It’ll keep

I’m about to load up the back of my suburban with four or five bags of clothes, shoes, and various other items no longer wanted or needed, the result of two days’ labor to declutter and clean out my closet. This will be my third donation load (maybe more) to our local Downtown Rescue Center thrift store in the past few weeks. I don’t know if it’s spring cleaning or what but I do know this: such prolonged efforts at organization are quite unlike my usual MO. It’s a lot of work, no doubt about it, but it feels good to systematically make my way through the house clearing out and cleaning up, throwing away and giving away, doing what I can, as I can. It’s also proven to be a long, drawn out process; six people accumulate a lot of stuff!

Simplify. Streamline. Slowly. Steadily. This is my goal. Not my reality, not yet.

Even as I type this, there is dog hair covering the floor, dirty dishes filling the sink, laundry begging to be folded, and dust blanketing nearly everything.

Simple does not equal perfect.

In my nearly two decades as housekeeper and home manager, I have struggled to reconcile the way things are and the way I fear things ought to be. I think I’ve told you before that few things make me hate myself like cleaning house. While not unsanitary neither is my house immaculate. Never has been, never will be. Some can and do (and love) such a standard. Me, I go for lived in. Hopefully a little more organized than has been my standard in the past but lived in all the same.

I wrote those words several weeks ago. Despite all those highfalutin’ goals of simplifying and streamlining, life got pretty complicated pretty quickly. And doesn’t it always? Now as I type not only am I once again surrounded by the aforementioned dog hair, dishes, laundry, and dust, but my remaining projects of cleaning up and clearing out are just that: remaining, existing only as items on a post-it note, thwarted by such complicating factors as tornadoes and subsequent power outages, end-of-the-school-year events and obligations, and various other real life responsibilities.

It’ll keep, is what I would say to you if you were lamenting to me the list of things you’d like to do but can’t because of more pressing and present matters. That is the problem, though, is it not? That it does keep when I’d rather it went somewhere, anywhere, so that I needn’t worry over it any longer.

But I’m learning–oh, so slowly, over two decades now and counting–that there is grace. Grace for the things I can do, grace for the things I can’t. One day at a time, seeking this day’s daily bread. Perhaps accomplishing much today, perhaps not so much tomorrow. Numbering my days, seeking a heart of wisdom. Rejecting idleness, resting in His sufficiency in my inadequacy. Making the most of my time, in gratitude and humility, choosing to find joy not in crossing items off my to-do list but in the gracious goodness of the Lord, in His abundant blessings to me, those blessings of life and family, grace and mercy. This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad, even with piles of clothes stashed under the bed awaiting sorting and organizing, trim that needs painting, and clutter languishing in my junk drawers…

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Author: Lisa Spence

Wife, mother, Bible teacher, bibliophile, occasional blogger

7 thoughts on “It’ll keep”

  1. Oh, friend…I know exactly how you feel! Even though I've been "officially" simplifying since January 2008, I'm nowhere near done. Life intervenes & plans get pushed aside in favor of the more pressing things.While I don't have as much clutter as I did (and I count it a victory every time I take another bag to consignment or the thrift store!), I can't stay current with the laundry or the kitchen.All I can say is PRAISE GOD for grace!

  2. I can truly understand what you're saying here. Sounds like my house. I'm so much happier when my house is less cluttered, and I've come a long way from years past, but, still….I'm so very thankful for grace, too. I pray often for the will to be diligent and not waste the time during the day and just get done what that day needs doing.

  3. Wonderful post! I am a sinful perfectionist…but I have had to get over that way of thinking or I would drive everybody in my home crazy. So, yes we have a very nice home…but it is lived in and much messier than what I would like most days. With 4 children and all that goes with that, I have come to understand that I would be a mad woman if I followed everyone around to tidy up after every playtime, every art activity, every meal and snack…so I do what I can and my kids do their jobs to help out and somehow we keep it manageable. Actually, my house looks pretty good most of the time(my husband says), but my perfectionsist attitude sees every crumb and smear and it can really affect my contentment and peace if I let it. I'm learning not to let it…by God's grace. I feel a post of my own coming on this very topic.

  4. I used to think that having a clean house at all times was so very important.. After 22 years of marriage – 2 kids – a couple of shedding dogs.. I have learned that the important things are the husband of 22 years.. My 15 and 13 old daughters that still want to spend time with me (holding on for as long as I can on this) and snuggling with my pooch… The dirt we can get to – nothing lost there.. the moments with our loved ones can be lost..I've Become My MotherI've Become My Mother facebookKelly's IdeasAmazing Salvation

  5. You sound pretty balanced to me Lisa. My rule of thumb is this:If I haven't used it in 12 months and it's not a family heirloom then bye-bye.(Not that I always abide by my own rules πŸ™‚

  6. Oh, good thoughts.I've been in a "purging mood" lately, but there is still so, so much I should do. Part of me would like to completely empty the house out and start over (well, except for the books…), but I don't think the rest of my family would take kindly to that. πŸ™‚

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