I like things to be tidy. And my wife, well, she likes to not think about it. Like once a week I go to a lot of trouble to gather up all the trash from all the little waste baskets and get the trash in the dumpster to be hauled away. I’m very good at it.
Back when I was single and living on my own I’d do the same thing. I’d get all the trash out of my house. I liked that feeling of no more trash in the house and all the wastebaskets clean and empty. I liked it so much that I would go to great lengths to keep all the wastebaskets clean and empty. Even if it meant keeping trash in my car so I could put it in the dumpster at the gas station. Yes, I would do that.
I was the same with laundry. When I was single and living on my own about once a week I’d put on my cleanest set of clothes and stuff all the other things in my laundry basket and drive up to the laundromat. I liked to go there after midnight when it wasn’t very busy. Then I’d stuff all my clothes in a couple of washers and then go to the all night grocery store and buy myself a snack. I figured I might as well enjoy the laundromat with a snack.
Eventually my clothes would all be washed and dried and I’d do my best to fold things up and drive them home, stopping at the gas station trash dumpster to throw out any trash. Then I’d sit and admire my clean, empty clothes hamper and my clean, empty wastebaskets. Sometimes I’d wear the same clothes for 2 or 3 more days to keep my clothes basket clean and empty.
I didn’t like dirty dishes either. And at least a couple times a month, whether or not I really needed to, I’d gather up all my dirty dishes and wash them and clean up the kitchen. I’d do a really good job and make the kitchen as clean as I could and if there was any trash of course I would take that and put it in my car to take to the gas station dumpster and if there were any dirty dish cloths or towels I’d take those to the laundromat and then I’d sit at home and admire my clean kitchen with nothing out of place and no smell of burnt bacon or toast lingering in the air.
Of course when I got married things changed. It seems like nowadays as soon as I empty a wastebasket my wife is throwing something away. And if I finish the last load of wash she’ll put something in the hamper just as soon as I set it back in place. Or as soon as the kitchen is all cleaned up she will decide it’s time to bake something or try out a new recipe with cabbage or garlic in it and out comes pots and pans and dishes and food and my sense of a clean, laundered, fresh smelling environment goes all away.
Now if I thought therapy did any good I’d go see a therapist and I’m sure I’d be given some coping strategies. You know, like making myself empty the trash baskets and then drop a candy wrapper in it and eat the Mounds candy bar. Or else do all the laundry and then drop some dirty socks in the hamper and eat a Snicker’s candy bar. Or clean up the kitchen and then sprinkle flour on the counter and then eat a row of Chip Ahoy! cookies. But I’m sure I’d just get all frustrated and have to buy bigger pants.
But, what I’ve had to accept is that in a few days the wastebaskets will be clean again and the hamper emptied and the kitchen cleaned. Maybe not all at the same time or for very long. In the mean time I just say, it will be clean again. Someday.
It’s kind of like dealing with sin. As soon as we think we’ve cleaned ourselves up from sin and are enjoying our cleanness it’s back. Like in Hebrews 12.1, ‘…the sin that so easily entangles…’
We’d like to think we are completely clean but sin is more than what we do, it’s what we are deep inside. Jeremiah 17.9 says, ‘The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.’ Or 1 John 1.8. ‘If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves…’
So how do we keep ourselves clean? By believing, confessing and relying on God’s Word and the Holy Spirit though the sacrifice that Jesus made for us to clean us in such a way we can stand before and be in loving fellowship with our Holy Father, our Creator.
Romans 9.33, ‘The one who believes in Him, will never be put to shame.’
1 John 1.9, ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness,’
Galations 2.16 ‘…So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ…’
And to stand clean with a clean heart before God through the work Jesus did on the cross is much more satisfying than a clean trash can, or empty laundry hamper or clean kitchen all together.