I’ve often felt stressed, frustrated, and ashamed about the state of my home. I’ve tried various cleaning routines and organization methods, but nothing seems to last, and I end up feeling like a failure.
For years, I’ve seesawed between two thinking patterns:
- I’ll never get any better at keeping up with this house, so I guess we’ll just wallow in filth; and
- If I just try harder and find a new method, I’ll finally measure up.
How to Find Hope When You’re a Frustrated House Cleaner
I’m always seeking more freedom through Christ, and I know Jesus wants me to be free in him – free from emotional hurts, spiritual strongholds, and wrong thinking. Lately, I’ve been learning that this freedom applies to my day-to-day life, too. It even applies to cleaning my house!
The reality is you and I often believe lies that are linked to ordinary tasks. These lies can keep us stuck in a hopeless domestic cycle that we feel we’ll never escape.
Have you believed any of the following?
- God doesn’t care about my cleaning struggles.
- Only a shallow Christian would dwell on these kinds of domestic stresses.
- I should be ashamed of my dirty bathroom, unwashed floors, and the fact that my kids have no clean underwear in their drawers today.
Recognize the Lies that Clutter Your Home (and Heart)
Somewhere along your life journey, you’ve picked up lies about yourself and your home. The first step to finding hope for your messy house is to recognize and sweep away those lies.
I’m the seventh child of a Mennonite family. That means I’ve learned how to work hard. My mom taught me well, and I admire her strength. So, when I got married, I tried to emulate her because I believed…
Lie #1: My mother’s method of house management is ideal, and if I want to succeed as a wife, I need to keep my house clean in the same way she did.
(To be clear, my mom never placed this pressure/lie on me. These expectations were of my own making.)
I worked a full-time job during the week and caught up on housework with “deep-clean” Saturdays. Using this schedule, my house was usually clean and often tidy.
Until we started a family.
Every housekeeping ideal I held dropped away after we had kids – one-by-one – like baby teeth.
I was tired and distracted and overwhelmed and juggling a baby and a toddler. A full, uninterrupted deep-clean to make up for my week-day lack was now rarely an option.
At this point, my house was rarely clean and sometimes tidy. All this led me to believe…
Lie #2: I am a terrible failure because I can’t clean my house the way I used to.
As a young mom, I couldn’t reconcile my ability to work hard with my inability to keep up with my house.
In an effort to regain control over my home, I would spring-clean and re-organize only to find my house back in its original state of disarray shortly thereafter. This led me to believe…
Lie #3: If I’m truly a hard worker, I’d be able to keep this house clean. Therefore, deep down, I must be lazy.
These are a few of the lies I’ve believed over the years. Have you believed them, too?
Think back over your life. What other lies have crept into your soul about you and your home?
Believe the Truth: Your Cleaning Struggles Matter to God
You can find freedom from these lies because Jesus cares about every area of your life.
“You know when I sit down or stand up.(Psalm 139:2-3 NLT)
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.”
If God cares enough to watch our every move, why wouldn’t he also care about our frustrations with cleaning?
The truth is, God cares so much about your day-to-day life that he included encouragement, hope, and support for you in his Word:
“Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in their behavior, teaching what is good, rather than being gossips or addicted to heavy drinking. That way they can mentor young women to love their husbands and children, and to be sensible, morally pure, working at home…”(Titus 2:4-5 CEB)
Think of “working at home” as being a “home manager.” So, whether you hold a job outside the home or not, it’s likely that you also carry the burden of being the home manager, a role that inevitably includes cleaning your house.
When I read the Scripture above, I’m filled with hope because God knew I would need mentors to help me grow in all areas of my life, including managing my house. He knew I’d need fresh perspective to recognize the lies of my own expectations and find the freedom to be who he made me to be.
God isn’t scowling at your struggles. He’s cheering you on as you seek wisdom.Tweet
And where can I find this help, advice, wisdom, and insight? Through mentors!
Gain Fresh Perspective from a Mentor (or a Book?)
About a year ago, when I was once again feeling hopeless about my messy house, I happened upon a book that changed my outlook. It helped me discover the truth about my cleaning struggles.
Did you know that books can be mentors, too? (Find out more by reading How to Pick the Right Book and Avoid Wasting Time.)
The book was titled The House That Cleans Itself written by Mindy Starns Clark. It promised me a miracle: I bought it immediately.
At home, I cried as I read Mindy’s words:
“I loved being a wife and mother, and I wanted our home to be a place of peace and rest, not disarray and disorder. But when it came to housekeeping, the children’s added mess turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, especially because I was also working a part-time job and trying to become a writer on the side. With no spare time, no energy, and no cleaning skills… I persisted in the notion that I could do better if only I tried harder.”(Credit: The House That Cleans Itself, p. 10, Mindy Starns Clark, Copyright © 2007,2013, Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97408, http://www.harvesthousepublishers.com)
Mindy was describing exactly how I felt! I read on:
“I realized that my problem wasn’t a matter of laziness or lack of discipline or some other personal shortcoming that could be repaired but instead was simply a lack of talent…”(Credit: The House That Cleans Itself, p. 25, Mindy Starns Clark, Copyright © 2007,2013, Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97408, http://www.harvesthousepublishers.com)
Praise the Lord, I’m not lazy! Lies I’d believed immediately began to crumble. Mindy helped me realize the truth:
My natural talents may not automatically convert to house cleaning skills, but I’m still a hard worker. I use my energy for writing, organizing, baking, house projects, kids’ activities, and planning. I’m energetic and creative!
