I have been praying all week to know what to write. I’ve had no inspiration, and been a little frustrated about it. I feel like the food, making, gardening, parts of my blog are just fillers, not the really good stuff. I talked to Tim about it and he said that I should just wait for the Holy Spirit’s prompting, and in the meantime I should keep doing what I am doing.
Yesterday “doing what I am doing” meant cleaning Matt’s bathroom. But first things first, let me explain that Matt’s bathroom is never cleaned except by me, and that rarely. Because it is never cleaned, and it is Matt’s, and it is in the basement, I never use it. No one does except Matt. And because he never cleans it, and I very rarely do, and it is used every day, it is really gross. Really gross. Let me emphasize the gross part. Repulsive, off-putting, unhygienic, and revolting. These are the words to describe the bathroom.
Due to the utter repulsiveness of it, I try to forget it exists and hope Matt will someday come to his senses (sight would be a helpful start), realize that it needs to be cleaned, and then clean it. He never does.
I have had “Clean Matt’s Bathroom” on the To Do list for a couple of weeks now, and put off the unenviable task for what should now be obvious reasons. But in those past weeks I have also been working really hard to be available to Jesus. To obey him in whatever he asks, whenever he asks. Unfortunately, he asked me to clean Matt’s bathroom. So, servant that I am trying to be, I did.
I put Kira down for a nap, armed myself with rags, toilet brush, broom, bleach cleaner, and Soft Scrub and headed into the fray. It took an hour to clean, and I could have scrubbed hard water stains all day. I was trying to be especially good-natured about it, because Jesus asked me to do it, but it was hard. I wasn’t angry, but I was definitely not cheerful. Mostly grossed out.
The toilet was, naturally, repulsive, but I was most surprised by the thick layer of dust on the seat lid. I literally thought, “Why is there such a thick layer of dust on this lid?” After which, I realized that it was carefully closed after each use.
It occurred to me that if you really don’t want to deal with something nasty, the best (at least easiest and most natural) way to avoid it is to cover it up.
I thought about how we tend to do this in all areas of our lives, especially our private and mental lives. We have an ugly spot in our hearts, but instead of opening it up and cleaning it out, we just cover it with food, alcohol, TV, books, relationships, or whatever seems best on any given day.
About two years ago I went through a period of my life I like to call “spiritual housecleaning.” I’d been a Christian a long time, and Jesus had been nudging me to clean out my life. Finally I decided to listen. When I came to my senses I saw that my life was like Matt’s bathroom. It was so repulsive that I couldn’t stand to go on as I’d been. It was worse to leave it than to go through all the pain and disgust of cleaning it up. So I basically told God, “I don’t care what you do to me, or if there’s even any me left when you are done, but get rid of this.” I felt as if God rubbed his hands together, smiled excitedly, and said, “Julia, I have been waiting so long for you to ask!” And we started cleaning.
God found things I hadn’t seen for years but had been holding onto (insecurity, worthlessness), he found things I didn’t know I had (bitterness, envy, vast amounts of pride), things I thought were one thing, but turned out to be another (laziness, distrust and fear that were hiding under ‘anger issues’), and even things I thought were not so bad (hobbies, good practices taken too far). He moved through my whole theoretical house and emptied things out one by one, scrubbing all the while. He examined, painstakingly, each item to see if it should stay.
Some of the things were ugly and I was glad to see them go. Others were pretty to me (probably because of familiarity only) but he told me they had to go, so they went. Others I didn’t know how to let go of (gluttony) but he said he’d help. Eventually it felt like the cleaning was done.
Yesterday as I cleaned I wondered, using an old cliche, “What would Jesus do?” My first thought was, “I bet he’d be here cleaning this bathroom if he were here.” But then it was as if he said, “No, Julia, I would have cleaned it every week.” I think I will have to do that. Because Jesus loves Matt, and I love Jesus. (I love Matt too, just not enough to volunteer to clean his bathroom each week- no offense to Matt or anything.)
I also thought about how, in the past 2 years, God and I have had to revisit some of the areas of my life that he’d already dealt with. Pride creeps in so quietly and stealthily we re-trash it often. Gluttony became an issue again- not to the extent that it had been, but food was still taking up too much of my thought life and making too many decisions for me. Sometimes I still give in to fear and debilitating insecurity. They make me depressed, and I have to give them to him in order to just function. If I find myself angry I have to reassess who I am going to trust (God, or money?), and if I am willing to serve like Christ. Once in a while I give in to mental escape- books or TV or movies- and God asks me why I feel the need to leave this world and not go to him? He tells me he’ll help me deal with the pain, hardship, and sometimes boredom, but I will need to go to him with it, not to the fiction of entertainment.
He cleans me out, in some way, on a weekly basis.
And he does it because he loves me. He wants me to be clean and healthy and comfortable. He doesn’t ask me to unpack the clutter in my soul because he’s mean and wants to hurt me, he does it out of love. He doesn’t just want to destroy that which is dear to me, he wants to be the dearest. He loves me. It may seem selfish of him, but his motives are really great! He knows what is best for me and what will make me the happiest- even though I don’t know until after he does it!
Are there any areas of your life that you know God needs to clean out? If there are, do yourself (and everyone else) a favor and let him. Stand next to him, and when he’s done with an area say, “Ok, that’s done. What’s next? Here?” and point to the next spot. Don’t hold back. Ask him if there is more to be done. He will be gentle if you ask him to, and if you are willing to help him. God loves you a lot, and he loves you enough to be harsh, so if you hold out on him, he may just back a dumpster into your living room and start trashing things without permission. I know enough people that only gave in to God when their life was destroyed to know this is true. He loves you. He wants you to work with him, not against him. So open up and help him carry the trash out the front door.
If you do, I can guarantee that you will look at the results and smile that you were silly enough to doubt his methods. When “the cleaning was done” I felt emptied out. And wonderfully alive! Fresh and new.
The basement bathroom looks fresh and new. It is, really. We just renovated it last year, so the tile is new, the toilet, vanity, everything. We even had my professional-builder dad put in a built-in shower that is fully tiled. It’s beautiful. And when it’s clean, it really is beautiful.