I had been in a sort of Catch-22: My eyes were not attuned to my surroundings because everything was a mess, and everything was a mess because my eyes were not attuned to my surroundings. I had been blind to my own messes because each one by itself had served a purpose. In my mind, the soggy newspapers on the floor of the utility closet were intended for cleaning windows. The stacks of Reader’s Digest were there to be read. The dusty monogrammed towels were supposed to look pretty. I was not completely blind; I knew that my house was a mess, but somehow, I had been missing the big picture.
I had been trudging through a mental list of tasks every day, instead of pursuing the goal of a beautiful, clean, welcoming home. Instead of vacuuming out of obligation, I began vacuuming for the sake of beauty. Instead of dusting because I was lost in the imagery of an old commercial, I dusted because I wanted my house to look nice. Even though washing the dishes all at once when all of them were dirty seemed logical, it did not serve for a beautiful kitchen. My goal changed from simply doing dishes to having an empty sink and cleared countertops. When I was stuck in job-orientation, I took all day to get nothing done. Instead doing housework for the sake of housework, I started cleaning my home with the goal of having a clean home. The difference may have been subtle, but it is all the difference in the world.
When I felt like I had all day to get my work done, I took all day to do it. Once I began to realize that keeping a clean house was the means to an end, I hurried as quickly as I could to tidy up things. Keeping the house tidy freed me for more important activities. I could go to Bible Study without guilt or fear. I could visit my elderly widowed neighbor without the doom of a messy house awaiting me when I returned. I could invite friends over on a moment’s notice. I could pop the girls in their stroller and walk down to the library for story time, or I could zip through my housework and give myself a full day to sew and suck down coffee just like Aunt Doll, if that is what I wanted to do.
Becoming goal-oriented saved me a lot of work, too. If the carpet looked good, I had no need to vacuum it. If I had only a couple of breakfast dishes in the sink, it took only a few seconds to give them a quick swipe and put them away in the cupboard. There was no need to pull out the Pledge and a handful of rags, if a quick little swish of a feather duster would do. My goal was to create a lovely home, and to do it in short order every day, so I could live the abundant, joy-filled life that God had intended for me from the beginning.