cleaning the inside of the cup.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  You blind Pharisee!  First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside may also be clean.” (Matthew 23:25-26)

—-

dad has been gone this week.  “business trip,” i tell the youchien moms — because how could they understand without first believing, hearing, being told? (Romans 10:14)  we’ve been getting along okay.  but despite all my efforts, there are still two baskets of laundry to be folded, dishes to be washed, insurance claims to be sent in, etc, etc — and to top it all off, the smell of must and mold greets my nose when i open any closet (its that time of year), and i’m wondering.. how will i find the time to clean all those closets and cubby holes if i can’t keep up with all the normal, every day stuff?

i’ve blown up a few times this week.  ashamed to say so, but it’s true, so there it is.  i thought the clincher was the stress of maintaining a schedule, a clean home, a put-together life when dad’s away.  but attentive or absent, i don’t think daddy is the problem.

ezra, harper, and i took a drive today after we dropped jones off at youchien, and i thought as i looked around at all the little apartments, colorful laundry strung neatly out on the line by 9am, “maybe i just need to get a smaller house.  living in an apartment would be so nice!  so much less space to keep clean — then i could keep up!” and perhaps there is some sense to that, living simpler and such.  but i’ve gone down that road — it just really is not what’s available to me right now.  we can’t move from where we are.  this house pretty perfectly suits our needs — for ministry, for our finances, for our desire to host visitors, for our choice to live overseas.  and in my quest to be more thankful, i wanted to put an end to this wistful, sinful dreaming for something other than what i have — someplace other than where God has put me.

so i wonder:  when i die, what would i think if people remembered me by saying, “she was such a great housekeeper.”

sometimes i ignore the body of people in my living room in order to wash dishes or sweep up crumbs.  “her dining room  was always ready for the next day before she went to bed.”

sometimes i put off requests to sit and play legos, read this book, watch this little trick, in order to run around grabbing all the things that need to be thrown in the wash. “my mom always had fresh clothes for us.”

sometimes i get out my bible and pen, set them on the table with coffee steaming, and return to the kitchen to wash up all the dishes.  before i know it, my coffee’s cold and i’ve forgotten entirely about the communion waiting for me. “she always started the day with an empty sink.”

seriously? seriously?? is that how i’m going to be remembered? is that what i want my main contribution in life to be? is that how i want the people around me to know me? as a good housekeeper and nothing else?

i want to be known as kind and tenderhearted. i want to be known as a listener. i want to be known as a woman who laughs and always has time for someone. i want to be known as a still and quiet soul — not a frenzied, clenched, and angry mom.

the two little ones snoozing their naptime sonatas, the rhythm of the swing pushing me forward, i sat down at the table and read a post that hit me, and i related, and i wondered,why do i care so much to make things clean?”  it was a plea more than a prayer, but God still answered.

“because you’re trying to make yourself clean.”

and its true.  if the world around me is picked-up and perfected, maybe i’ll feel the same?  maybe i will stop aching for the things i don’t have, stop being angry when life doesn’t go my way? maybe i’ll lose the mess on the inside, too?

but Jesus’s words sting.  a hypocrite is defined as someone who “feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude — one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.”  or one who’s house is clean, but heart is not.

i want to have a clean heart. i want to truly believe the things God says can happen in my daily life. i want to fight the good fight.

i suppose i will begin by learning how to clean the inside.  i suppose i will begin with Jesus.

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10 thoughts on “cleaning the inside of the cup.

  1. thank you for your insight. it’s crazy how you always have the same difficulties that I’m having and your half-a-world away. I guess a mom is a mom is a mom?

  2. Jamie
    What an awesome post you have such a geat insight for someone so young. I can relate 100% because right now I have those same feelings and I have to stop and think of Martha and Mary and then I know I am doing the junkie things for mysself not for God. Remember the dust and laundry will be there tomorrow but the precious moments with Bryan, Jones Ez and Harper may not they grow way too fast so forget the dishes, musty smell, laundry, and cleaning when you are my age you will have all the time in the world to do it because the house is empty (except for Mike
    who will always need me) I hope. You realy need to think about sharing your insight with the world!
    Love and miss you lots Dixie

  3. jamie, how have i not been reading your blog?! sommer passed this on, and likely because it could have been written by ME (well, not as well written, but written : )). all of it. so many of my own thoughts, and it is a DAILY work to put my eyes on jesus and not on the dishes in the sink. every day. thank you for your encouragement, and i am so eager to read your blog posts!
    p.s. this morning i actually, finally, got up early before the kids to read the bible…so i actually better do it : )

  4. aww jamie!! so i read your post and i think….i don’t want to be remembered for my clean house either however a clean house for me helps me keep calmer….i’m sure alot of friends think i’m crazy but if my house is out of control so are my children……

    • agreed, tasha 🙂 i’m an emotional mess when my house is a total pit! but the grasping-for-perfection, sweeping-every-last-crumb-before-i-play kind of “clean” needs to end for me. this, i suppose, was what i was going after in my post. i’m not advocating leaving messes to read the Bible.. just more balance.

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