One of the funniest books I’ve read on marital relations is Laura Jenson Walker’s Dated Jekyll, Married Hyde.
In her chapter on neatness, Laura wrote, “Everyone has different standards of clean.
“Like my mom and aunts for instance, who wouldn’t know a dust bunny if it hopped right up to them.
“My mom raised my sister Lisa and me the same house-cleaning way,” she said, “Except that all of our dust bunnies have names.” (1)
Later, she wrote about a friend named Pat who had a husband who left various items of clothes strewn around the house. One day he came home from work to find his wife had decorated their apartment.
“Pat had quite artistically hung his socks over a chair, draped his shirt over a picture frame,and dangled his underwear from the dining room light fixture,” Laura said. “We women call that decorating with a point.” (2)
Several television shows have highlighted the differences between people ~ not always husband and wife ~ who are messies and neatniks. The most famous couple was Felix and Oscar on The Odd Couple.
The guiding line for me has always been the anonymous saying that a home should be “clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.” It’s easy to go to extremes. I’ve grieved over the stresses of a hoarding household with nowhere to turn or breathe. But I’ve also cringed in the presence of a fussy homemaker who eyed everything I did, afraid I’d mess up her picture-perfect home. Neither is healthy or happy!
At the end of her chapter on neatness, Laura shared the verse: Isaiah 32:18: “My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” We do need to relax in our homes. They are a unique place for us to let down our hair, kick off our shoes, and be at ease. But there does need to be a point at which we clean and organize, or our homes won’t stay peaceful havens of rest.
The Proverbs 31 Woman took time to work on her home. We don’t know whether she had dust bunnies, but she probably had a dirt or stone floor in her home. Regardless, it is obvious from verses 10-31 that she was an industrious woman, caring well for her household.
There are many “systems” for housework that list the essentials of cleaning and organization. [I'm sure you have positive resources that help you keep things in line, and I'd love hear from you.]
But at the risk of simplifying this subject too much, I believe there are some basic questions every person needs to ask when considering their home:
- Does my home honor God?
- Does my home look welcoming? Warm and inviting?
- Is my home uncluttered and calm?
- Can I or my family grow and learn here?
- Is my home healthy ~ clean, but not fussy?
- Does my home contribute to joy and laughter? Can I open it to serve others?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, then what needs to change? [I know that Marcia Ramsland, The Organizing Pro, has lots of ideas for positive changes that organize one's life as well as the home.]
Make changes one small step at a time, but methodically. Start with those pesky dust bunnies, perhaps.
[I think my boys' first pets were dust bunnies (LOL), but that changed when I discovered what those dirty fluffballs contained! Seriously. Dust bunnies aren't so harmless! They can harbor all sorts of nasty things that affect your health!]
So get a plan, and write down steps of things you want to change. Check them off as you complete them or make them part of your lifestyle ~ and you will soon have a more relaxed, efficient, God-honoring home.
[Now... as for getting messies to go along with neatnicks' plans? That's another story! I hear there's a Messies Anonymous group online!]
(1) Laura Jenson Walker, Dated Jekyll, Married Hyde: Delighting in the Differences Between Men and Women (Bethany House Publ., 1997), p. 129
(2) Ibid, p. 130