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.
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 http://usccb.org/bible/books/matthew/4), 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.
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….