It sparkled. It gleamed. I stood over it, mop in hand, gazing at my own spectacular reflection. Yes, ma’am, that floor was clean. And I adored it. For about 10 seconds.
Splat! A glob of mandarin oranges landed at my feet.
“Aw, come on!” I roared. “Mommy just scrubbed the floor!” The baby half-smiled, taunting me from her high chair, where I’d buckled her safely away from my mopping path. This was her revenge.
“Uh-oh!” she said, as if it were an accident—yeah, right. Just then, her older sister zoomed through the kitchen on a riding toy, chugging straight through that heap of orange mess. Plastic wheels dragged a streak of citrus juice across my pristine floor.
Yep, I thought. This is my life.
I’m a neat freak. I like a clean house, fresh clothes, and daily shampooed hair. I brush my teeth after every meal and wash my hands incessantly. I’m afraid of germs, dirt, sticky fingers, and dog licks.
Even as a teenager, I vacuumed my room every Saturday and cried when my sisters deliberately ground their sock prints into my carpet fibers as soon as I was done. Oh, and remember the old Charlie Brown cartoons? I still cringe when Pig-Pen trails across the screen in his disgusting puff of dust. That guy flat-out scares me.
A healthy bent toward tidiness isn’t bad. It’s a responsible, grown-up trait. The problem is, tidy is tough to maintain with kids. As soon as I pick up a stack of toys, my children haul out another disaster to spread across the room. While I wipe peanut butter off the babe’s face, she grabs a cracker and crumbles it in her shoe.
Clothes stain, food spills, piles accumulate, and daughters get Elmer’s glue in their hair. In my house, messy is a perpetual state no matter how I attempt to correct it.
But therein lies the problem. What am I correcting, exactly? Correcting implies there’s something wrong. And there is—with me. Some days I spend more time cleaning up after my family than I do enjoying my family. That is not how Jesus lived.
Jesus got dirty. He traveled dusty roads. He healed lepers. He washed his disciples’ feet. He pressed his lips to communal drinking cups. He was not afraid to touch disease, to hold grubby children in his arms, or to be swarmed by hoards of human beings in an era before antiperspirant, indoor plumbing, or Hoover steam vacs. In order to reach people’s hearts, Jesus got up close and personal with their grime.
Am I willing to do that? When my daughter snuggles her cookie-crumb face into my shoulder, am I relishing the affection or worrying about soggy Oreo smudges? If my girls beg me to make mud pies, do I dig in and share their laughter or stand ready with the hose to spray them down?
Last night, my husband offered to cook dinner. I could’ve relaxed and enjoyed the break, but instead I nagged him to double-rinse the carrots. What is my problem?
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth,” (John 1:14).
The Word became flesh. Doesn’t that just boggle your mind? Jesus is God. Holy, immaculate, glorious God! God didn’t have to humble himself in human form, descending to Earth to live among filthy, sick, unkempt people. All those fishing boats and upper rooms—seriously, they couldn’t have smelled very good.
But he came. He lived a perfect life in an imperfect, germ-infested, post-Eden environment. He made his dwelling among us, in order to save us from ourselves. And that includes my irritating compulsion to pick up toys.
I want to invest in souls, not soap. The first step is to remember God loves me whether my floor is shiny or not. It’s time to seek a little less mop sparkle and a lot more glory of the One and Only.
The mandarin orange fiasco was my own fault. Next time, I’ll stick with Teddy Grahams. Better yet, I’ll hang up the mop and make a few mud pies instead. And when my baby girl drops a Teddy in the sludge and pops it right back into her mouth, I’ll pray for the impulse to laugh.
Yes, Lord, there’s no avoiding the mess. But I’m starting to see you in the midst of it, so it’s not that scary after all.
If you like this post, you might also like Sandy Grass. Hmmm. . . this seems to be one of my recurring
mental issues topics. Blessings to those of you who can relate!