WHY: the cleaning doesn’t matter

I had a long day yesterday. I’m not entirely sure why. It was just one of those days. I was having a hard time adjusting to reality after a lovely weekend in the mountains near a river that still had ice in the early mornings. I arrived at work on time, but my boss wasn’t ready to start my training. So instead, I sat outside, chatted with a friend and attempted to catch up on three weeks of homework that I’ve  been skimping on for my online class.

And then I arrived at E’s where I made him an orange smoothie slushy thingy because I knew it had been a long day at work. I laid down on the bed with a novel (again the procrastination) and waited for him to arrive in the hour long gap he has between jobs. There’s no couch in this apartment, just an odd little two person bench probably purchased at Ikea. So, while the bedroom was dark and a messy disaster after camping, it seemed a more comfortable alternative to the bench thingmajog.

I made dinner, had to throw out some hummus that had gone sour. I threw out two loads of trash. I sat and read while he finished up work and then just sort of…glazed over. I cleaned up after dinner, just like I cleaned up after dinner last night, or whenever I cooked for him last. I went into the bathroom to blow my nose for the umpteenth time today and glanced around sort of miserably at the fuzz, the hair, the dirt that has stuck to the sink when he washes his hands after working outside. The floor has markings, water droplets that have caught dust and trapped it on the tile. The kitchen floor needs swept which it does almost every night after I cook (I’m a messy cook).

He collapsed on the bed ten minutes before we left to meet friends for my birthday and said in a despondent voice, muffled by the pillows, “I made a mistake….I laid down.”

I didn’t want to go in at first. I was feeling quite selfish, in fact. This is my birthday. This day belongs to me. But G used to tell me things that annoyed her about her husband and she would always follow it by saying “I remind myself, G, this is you showing love to him. So just get over it and do it.”

So I went into the bedroom with the clutter of camping and life strewn all about the floor and I sat on the bed beside E and rubbed his arm. Not much. I’m still a very selfish person.

But as I walked out of the room, I heard the boyfriend of the woman who lives next door. He was out in the parking lot again, screaming in that voice, deep and hollowed out by heavy sobs and tears. One of her dogs was barking, the small one that thinks it’s as big as the pit bull. But all I could really hear was his voice, pleading and begging just like he did two weeks ago when E wouldn’t let me leave the apartment for fear the guy might do something unstable.

And I thought, my God has done great things for me. We have multiple jobs–six between the two of us–and we don’t have much money or free time. He’s almost always tired after work, and depending on the job, I usually am too. Our respective apartments are both messy. My fridge desperately needs a clean out and his bathroom is even more precarious to someone who occasionally struggles with germ-phobia. But we have these apartments and we have jobs and we have friends and we’re doing so well. I don’t stand outside an apartment, begging to be let back in.

And that’s not because I’m awesome and popular and everyone throws their doors open wide to let me in. It’s because God has healed me of some incredible brokenness and he has blessed me with friendship, love, security and he has gifted me Himself. It’s because my God found it worthwhile to save me and blot out my transgressions for his name’s sake. And so I’m whole and I’m hopeful and I’m grateful and…and none of this makes sense. But I was just struck that afternoon, the man next door; he doesn’t know hope. He’s lost and broken and hurting. While my life is not perfect and I’m not always the happiest of people, how can I worry about small things like the bathroom and the trash and the never ending dishes when I have been given such a great gift in the salvation offered by my God?

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