Sandy Reddish divides her time between being a military wife to a solider who is deployed, part-time speech language pathologist, and a mother of three wild children. New to the world of blogging, she writes in spurts from the insane trenches of temporary single parenthood…
The pristine corridors of the temple feel therapeutic as I tiptoe to the locker room. I exult in the lean long white lockers with not a hand print anywhere. I breathe deeply as I listen to the sound of silence after gently closing the door, realizing no one is screaming at me. The marble floors are spotless and I didn’t trip on a single Lego.
When I used to read the admonition to “set your house in order,” and that “cleanliness is next to godliness” I took these admonitions as my mantra regarding my home. I spent my days endlessly following my children around like a maid gone mad. I would not let myself do ANYTHING until my house was in perfect order and all the housework was done.
My second child grew up looking more at my backside than any other body part as I cleaned, vacuumed, and scrubbed, only to wake up and do it all again the next day. Being a maid for two summers in college can make you a bit obsessive about what a house should look like. It took baby number three, several promptings from the Holy Ghost, and many pep talks from my husband before I began to understand what order could really mean.
As I peek around the computer to glance around my living room, I see that it looks like the local landfill. There is a trail from the front door to the kitchen table, beginning with a jacket, papers, dirty socks, and a splattering of school supplies. A lone cracker lies smashed into the table, sticky from the pool of milk puddled nearby, jostling with the peanut butter smeared into the chairs for my attention. The sliding glass door is covered with hand prints and there is an explosion of dirty shoes in a pile of sand and dirt on the floor. This all occurred since I logged on thirty minutes ago, and this is just two rooms of the house.
Please don’t get me wrong. At least once a week (or a month) I finally launch into cleaning mode and my house will look great, spotless even. But I have come to grips with cleanliness lasting as long as it takes two toddlers to dump a full bottle of canola oil onto my linoleum, six people to devour lunch and leave, and eight children to have a fight with the six bags of “shredded” mail sitting in the hallway.
But as I try to listen to the Holy Ghost, my mind can gain a sense of what order could really mean. I find a different kind of order in my days than I would have once imagined. No, the socks are not arranged in rainbow order in the drawers, my kitchen counter is rarely visible, and my children are clean for about five minutes after their baths. The dust bunnies are conjugating as we speak, and the kitchen will probably be condemned by the health department soon, and the cordless phone is ringing somewhere.
I find order as I take the time to study my scriptures and really pray, even though I am already behind, and it is only 6:00 a.m. I sense order as I let my children play in the mud and the sandbox because I know they love it. I find order as I kneel with my small son in prayer so he knows best how to begin each day, even though he wants breakfast NOW. I find order as I take an hour to play with my toddlers before plunging into THE LIST.
I feel order as I cheer a friend who needs a boost, even though I’m tired and need to go home. I find order as I go outside in the sunshine to play soccer with my son, instead of cleaning up kitchen.
This is the kind of order I think that Heaven wants to me bring, order that places first things first–God, family, friends and then self in the proper alignment each day. Yes, my house may not look like much (don’t open that closet door–it could be hazardous to your health) but I am beginning to learn what makes a house of order.
What helps you sense what matters and what doesn’t? How do you keep a sense of order and still live life? What have you learned to let go of as unimportant?