There is something about the condition of the floors in my house that has an extraordinary power over my state of mind. For example, the moment that our bi-monthly house cleaner leaves our house and every inch of the floors are swept and mopped, it is as if I am not walking on hardwood, but rather I am walking on sunshine. I feel relaxed and free; free from the never-ending burden of stuff – broken, spilled and scattered – throughout the nooks and crannies of our home.
The trouble with this situation is that the clean floors (and my accompanying euphoria) don’t last long in a house with six kids, a dog and two cats running in and out and all around all. day. long.
I have often wondered why I have such an obsession over my floors. I don’t remember caring about floors early on in my life. I mean, I did have to vacuum as a kid growing up as part of my weekly chores but it was all within reason and there was no trauma – that I can remember anyway (grin).
Why, now a days, does my gaze innately tend towards looking down?
Maybe it is as simple as a choice? I certainly have a choice as to where I look. I can choose to focus my thoughts and energy on the areas of my life that I can control, like my attitude and how my example is effecting my family, or I can choose to focus on trying to control the uncontrollable.
Now, I’m not suggesting that it would be the right thing to do to allow the kids to be ridiculously messy or that cleaning the floors isn’t necessary. I’m suggesting that we have a choice where to focus our energy each day.
I have a choice whether I am going to let the crumbs and spills of life consume me and allow them to steal my joy and the joy of my family. I think sometimes in our Martha Stewart dreams and Pinterest fantasies that we lose touch with what real life looks like.
Real life is messy, inconvenient, even painful at times. Kids quarrel, husbands fall short, toast gets burnt and the floors get messy. Sometimes all in the same day. Sometimes all at once. The question is not, “When will my floors stay clean?” The answer is not, “If my floors were clean, I would be happy.”
The question is, “Lord, what do you have for me today?”
The answer is, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts…and be thankful.” Col 3:15
So how do we do it? How do we find contentment among the messes? What is the secret?
Paul said in Philippians 4:12 “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret to being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”
Where are you getting your strength? Certainly not from a clean floor, well-behaved kids or a perfect husband! (Although those things are nice.) Our strength – and real joy – comes from leaning on God. Our struggles are meant to draw us near to God – to cause us to stop leaning on our own strength and to start leaning on His.
Think about what your kids are learning when they see you grumpy and irritable because the house is a mess or one of any number of other things aren’t going well. Now think about how you want them to see you. Of course, you want them to see you leaning on God – modeling how to be content in all circumstances.
More is caught than taught. Go ahead, look down, but not at the floors. Get down on your knees. God gives wisdom to all who ask. Ask Him to give you the wisdom and strength to be content.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6:5-7
Marianne Sunderland is a homeschooling mother of 8 lively and adventurous children – 4 boys and 4 girls. Married for more than 20 years, she attributes all of her worldly ‘successes’ to an ever-deepening walk with God. Her heart’s desire is to encourage other wives and mothers and attempts to do so at her blog, Abundant Life.