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Does Housework Even Matter Anymore?


Jan 10 2014
Why we (at least try to) keep clean while the world embraces mess.

Cleaning does seem like a necessary evil at best, and a nagging enemy at worst – reminding me of my inadequacy. I can't do it all – keep a clean house, cook homemade meals, stay fit, study hard, and do good work. So cleaning is usually the last on the list. I don't live in filth, of course, but somewhere in between Marche and Martha.

My husband and I are preparing to move this spring. I keep telling him that I want to downsize, to live in a smaller space that is less overwhelming to clean and more conducive to the active, people-filled lifestyle we desire.

I want to reframe my priorities when it comes to cleaning and hospitality. I believe that my home is a gift from God, a sacred space. When I invite someone into my home, I'm inviting them into my life – and my story of faith. God has blessed me with a home, and even though I don't have a pastor or a pipe organ, it is a place of worship.

If we treasure the sacred and sacramental in the everyday, and we believe in a God who cares about creation, then it should change our perspective on our little corner of our Father's world. My corner may be an 80-year-old, poorly insulated dust-trap of a house, but it still – on every level – belongs to God, and he has charged me with its care. The way the setting sun shines through the stained glass on our front stairs reflects his glory, and on frosty mornings when I peek out those single-paned windows, it is easy to utter a prayer of thanks.

Leonard Vander Zee (in Christ, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, one of Christianity Today's top books of 2005) writes it this way: "My daily activities more often feel separated from God's immanent rule and partnership with the world than involved in them... But in reality my desk, complete with Mac Powerbook and shelves of books, is no less suffused with the presence of God."

And so our homes matter. Perfection doesn't, of course, and more often than not we should probably leave idol-factories like Pinterest and HGTV to the realm of inspiration rather than reality.

With this in mind, I can't in good conscience say that I should just leave it a mess. I am called to a life of hospitality, and part of that call is to keep it presentable, welcoming, and warm. Not perfect, but not a wreck.

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