What a relief it was to learn from someone who understood me and offered hope.
Enjoy a Cleaner, More Peaceful Home
A couple days after I bought The House That Cleans Itself, my kids approached me with a proposal. They offered to tidy the house in exchange for extra screen time. I agreed, and off they went.
With the house cleaned up, the kids ran to the basement to watch their favorite show, and I settled into the couch to read the next chapter of Mindy’s book while trying not to grumble about the dirty sock I just spotted hidden halfway under the loveseat.
“By gathering evidence throughout your home and then analyzing that evidence, you’ll learn what your various problem areas and messes consist of and exactly what’s causing them to happen.”(Credit: The House That Cleans Itself, p. 32, Mindy Starns Clark, Copyright © 2007,2013, Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97408, http://www.harvesthousepublishers.com)
Aha! This was my perfect opportunity to analyze my “tidy” home. (I can’t be the only mom whose idea of tidy is different than her kids’. Right?)
As I worked my way around the house clicking pictures, I nodded to myself.
Yup. This is why I’m frustrated. This is not tidy.
And even as I thought this, I recognized yet another lie:
Lie #4: My children should be able to clean like me and think like a house manager.
How ridiculous! What child views their home the way their mother does?
As I continued to work my way through Mindy’s book over the course of the next three months, God used it to further transform me:
- I felt better about myself, my house, and my family.
- I found more freedom to accept who I am and embrace my natural talents.
- I found ways to use my talents to help me maintain my home without feeling condemned.
Help for Frustrated House Cleaners
God cares about the whole you and every part of your life. He wants to partner with you to sweep away the lies you’ve believed about yourself and your home.
“‘Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'”John 8:32 NIV
Why don’t we quickly pray together before you continue on with your day?
A Frustrated House Cleaner’s Prayer
Dear Jesus, sometimes we look at the world around us and all of its big, big problems, and we think you can’t possibly have time to help us with our laundry piles or show us how to get the kids to pick up their socks. But you do! Your Word tells us you care about the number of hairs on our heads. Surely you also care about the number of clean undies in our drawers! We don’t want to live life constantly frustrated. We know you don’t want that for us, either.
Holy Spirit, please help my friend to be free from the lies she’s believed about herself and her home. Show her a better way to manage her home that suits her personality and her family’s unique rhythm. Thank you for helping us and freeing us in every area of our lives, even in cleaning! Amen.
Your Takeaway Challenge
This week, ask God to open your eyes to any lies you’ve been believing about your cleaning frustrations, and then watch your reactions as you go about your days.
For example, if you walk past an area of your house and notice yourself immediately feeling tense or irritable, stop and ask, “Why does this spot feel stressful to me?” If you find yourself feeling defeated or like a failure, even after you’ve done your best, ask yourself, “What am I expecting of myself? Is it reasonable, or am I believing unhealthy lies?”
Today’s blog post is the first article in an 8-week series written to offer you hope and help for your house cleaning frustrations. It’s an honest account of my journey through Mindy’s book.
Other articles in the “Help for Frustrated House Cleaners” series that may interest you are:
- Outsmart Your Messy Zones
- Create Handy Stations
- 4 Playful Ways to Convert Chores into Family Fun
- Take Your House on a Prayer Walk
- Embrace Your Cleaning Personality
- How I Changed My Entrance, Bathroom, and Laundry Room to Fit My Family (Help for Frustrated House Cleaners)
- 21 Practical Home and Family Management Hacks
Stay tuned for more helpful articles as I journey through Mindy’s book – tidying and changing my house to work with who I am and implementing many of Mindy’s amazing tips. I hope that as you read them, you will also find hope and freedom for your own messy frustrations.
Ah, there are SO MANY great things in this post, I don’t know where to begin! One lie I think I have believed is that the state of my house is a reflection on me personally. This leads to plenty of shame and stress, especially when having company over. But the truth is, I am more than a messy house. I loved how Mindy mentioned the different talents of different people – things like writing, creating, spending time with children, and careful planning. I always feel like when I do those things, I am “wasting” time that could be spent on “real work.” As I learn to accept who I really am, I find myself leaning more towards minimalism. Less stuff means less cleaning. And also more brain space. Because I am overwhelmed by visual, auditory, or any kind of clutter. I think this is also part of the reason why God led us to a smaller house (just over 900 square feet, with a basement in addition to that). Smaller house equals less cleaning, equals more time to write! Yay! One other blogger I follow recently posed the question, “Are you lazy, or are you just overwhelmed?” This was a life giving realization for me, because if I can get down to the source of my overwhelm and do something about it, I suddenly have more energy for other things. I am looking forward to the rest of this series, Sara!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you, Lisa. I’m super excited for this series, too. I hope anyone who reads it will find their own version of house-keeping freedom!
LikeLiked by 1 person