Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Clean Before Cleaning

Cleaning is not my favorite thing to do for two reasons. One, I just don't enjoy doing a task that will almost immediately need to be done again. Cleaning my house is like the directions on shampoo: wash, rinse, repeat. And I don't use my shampoo that way, either. Two, my mind has so much free time when I'm cleaning. Unfortunately, I don't always put it to good use, but instead ruminate on how much I dislike cleaning, which makes me cranky (I was going to say crabby, but I decided cranky sounded a bit more steampunk [see previous posts for more on that one]).

My husband is a huge help with the housework, but some tasks seem to fall outside the vision of the other, and floor cleaning has always been my province. So a couple days ago I dug out some cleaner and prepared to mop. I have never found a floor cleaner that works to my liking, although I suspect it has more to do with the floor and all the little divots in the vinyl that was designed by someone who has NEVER cleaned a floor that has dirt stuck in ALL those little divots, but I digress. Since I had not used this particular cleaner in a while (it literally stinks, but it was what was under the sink), I strained to read the tiny directions. (Have you noticed how small things are printed these days? Surely it's not just me. What do you mean, your name isn't Shirley?) Listed shortly before the warnings about not putting this stuff in your eyes, which I wasn't tempted to do--it would be too near my nose then, was the admonition to clean tough spots before cleaning.

"Hmm," and, "Double hmm," said I, as I dutifully pushed and pulled the mop across the floor. I have seen this direction before, and it always puzzles me. I'm supposed to clean the floor before I clean the floor? And just what am I supposed to use to clean it the first time? If the cleaner I am currently using isn't going to work then what should I use the first time? And if the cleaner I am currently using has to have something else used before it, then why should I use it now? Huh? Huh?

Usually this is the moment when my mind takes a sharp left turn into self-pity, griping, and complaining (see that nice Oxford comma? I've recently been re-educated as to its importance). Shortly thereafter a family member will typically walk across the recently mopped and whinged floor and the pity party becomes a surprise party of the most unpleasant kind for said innocent loved one. This day, such was not the case, and the brain took a refreshing right turn.

Cleaning the floor before I clean the floor seems like a ridiculous instruction to me. Yet, in our spiritual lives we do it all the time. One of the most amazing things I can think of is that Jesus came to save me--the spiritual equivalent to my dirty floor, replete with divots. Why should He care about me unless I'm at my best, I wonder. Shouldn't I be at my grandest and finest to stand before God in any capacity? Even before I can ask Jesus to be part of my life? How can I attend church if I'm still covered with the dirt of the world? It's easy to become wrapped up in these worries and forget the truth of Romans 5:8, "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Wow. Those words still surprise me sometimes. I don't have to clean me before I can accept Christ's gift. In fact, that cleaning is the gift, and He does the cleaning. I'm not without responsibility afterwards; I should try to live in a way that doesn't attract so much dirt. Neither am I without struggle, as Paul talks about in many places, including Galatians 5:17. Living the Christian life is not easy, but it's sure easier with a good cleaner. He's the best one I've found, that's for sure. And I must confess that it does cheer me to think that the floor is only temporal and I won't be stuck cleaning it for eternity.

Here's my best advice: Don't be stuck cleaning before cleaning. Let The Professional do it.

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