Friday, November 5, 2010

Put it Away

I once heard a speaker say that the key to staying organized was simple: If you get it out, put it away. Simple, hmmmm, yeah. Simple to say. Not so simple to do. Especially in a houseful of people who think it's YOUR job to keep things organized. They just live there. And they're mostly kids, right? The job of kids is to be messy -- the job of parents is to clean up the messes, right? Well, I suppose that is the logical line of thinking for most kids. Unfortunately it's completely flawed, and the REAL job of parents is to remove flawed thinking from our children's minds. I hated having to clean up after myself as a kid. Every Saturday I had to dust around all those stupid little things that I had collected because they were so precious to me. I had to vacuum my floor, which meant I had to find a home for all the stuff that was "temporarily" residing in various corners and under the bed. There was no negotiating on this issue. I grew up in a house where everything had a place in which it "belonged," and if it wasn't in that place, it was out of place. My mother still has toys and games that my siblings and I played with as children, and guess what? They are in pristine condition, because they always got picked up and put away when we were done playing with them. We hated that we had to do that! But, wow! What a lesson we learned! So when I heard that speaker say, "if you get it out, put it away," I had to look twice to see if my mother had become a public speaker :)

I hate to say that I don't always follow that mantra so well now that my mom isn't here to hold me accountible. Sometimes it just seems so easy to think that I don't need to put it away right now -- I'll just put it in this stack of other stuff that I didn't put away and then "someday" I'll do it all at once. Sound familiar? Funny how that stack begins to grow into a pile and then it becomes a mountain and pretty soon it takes over an entire room. By that time, the thought of putting all that stuff away has grown into what feels like an insurmountable task. Then the thinking moves to a whole new train of thought: "Someday I will set aside a day to sort through this stuff and put it all away." Which is completely ridiculous because we all know very well that "someday" is just a figment of our imagination -- it never really shows up. And even if it did, who has a whole day free anymore? Our days are full with email, texting, surfing the web, playing on Facebook, etc, etc, etc.

I suppose it's no different on the inside as it is on the outside, really. If I pick up a judgmental attitude toward someone I don't really know, I should just put it back where it belongs -- in the garbage. If I get out my ego and wear it for all to see, I should just take it off and put it back in the center of humility, where it won't make such a scene, If I pull out that old grudge that I thought I had thrown out, I need to make sure it gets a proper burial this time, with lots of prayer.

So much of the life we live for all to see is a cover-up for the life we live when no one is around, isn't it? When company comes, we stuff things out of sight, do some surface cleaning and pretend it's all good. It's true for our homes; it's true for our hearts.Problem is the only person to whom it really matters can see it all. No matter how well we hide it from the world, God sees it all. The amazing part is that, even though He sees our good, bad and ugly, He still loves us. Most people, even if they deny it, judge us as they observe our inability to achieve perfection (according the their standards). God simply presents the perfect standard (Jesus) and gives us space to work toward it. He doesn't love us any less or any more based on how well we measure up. He just says, "Well done. I love you. Let me help you with that." Hmmmm, I'm thinking maybe that should have been the approach I needed to use with my kids. It sounds so much better than, "If you don't have this mess cleaned up in 10 minutes, you are grounded for the rest of your life!" The bottom line is, we all need praise from those we love; we all need to know we are loved; we all need help with overwhelming tasks. Well, that's it! I've just talked myself into getting started on that mountain of paperwork in my office! Better get to it! Anyone want to help?