most of the time, i really feel like i have my life together. i have a good job, a condo, great relationships with my family and friends overall… i go to school on the side and keep up with this blog [at least somewhat, haha] but still find some free time… i manage my money so that i’m saving a lot but still getting to do most of the things i want to do [like traveling and eating well], i’m usually on time, i take pride in myself and my things, and most things that i set my mind to, i’m able to accomplish.
i’m not telling you all of this to brag, but instead to lead up to what i’m about to tell you next… which is that there is one major area of my life in which i do NOT feel like i have my life together. and sometimes it just kills me to admit it because it’s a quality that i absolutely hate about myself. but for the sake of authenticity, here it goes: i am messy. i have a chronic problem with clutter and not putting things back where they’re supposed to go. and if for some reason this sounds like a minor problem, it is not a minor problem. it’s a major problem for me.
i grew up in household where things were kept fairly neat for the most part. my brother and i had to make our beds every day and pick up after ourselves, and i know this problem of mine is not derived from how i was raised. it is intrinsic for me – a personality trait that i was born with and that i will likely have to work to overcome for my entire life.
thankfully, because i was raised that a house needs to be near perfect for company, i make a strong effort to have a spotless home when people come over – everything in its place, immaculate. and i’m usually pretty successful at this, given that i have enough time to prepare [read: several days to clean]. once my house is company-ready, i’m usually able to maintain and enjoy that level of clean for about a week’s time after the company leaves, and then i go right back to being a slob. for many people, this might be alright – after all, as long as i live alone, why should i care if i’m messy as long as i clean for company? but the problem for me is that i actually HATE having a messy house. it stresses me out and makes me irritable and sort of loathe myself, and yet i continue to be messy and have probably spent 95% of my adult life of living alone living in a messy space.
why do i do this? i wonder that myself. is it that i don’t care as much as i think i do? maybe i’m not trying hard enough? or do i really not have the capability to maintain a clean home? the latter question quite frankly scares the s*** out of me. but i’m not giving up easily. i’m determined to change my habits and behaviors to be a more tidy person.
this book really helped open my eyes to some things – namely, how much i enjoy throwing things away and how much excess stuff we accumulate over time. i’ve gotten rid of so much stuff in the past few months – i’m talking like over 10 huge bags of clothes, shoes, household appliances, jewelry, electronics, craft stuff, everything you can think of – and while i admit that i don’t have a large closet or a lot of storage place in my condo, i was able to find a place for just about everything i own. but i just can’t understand WHY i still don’t put stuff away!
a few weeks ago, i had several rounds of company and i managed to keep my house company-ready in between and for a week or so after they left… but then as i tend to do, i stopped putting stuff away where it belongs and gradually my house got messier and messier. i was out of town last weekend and didn’t get home til 11 pm on sunday, and on mondays and tuesdays i have culinary school in the evenings, and then i had a vendor dinner on wednesday night and spent all of thursday night getting ready for halloween on friday, so by the time i got home on friday, the house was a complete disaster. i hadn’t even unpacked my suitcase yet! i cleaned up a few things that night and yesterday morning, but not enough to make a large dent, and i went to a hair appt yesterday and spent the rest of the afternoon getting ready for halloween round 2 before meeting friends to watch the aggie game last night.
and then i had trouble sleeping last night because i was so frustrated myself with the state of my house. and yet i didn’t get out of bed and start cleaning to make myself feel better… instead, i just worried. i’ve heard about messy people who have ruined their marriage because their lack of organization drove their partner mad, and the thought of that makes me shudder. surely i would never get that bad?? but, as i laid in bed and thought about the current state of my condo, the thought of someone going crazy from living with me in my messy place alarmingly didn’t seem too far-fetched.
so this morning, i got to work cleaning up before church, and thankfully this time i did make a dent in the work, although i still had a ways to go before it would be “company-ready.” BUT it was at church today when i really had a revelation about my untidiness, in a rather unexpected way. the gospel reading was luke 19: 1-10, the story of zacchaeus. those of you who grew up going to church probably know the song about zacchaeus – “zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he…” anyway, for those of you who don’t know the story, zacchaeus was the chief tax collector in the town of jericho [not known to be a very honorable job at the time] and he was very wealthy. jesus was in town, and zacchaeus wanted to see who he was, but he was short in stature and couldn’t see over the crowds. so he climbed up a sycamore tree to get a better look. and when jesus saw him, he said, “zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today i will be staying at your house.” and zacchaeus jumped down and welcomed him gladly into his home. people started grumbling and saying, “jesus has gone to be the guest of a sinner,” but zacchaeus stood up and said that he would give half of his possessions to the poor and pay back four times the amount that he cheated anyone, and he was forgiven by jesus and salvation was given to him.
you’re probably wondering what this has to do with tidiness, but i promise i’m getting there! a new deacon was delivering the homily today, and in his message, he was recounting the story of zacchaeus again briefly. at the point when jesus saw zacchaeus in the tree, he said, “jesus was like, come on down zacchaeus, i’m crashing at your place tonight! and zacchaeus welcomed him into his home with joy.” and in that moment when the deacon said that, it occurred to me: if jesus said to me, hey jessica, i’m crashing at your place tonight, i wouldn’t be welcoming him joyfully. i’d be like CRAP. my place is a mess, jesus – can’t you stay somewhere else tonight? and the thought of that is just shameful! for some reason it really hit home with me. because while it may not be jesus needing a place to stay, it may be someone else in need, a friend or acquaintance needing a place to stay, and it’s awful to think that i would be turning them down because my house was too messy. it was in that moment that i vowed to get my s*** together so that i would never have to turn down jesus – or whoever else – if they needed a place to stay.
my mom told me that supposedly it takes doing something ten times in row for it to become a habit, so when i talked to her about it today, she suggested doing a novena, a catholic custom in which you repeat a prayer nine times in a row. i should pray every morning for nine days for the lord to help me overcome my challenge of being untidy, and then i can take time every morning after the prayer to ensure three things: 1.) that my bed is made, 2.) that all my clothes are picked up, and 3.) that all dishes are washed. and this would be a good starting place. [since then, i’ve looked it up and it seems that in fact it takes 21 days, or even 66 days on average, according to some sources, to form a habit. so i will likely have to extend the novena!] i think this is a great idea, so this is what i plan to do over the next 9 [or 21 or 66??] days. i might as well get this under control and practice it now before i end up getting married and ruining my marriage [ha!], and it never hurts to involve the lord in my endeavors. in fact, it’s of paramount importance that i involve the lord if i want to be successful. so here we go. i’ve gotten the condo to a much better state this afternoon, and please pray for me on this journey of becoming a more tidy person so that i will always be ready for jesus or anyone else to be a guest at my home. :)