it was picked up by me and washed and returned to the cabinet before the person even noticed it was missing (used to drive my husband nuts). You see I come from a long line of neat freak perfectionist on my mother’s side of the family and well honestly so is my father. You can go into his shop and everything has it’s place and is labeled as to what drawer what tool goes in. 

I maintained this standard of cleanliness, driving myself and I am sure everyone else crazy. Then we began attending church and then my life was radically changed. I began studying the Word of God for hours at a time and then I began teaching. Then we got custody of our oldest and she moved in with us from North Carolina and also our youngest was born at this same time. We went from a small trailer and a family of three/sometimes four to a house and a full-time family of five that included a teenager, a toddler, and a newborn.

I was teaching Sunday School and then the Lord called me to teach a Sunday night class and then also at this time He called me to not just take Precept classes, but to teach them. Something had to go. It was a Mary vs Martha moment (Luke 10:38-42). I had a choice to make between an immaculately clean home or sitting at the feet of my Lord. There was no way I could do both and maintain any resemblance of sanity in my home. I wish I could say this was an immediate easy transition, but it wasn’t. 

As I said it was in my nature to be clean, not just picked up, but cloroxed doors and base boards once a month, and floors and bathrooms cleaned daily, dishes always done, laundry always going, beds always made, no dust ever in sight. Clutter and muck would physically affect me. If things got to cluttered around me, my temperament became cluttered. I shutter to think of the “Momma rampages” my children have endured because of a messy house as I would become frustrated, irritated, and jumpy. It still does this to me at at times.

So I would fight the guilt of a not perfect home. If I ever made the mistake of saying, ‘well I’ll just start a load before my quiet time’, then the next thing I would know the kids would be up and I would be scrubbing the toilet while my Bible still lay unopened on the kitchen table. Then would come the guilt of realizing I had chosen wrong. Now I was irritated for the rest of the day because with kids up, I would not get my “quiet time.” I had missed my opportunity to sit at Jesus’s feet because of a load of laundry. Yes, this still happens to me at times.  

I love the many ways that God uses His church. He brings us together for a purpose and that purpose is for our benefit. If you are forsaking the assembly, stop. If you attend church as a check list and never get involved relationally with those who are around you, stop. God has built His church, He has designed it in such a way that the gates of hell cannot touch it. He did this because we need His church. We need each other. In so many ways, take the plunge my friend, stop forsaking the assembly for whatever reason you have and stop just getting in and out as quickly as possible. Make friends. Join a small group. Attend the functions. Get involved. Trust me it is for your benefit.

As I was struggling with my Mary vs Martha moment (that really has not been a moment but a work in progress) the Lord placed wonderful women in my life who helped me get perspective and peace. Oh how I needed these women, how I still need them.

One of my now dearest friends invited us over to their home to go swimming. I was a nervous wreck and only called to see if we could come on this day because it was so freaking hot outside and my child was driving me crazy. Making friends was hard for me. I didn’t have a very big trust factor in people at this time. But I called, she said come on over, so we did.

We walked in and the house was a wreck, like mine, but she hadn’t felt the need to go into the mad rush of crazy screaming at everyone while cleaning because company was coming over. She was just real. She jokes that God has given her the ministry of making others feel better about their own house. The truth is God has given that to her as a ministry. I am not sure if she even to this day understands the load that the Lord was able to finally lift off of my shoulders because of her.  

So now ten years later, the priority in the house cleaning is to make sure nothing is growing in the fridge. It is to make sure there is at least a path through the toys to get to the door in case the house catches on fire. It is to clean the toilet when that nasty ring shows up around the top of the water. It is to wash the dishes when we can’t use either side of the sink because both are full. It’s to clean the floor when we can’t find the hardwood underneath the dog hair. It’s to do laundry when we run out of towels and clean underwear. It’s to find the dining room table when company is coming for dinner. It’s to make the beds when we are going to be out of town and they won’t be slept in for a few days (gotta make it worth it, right). And it’s maybe once every couple of months doing everything all in the same day just to remind myself (and my husband) that I could still keep an immaculate house if I wanted to.  

Yes, I still have those moments where Martha wins over Mary… but they grow less and less and that’s what walking in victory is all about, getting better one step at a time, one day at time, always pressing forward.