“How to Love Your Messy Home”
Reflection on Luke 10:38-42
In my role as a counsellor, something that I often hear women say is “I just can’t relax when my home is messy.” This frequently follows with: “…Unfortunately… I can never get on top of my cleaning...”
Other related comments may be: “I never have time to relax,” or, “I just don’t have any time to myself.”
Their accompanying emotions may include: feeling run down, short tempered, frustrated, stressed, even depressed.
Whenever I hear such comments, an image of Martha and Mary springs to my mind, from Luke’s gospel 10:38-42 (New International Version (NIV)).
I can envision Martha looking tired and stressed, finding it difficult to relax due to her to-do-list hanging over her; and feeling annoyed about the perceived lack of support that she is receiving. I can also envision Mary’s care-free adoration of Jesus, despite the many chores that still await her in the kitchen.
Mary made a choice to make time to connect with what was most nourishing to her spirit-being in the presence of Jesus, over attending to the tasks of the material world (which to most families, seem to be without end…).
Martha found it harder to step outside of the social expectations of the hostess role, and may have missed out on receiving spiritual nourishment, from being in the presence of Jesus and listening to his wisdom.
I find the story of Martha and Mary replaying itself over and again in the lives of many women today.
I find that many have been conditioned (whether by societal, cultural expectations; or historical legacies) to focus their energy on attending to and being mindful of others’ thoughts and feelings more so than their own.
A common presentation of a client who comes to me for counselling is a woman who l finds it hard to relax and feels pulled in many directions.
Very often, her family’s, society’s and culture’s expectations around the role of “wife,” “mother,” “daughter,” or “daughter in law,” can distract her from attending to what she is experiencing on the inside; and sever her connection with what gives her nourishment and inspiration, for example quiet reflection or prayer time. She often feels like there is little room in her life to nourish and care for her “self.”
While I admire and appreciate the hard work that’s involved in creating a comfortable and clean living space for one’s family, I find that many women associate their sense of worth and esteem with how clean their home is. Or, experience a sense of social judgement around the tidiness of their house reflecting their worth as a woman, wife, or mother.
Within my own family, the account of Jesus’ visit with Martha and Mary challenges me every day.
While I am writing this, I have a pile of washing stacked on the sofa, right behind me. There are also building blocks on the floor and a few scattered toys around. Also, the kitchen floor has not been wiped for two days. I can continue…
But, what helps me to love our messy home is the happy thought that when my husband comes home, our children will witness all family members taking responsibility, as a family unit, for the cleanliness of our home!
While we pick up toys and stack the dishes, they will witness a relationship which strives to model mutual support for, and consideration of one another, by allowing all family members their share of leisure time, so that every person has an opportunity to connect with what is most nourishing to them and attend to their self-development.
Keeping our family’s focus on our spiritual development as individuals and encouraging each other’s growth is one of our most important goals, one that helps us to love our messy home!