We might want life to be like a box of chocolates, but in reality, it’s a lot more like laundry.
Follow me here, because I promise I’m not trying to depress you.
In fact, a great source of our frustration, despondency, and fussiness about our life at home is due to unrealistic expectations – false ideas about what it’s “supposed” to be like.
We usually think about goals, tasks, and success in terms of accomplishments – things that are done and done well.
So things that are done well and then undone feel like a tease, a problem, a cruel joke.
Maybe laundry itself feels like that sometimes. But, when it does, we can recognize the problem is not with the laundry, but with us.
Wanting the laundry to be done once and for all is to want laundry to be some other thing than what it is. By its very nature it must be done regularly, over and over.
If we’re working hard with the goal of “finishing” laundry, then there is no hope. We can only be frustrated because laundry will always return, and that rather quickly.
Instead, laundry must be one of those things we just keep plugging away at. Sometimes there is more, sometimes there is less, sometimes we’re keeping up, and sometimes we aren’t. After we aren’t, it takes extra time to do some extra “catch up” loads until we get our groove and our laundry-generation rate aligned again.
Nor does the same laundry plan always work for us. The routines and habits that worked in the newly married state are not the same as those in the newborn phase which are not the same as those in the passel of children state. Perhaps there is farm dirt. Perhaps there is oil and mechanical grime. Perhaps there are many collared shirts to iron. The laundry to be done reflects and supports the rest of our lives.
That is how, through laundry, we can understand life better, can understand the nature of all the rest of our work at home for our families and for the maintenance of family life.
Those jeans come again through the laundering pile two days later not because something is wrong or because you didn’t clean them well enough before, but because life rolls ever on. The work to be done was done and now it’s time to clean up from it again.
The same is true with dishes. The dirty plates and pots reflect a family who eats: a mundane, happy truth. There is no home routine magic that will make the dishes done once and for all. If that’s the goal then it would be best to stop feeding others and eating. One of these goals is reasonable and the work associated with it good. The other is selfish and obviously wrongheaded, its means horrifying.
The same is true with dirty floors, with dust on the shelves, with fingerprints on the windows, with clutter on the counters.
We look for solutions that will make the problems go away when what we actually need are solutions that will keep us consistently, repetitively doing the work needed.
But just like the goal of the laundry is not to have all the laundry be complete, so the goal of any other housekeeping job is also not for it to be complete.
Just like the laundry, dishes, and dusting are ongoing work that we continue to do because they continue to accrue, so repentance is a life-long, continuous practice.
Too often we work to try to attain a certain state, to self-develop and self-help our way to “figure this out” so we can move forward.
Sure, learning and growing is a good thing, and practice does increase our skill, but we can’t postpone doing our duties until we’ve achieved some state where we feel ready and pulled together. That state feels like a moving, unachievable target because it is not because you’re doing it wrong.
As we continually clean up the mess in our home, we can learn that we also must continually clean up the mess in our hearts, which won’t be static and stay clean until Jesus returns.
On April 26, I did a free workshop on this topic, digging deep into what it means to continue the Repent 💜Rejoice 💜Repeat cycle: