Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Carpet Cleaning for Dummies

The grunts and groans could be heard throughout the house as she wrestled the heavy vacuum down the stairs to her basement bedroom with the bright pink walls. After having just spent the better part of an hour picking up her room, all the while grumbling under her breath for having to clean her room on a Saturday, even though this Saturday was no different than every other single Saturday she had spent for the past few years of her life, she was now indeed ready to vacuum. She knew her mom would not stand for cutting corners. The room simply must be vacuumed, and there was no way to avoid it. As much as she had originally dreaded it, now that she had indeed lugged that awkward machine down the steps, it was time for the easy part. She plugged it in, she grabbed her tool, and she began to brush. Working furiously on her hands and knees while the vacuum whirred beside her in it's soldier-like pose, she used her hair brush to carefully and systematically brush that pink shag. Feeling that enough time had passed, and enough pink shag had been brushed to give the illusion of a freshly vacuumed floor, she turned off the vacuum, wound the cord, and cleaned the carpet fibers out of her hairbrush. In similar fashion to the previous wrestling match, she managed to get the machine back up the stairs and into its closet. Upon hearing the closet door shut, her mom called out, "Did you get your room finished?" Quick with her reply, the girl proudly answered, "Yep! I even vacuumed it!" And off she went about her day, knowing full well that brushed shag looks just like vacuumed shag.

Yes, I am she. Yes, that is a true story. Yes, I did that multiple times as a 12-ish-year-old child. (Sorry, Mom. I lied to you. I was only brushing my carpet.) Yes, I am a dork. I know.

I was reminded of that old, long-buried (thankfully temporary) bad habit of mine today, when talking to my mother-in-law about a radio sermon she had heard on the subject of parenting. I'm not even sure now why I brought it up and actually admitted to it while we were on the phone, but needless to say, she had a pretty good chuckle over it. And really, who wouldn't?? Seriously, even at age 12-ish, did I really think that was less work than just vacuuming? Did I really think that was a good idea? Could I have possibly been that lazy, arrogant, conniving, and stupid? Really??

Then it hit me...isn't that what we are all doing much of the time in this earthly lifetime? Aren't we pretty much just looking for the easy way out while doing more work than we need to?

Take women, for example...we color our hair, tweeze our eyebrows, get facials, paint our toenails, shop for the perfect necklace to match our new shirt, put on makeup, take diet pills, ask for the salad instead of cheesecake, curl our hair, straighten our hair...when the Lord really says to us, Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 1st Peter 3:3&4 Aren't the beauty treatments more work than just being quiet and gentle? Why must we do all that extra work?

Or take men, for example...they polish their cars, drive fast, drive loud, buy a new boat, trim their lawns, suck in their guts, puff up their chests, pass out cigars, practice their swings, check their stocks...when the Lord really says to them, Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. 1st Thessalonians 4:11&12 Isn't keeping up with the Joneses more work that just leading a quiet life and working with your hands? Why must they do all that extra work?

Or take most of us, at some given point in life, for example...we doubt the Lord, we worry, we whine, we strive, we run from His will, we complain, we beg for our own way, we try to lead, we object, we ignore His voice, we grow impatient...when the Lord is really saying to us,
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; Psalm 37:5-7a
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. John 14:1
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Wouldn't it just be easier to trust Him in the first place? To stop lying, to stop competing, to stop cutting corners, to stop crouching down next to a whirring vacuum with a hair brush in our hands, and just do the simple task in front of us? God has called us to live victoriously, to live joyfully, to live simply, to live humbly. He has called us to honesty and realness. He has called us to do the hard job of following His commands and His will, without making it harder on ourselves by falling into the traps of laziness, arrogance, conniving, and stupidity. And the beautiful thing is that if we would simply simplify and trust Him, He promises peace, power, unfading beauty, and the respect of outsiders! (Just to name a few.)

I am no longer on the floors with a hairbrush in my hands. But all too often, I am still arrogantly cutting corners. I need to grab the vacuum and just do the job. Will you join me?

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