Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Cleanliness is next to godliness. - said no Bible, ever.

As a teenager I worked one summer as a room maid for a resort hotel. My girl friend, Gee, and I got jobs there partly because employees had free use of the water park. I think Gee & I only used the water park once or twice. When our shifts ended we just wanted to get out of there.

Being a maid is not very taxing work. We were armed with a checklist of what needed to be done and in what order and, for most rooms, if you followed the checklist the room got clean lickety-split. On to the next one. There were exceptions, of course. Some people trash hotel rooms. In those cases management is notified and getting the room back in order becomes a team effort.

Point is, cleaning should not get your undies in a bundle. Sometimes cleaning becomes over-analyzed and you start to take it personally. Then instead of a task that can be easily completed when approached methodically, every wipe and every swipe bears some incredible amount of significance. Drama and hand-wringing follow. "Oh, whatever shall we do! The TV needs dusting! Woe, woe is me." In a marriage this often turns into a power struggle - the "good" spouse does the cleaning.

My in-laws fought so much over housework they even separated for a time.

They were both serious neat-freaks.

This has been to my benefit, as I married their son who was sick to death of having to keep his room spotless at all times. I'm okay with him leaving his clothes on the floor. He appreciates that. I realize the dirty clothes will get picked up, eventually, either by him or me. We don't keep track of whose turn it is. It isn't a competition.

I'm not saying neglect is okay. No! Not at all. We are not animals. Cleanliness and order make a comfortable home. Filth invites vermin and odors. I really can't stand either so I will do what it takes to prevent it. But whether or not my TV is dusty or my husband's socks are on the floor has no moral bearing. It is just a task that needs to be done.

When morality gets involved, and cleanliness becomes less about comfort & hygiene and more about spiritual superiority, your home has become your idol. Its "cleanliness" a reflection of your spotless, obedient soul. An outward sign of inward glory. Pride & idolatry go hand in hand.

There isn't much that can be done about it. We are sinners. We sin. We do the right thing for a thousand wrong reasons. Confess, repent, try try again. Try not to judge other peoples standards, whether too clean or too messy. It just doesn't matter.

What saved my in-laws marriage was hiring a housekeeper. Instead of fighting over who left a fingerprint on the refrigerator, they'd shrug and say, "Let Terri get it on Thursday."

St. Zita, patron saint of housekeepers. She'll help you find your keys. Of course, if your house wasn't so messy you wouldn't have lost them. A place for everything and everything in its place. ;-)

No comments: