Cleaning Timing

A few weeks ago, Ben was coming home from a trip. It was a short one, thank goodness, but I still felt like the house could use a bit of a pick-me-up. It was a Saturday morning and he wasn’t due home until around dinner time. Perfect. The kids usually get to watch a little television on Saturday mornings so that was the perfect time to clean the bathrooms.

Obviously not my bathroom, much too sparkly. No finger prints from inquisitive children
Obviously not my bathroom, much too sparkly. No finger prints from inquisitive children

Cleaning the bathrooms is always my most dreaded part of the day, even though it doesn’t take that long. Surprisingly enough, it is also the task I derive the most satisfaction from accomplishing. Even though this is the case, the likelihood of me actually undertaking the chore past 11am is extremely slim.

Did I get the bathrooms cleaned during the 30 minute window of cartoons? No, of course not (probably wouldn’t  be writing a blog post about it if I did). Did I get them cleaned before the self-imposed, completely arbitrary and utterly ridiculous deadline of 11am? Again, no.

There I was at 2:30pm, standing in the kitchen. John and Rosie were both napping (the heavens had aligned as never before, just kidding, but it is becoming a rarer occasion as John gets older). Clare was happily amusing herself with a sock, a baby doll and a plastic hammer. A prudent and industrious person would be found cleaning the bathrooms as was her intent all day long. But alas, as the opening sentence to this paragraph stated, I was in the kitchen. Not only was I not in the kitchen, I was contemplating something rather absurd. I was standing there, wondering what to do, knowing I should be cleaning the bathroom, but instead started crafting this blog post in my head about how easy it is to make obscure and unnecessary rules to help us avoid tasks that need to get done and all the ways we procrastinate. I was procrastinating with a blog post about procrastinating!

At a certain point I felt quite foolish and went to clean a bathroom, inwardly laughing at myself and feeling rather ashamed at my lack of motivation and discipline. I only got one bathroom done, you can only expect a 7 month old to amuse her self for a completely unknowable period of time.

Even though I only got one of two bathrooms cleaned, it still felt good that 1. I actually pulled myself out of my silly rules and undisciplined self and 2. I accomplished the task.

It is a funny thing, we humans do. We create rules, structures, disciplines and un-disciplines with which we try to run our lives.  Any way that we can control our situations, experiences and tasks provides us with a sense of stability and routine. It shelters certain areas of our lives from other parts, differentiates one part from the other. My “rule” (which upon reflection and realization of it’s existence, I should probably be rid of) not to clean after 11am is one way to protect my evenings after the kids go to bed but most especially, my precious few minutes alone during nap time. There are healthier ways to do this, like actually cleaning when I mean to instead of procrastinating. Novel!

Some people aren’t procrastinators, God bless them. I don’t understand them but I do wish I could be more like them and I try to be. It’s hard work. I’m so thankful that the apostles were not procrastinators. Imagine if Peter was. Jesus calls Peter to leave his fishing nets and follow him, immediately. Not in an hour, not tomorrow, not after you’ve finished your task. When I read the story (see Matthew 4:18-22, Matthew tells us that Jesus was walking along the sea and called out to Peter and his brother, Andrew. Matthew never says that Jesus stops walking. Close your eyes and picture it (after you finish reading I suppose): Jesus is walking along and he calls out to follow him, but he doesn’t stop to wait to see if you do or not. He just keeps walking at the same steady pace. What would you do? Would you wait, procrastinate, or even turn away? Or would you put down what you were doing and join in step behind Jesus.

I love this picture because you can really feel the movement of Jesus walking past.
I love this picture because you can really feel the movement of Jesus walking past.

Think about Mary. When the angel Gabriel came to Mary, he did not ask her to be the mother of Jesus in a few years, or when she and Joseph were officially married, or even to think on it for a few days. No, Mary made her decision in that very moment, demonstrating her obedience and her faithfulness to God and His will. Mary was not a procrastinator.

It’s tough, it’s so tough. Every day it’s a choice. Often, it’s a choice we have to make again and again every day. We usually know the right choice to make, we just don’t want to make it or don’t want to make it in that moment. I’ll volunteer later, I’ll commit to a parish when I’m older, I’ll join a bible study next year, continue to fill in the blanks. If you feel Jesus is calling you to something, he probably isn’t calling you to procrastinate about it.

And don’t worry, I’m not writing this while I procrastinate about cleaning the bathrooms….but I haven’t emptied the dishwasher yet….

Faith in the Shadow of a Mountain

 Faith the size of a mustard seed

Faith can be super easy, especially when things are bright and cheery. It is easy to see how God is working in your life when everything is going well – you managed to clean your house, your kids are getting along for more than 3 minutes at a time and actually remembered to say “please” and “excuse me.” You or your spouse just got a raise at work and you are planning a weekend away to celebrate. You just paid off a car. Your son just got accepted to the college of his choice plus got the scholarship necessary to get him there. Your daughter just scored the winning goal in her soccer tournament, boosting her confidence in her athletic ability. You can really feel something when you go to church and father’s homily this week was as if it was designed for you. Yes, life is good.

But sometimes life isn’t so good. Sometimes, it might feel like there is a mountain in your way, blocking out all the light so all you can see are shadows shifting in the dimly lit valley. You forgot to pay the credit card this month. Your kids are fighting constantly and one is starting to talk back with harsh, hurtful words. You or your spouse just lost a job or there is a real threat that it could happen. You did not get accepted into the position you were hoping for. The baby refuses to sleep for more than 2 hours at a time during the night and you couldn’t figure out what was wrong. You go to church but don’t feel any connection. You do the motions but your soul isn’t on fire, your heart is apathetic, your mind is elsewhere. So many things can happen that are outside of your control and you feel as if everything is spiraling down into a meaningless, disorganized, futile mess.

There is a constant hidden within both of these rather polar images. Underneath the perfection and the destruction is God. Under the organization and the chaotic whirlwind is Christ. Under the model behavior and blatant disrespect is the Holy Spirit. Whether you feel it or not, each time you receive the Eucharist you are consuming the King of the Universe, becoming intimately united with the Savior of the world and of your life.

The God who loves you, made you, and has a specific purpose for you remains with you through it all, even when it seems as if all hope is lost. When the mountain appears too hard to climb, God is there, reminding you that if you have the faith of but a mustard seed, mountains can and will crumble.

***I am dedicating this post to a dear friend of mine who in the very near future will be standing at the bottom of one of her highest mountains. Her husband is deploying for a year while she remains at home with two small children, one just barely 5 months old. This is a mountain that all too many before her have faced and more will face it yet, but this knowledge does not make it any easier to climb. If you have a moment as you read this post, please lift up my friend and her family, for the safety of her husband, and for all of our military brothers and sisters who so honorably and selflessly answer the call of our nation.

Photo found via Pintrist, this is not my friend nor do I know this couple
Photo found via Pinterest, this is not my friend nor do I know this couple