I am doing quite a bit of hosting over the next few days-- a bridal shower, then family Thanksgiving dinner. As a result I have spent the last few days 'prepping' my house...cleaning, polishing, arranging, setting, fluffing. And somewhere along the way I lost my joy.
I came to the painful realization that my focus had switched to how things appear to people who don't live here, as opposed to kindness to the ones who do. It got me started thinking about the purpose of my 'homemaking' and 'home keeping.' I realize many reading this work outside the home and your division of labor looks different, but in my family my husband works hard outside the home and I am the manager of what goes on within.
When we were married, I pledged to my husband that I wanted our home to always be a place of peace and rest. That's easier said than done with four pets and three 8 year olds, but I try. The fact that the kids are in school has given me a renewed ability to focus on order and tidiness, but as I began to anticipate them coming home for a 10 day break I realized that a part of me was struggling with the disorder and chaos it was going to bring to my relatively quiet daily life.
What started as really good intentions--creating a refuge for my husband and children from the world--became about my need for order and control. There is so much of life that is unpredictable, I have come to embrace the security I feel from being in control in my home. It is such a slippery slope.
Realistically, I am not about to give up and allow things to turn into a pigsty around here. I don't think my husband or children would appreciate that at all. I have, however, come to the conclusion that there is a lot of room between hypervigilant housewife and a dirty, disorderly home.
I want to model hard work for my children. I want them to remember that I served in this way...but I don't want them to resent it. I also don't want to allow the Enemy to twist my once pure motives into greedy/self fulfilling ones.
I have been pondering all afternoon how to pull that off--and I keep coming back to love, joy & grace. I am thankful for this reminder to pause and check my heart. (Better at the beginning of a week long break than at the end, right?) Is my motive about service and love or a selfish need to 'have it together.' Is this drudgery that causes me to resent the very ones I set out to honor? Can I hold myself to a standard of grace rather than perfection?
As I was praying through a lot of this today I came across this quote.
"Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except love." Billy Graham
It reminded me of the old favorite 1 Corinthians 13...and the corresponding thought: Without love I am just a nagging wife, a grumpy Mom, a house slave. That is not the best me. So today, I choose love...even if it means a few piles and dirty footprints. What my children will remember more than how my home looked is how they felt when they were here.