This week we cleaned our carpets. (actually my husband did while I kept the kids out of the way – thanks honey!) It was long overdue and much needed. I found an interesting phenomenon developing in me as we cleared out each room and all the grime and stains I had become accustomed to were sucked away. I started seeing dirt in other places that I had apparently become so used to that I couldn’t see it before. Now with the floor looking cleaner, the dirt on the floorboards and walls, dust on the picture frames, smears on the windows and furniture, all stuck out like a sore thumb to me. It was tempting to start scrubbing away at all of them right that minute to make the rest of the room match the cleanness of the floor. Of course, just getting the carpets clean with 6 kids under foot was an all day job in itself, so any other cleaning would have to wait. But it got me thinking about how small changes can illuminate other things that need changing in our lives, and seeing it all at once can be quite overwhelming at times. It can even lead us to fear changing anything because life won’t look quite as tidy if we do. Sometimes we have to make a big mess in order to clean. And sometimes cleaning up one area of our lives makes the surrounding mess more clear to us, and that can can be scary. It can even make you feel like you’re doing worse than you would have if you never tried to make a change at all. I know that I sometimes worry that trying to do any self improvement projects as a mom might just stress me out and throw everyone off and maybe it is better to just keep the status quo. But when you know better, you want to do better, and it becomes nearly impossible to stay the same. So we have to choose either to shut out the light and pretend the messes aren’t there, or welcome the light and the contrast to help us see more clearly and get to work.
It is a blessing to see more clearly. Throwing open the sashes on the windows of your soul to let light in means seeing the dust fly. Light tends to reveal the hidden things, but oh, how nice it feels to let the light in and take the first step in changing for the better. Last year, I saw the light of how mired in stress and unhappiness I had become. It was scary to realize all the ways that I had let life pass by and opportunities to be joyful with my family. And I didn’t know how to change it overnight. But I resolved to begin, and line upon line the good desires of my heart have started to be realized and I am becoming free from the things that were holding me back, with God’s help. This blog has been part of that process of clearing out and making things brighter in my life, uncovering and dusting off the lost parts and the hidden dreams, and growing into the woman and mother I want to be. There are still days when I feel like there is so much still to be done that maybe I really am not making progress at all, just finding more there is to do. But then I just need to go to the light to see how far I’ve really come. It illuminates the beauty as well as the dust.
The key for me when I get overwhelmed by all the grime in my heart and the clutter in my life, is to be grateful for light to see, and to know that just because I can see it, it doesn’t mean I’m expected to clean it up overnight or even by myself. It’s a process, and it’s one I can’t do alone. It’s a humbling thing to see the messes I didn’t see before (some of which I created) and know I can’t make it all perfect on my own. But I also know that the light that is illuminating those things for me will also help to clean and transform them if I ask and continue to try. It almost seems like the work of change is really just for us to offer our meager efforts to let the light in, then to acknowledge the messes it illuminates and ask for God’s help to make them bright and clean. He does the deep cleaning, but we have to be willing to see the need and invite him to come in with the power washer.
We don’t have to wait until it is all done to feel good about the successes along the way, either. I can be happy that my carpets look awesome even though my walls are dirty. If I don’t celebrate what’s been done until everything else is all done, I might never celebrate (and they will probably be dirty again by then too, haha). Maybe you have made great strides in improving a relationship with one of your kids but still haven’t figured out how to respond to your toddler’s tantrums the best way. Celebrate what is working, and be patient with yourself. It is great that you see what needs to be done next, and just because there are still things on the list to improve doesn’t mean you are failing as a mom. Show yourself some Grace by being Grateful for the good you have already done (Author Kevin Hall pointed out that the words Grace and Gratitude are from the same roots – makes sense!). I like what Paul says in James 1:4 “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Maybe perfection is more about having gratitude for what already is happening, and that patience will help us continue working and improving until we have finished the race. What do you think???
Empowering Action: As we consider our new year’s goals and resolutions and look at the areas that need change, it can be easy to become overwhelmed with all the things there are to work on. In order to fend off overwhelm and continue in patience, adopt an attitude of gratitude and keep turning to the light to see where you’re going and how far you’ve come!
Be grateful for the ability to see clearly.
Be grateful for the actions you have already taken in the past year and the successes you already have. Celebrate them! (I like to go through the calendar and journals from the past year to help me remember some of what I accomplished)
Be grateful for what you are doing now, the seeds you are planting, and any good rewards you have already reaped.
Be grateful to know that you only need to take one step at a time and it will be enough.
Be grateful to know that you are not the only one working for positive change in your life – angels
are attending you and unseen forces will help you succeed as you ask God to help you achieve your goals.