Christian living- dealing with one 'oops' at a time…

My Priorities Rant

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I just read answers to a question put out to home schoolers about when they do chores. The answer was unanimously, ‘before anything else’ in the morning. What?!?!?
I have heard of home schoolers missing co-op classes because the housework was not completed, and thought that this was rare, and nuts. (Who is going to see your house when you are gone?)
What I am beginning to see is that in many homes it is more important to mom for her house to look ‘perfect’ (so her friends think she is wonderful) than for her children to be well educated.
Let me point a few things out:
1. A clean house never paid the bills, but a good education leads to much wealth.
2. If your children do not get a good foundation in school they will find college extremely challenging.
3. By placing housework first you teach your children to over-value other people’s opinions. This makes them a slave to those who emotionally bully people. This is not a personality that does well in life, but is a personality that is prone to depression, low self-esteem and fear.
4. An overly clean house stifles creativity. If you have to worry about making a mess, you will not do the things that make learning fun. Finger painting, elephant toothpaste, raising small animals- all of these hands-on projects have great mess-potential. But they are also the things that children remember most.
5. Being overly attentive to how clean your home is makes mom the house Nazi. This is not a fun position to be in, and does not help your relationship with your husband or your children. It is hard to cuddle up with someone who is always worrying about how dirty you are.
Remember: Proverbs 14:4 “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean, but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” (KJV)
Do not keep things so clean that it inhibits productive work. And remember, those of us who were at the beginning of the home school movement, the one that produced those wonderful kids who scored amazingly on their standardized tests and won spelling bees, we had messy homes! (And we visited each other. There was clutter, honest!) Let’s stop being like the world, always worried about being ‘better’ than others, and start being the people God created us to be: kind, caring, and hospitable enough to let the little things slide.

photo by Matija Barrett

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Comments on: "My Priorities Rant" (8)

  1. I don’t think one needs to be sacrificed for the other. If a lady is organized and her house well run, both priorities can be met. My house is clean, my children are very learned, AND we have plenty of time for creativity.
    Our children are taught to keep our house organized for several reasons; we are to be good stewards of all God has given us, our family is to be our first ministry, and it is easier for us to maintain creativity when we can find all that we need without the hassle of clutter.
    I appreciate that you are trying to encourage us moms to look past perfectionism to the heart of homeschooling, but I think with a little planning and organization, both needs can be met.

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    • Thank-you for providing me with a perfect example of the attitude I am completely against! In it you subtly imply that I am not a ‘lady’ if I am not exactly like you. This is not so. What I am is a person, like many others, who also devotes much time ministering to others, and even adopting a few children others threw away. This means that life will not be ‘perfect,’ and when those days come, one must choose between appearing to be perfect, and doing what is actually important. I am glad that you are able to maintain such a peaceful, organized life, but would challenge you that if life is so ‘maintainable’ you may not actually be doing much that is helpful to others. Search yourself and see if you are really ‘ministering to your family’ or using it as an excuse to think yourself better than the rest of us.

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      • On the contrary, I was implying that all of us are ladies! I am not sure where you got the impression that only women with clean houses are ladies! That is not what I said at all. The implication was that I was speaking to women and prefer to call them ladies, as that is what we all should be, no matter what our homes look like. I apologize if my text gave the wrong impression. (Personally I think this is one problem with text, it doesn’t really convey the emotion behind someone’s writing to the fullest extent.)

        Life is never going to be perfect, even for those who try to achieve it. My point was only that it can be managed. It is more difficult for some of us than others, especially depending on where the Lord has us at this time of life. Some of us are just learning, some of us are going through major trials and can’t take care of things as much as we would like, and some of us prefer to not be as concerned. There is no wrong or right, but what works best for each family.

        I appreciate that you spend a great deal of time in ministry and have encouraged me to do the same. I assure you that, while being a keeper of my home is my first priority, we have plenty of outside ministry. I personally serve in four ministries through my church, which keep us quite active and involved on a weekly basis.

        I would hardly characterize our house as constantly peaceful or organized. Life constantly throws curve balls and, like everyone, we adjust. My initial comment wasn’t meant to antagonize or anger; but to point out that everyone’s home works differently.

        In our home, we need to be clean and organized. My husband has particular preferences, my children work better in such conditions, and I believe I am doing what the Lord called ME to do. It isn’t going to be for everyone and it shouldn’t be, but it is what needs to happen for our family.

        Again, I am not sure why my comment was taken in such a manner, but I assure you I am the first one to admit I am “not there yet”. I have many areas that need to be worked on and new ways in which I am constantly growing. The purpose of my comment was simply to share that some of us are able to do both and shouldn’t be accused of sacrificing our children’s education for cleanliness. Both can be done. That may not be the case 100% of the time, but generally we find a way to make it work.

        Lastly, you imply that I think better of myself than others and that those of us with clean houses do so for the glory of ourselves. Why? Not once have I mentioned how great I am or that my house is perfect. Why does having a clean house imply that is so? Why can’t it be that we take joy in pleasing our husbands and serving him in this manner? Why can’t we clean our houses because it helps us work off energy and teaches our children to take care of their things?

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    • I apologize if you did not mean to be condescending in your comments. As to why I took offense: I have experienced too many women using the same wording you have chosen to passive-aggressively put other, hard working, wonderful women down, using house-keeping as the only criteria for being a godly woman. Since the wording is always ‘godly’ and subtle they leave their victim feeling crushed, and then, when confronted, deny that this is what they meant. I am blessed. Like the Proverbs 31 woman, I have a cleaning crew that takes care of most of the housework for me. But in the past this was not so, and many women, who did not often lift a hand to help anyone were the first to put me down. In my experience, the women that are the first to minister, have typically been the ones who have cluttered lives, and then they go to church and are made to feel that they are ‘less-than’ because their homes, and/or appearance is not perfectly polished, and it is something that makes my blood boil. Many teach (incorrectly) that a woman’s first priority is to keep her home clean. No, it is to guard her house, and the people are what constitutes her house. While it is perfectly reasonable to keep your home sparkling and organized if you would like, it is not the first priority. The well-being of the people in it is. When the well-being of the people (their education, need for comfort, need to be on time for appointments etc) suffers because it conflicts with one’s need to clean, one must look at what motivates this behavior. Often it is fear of being seen as ‘less than’ by others. If you are a family that enjoys order, then being clean and organized is a way of meeting your family’s needs. Just don’t expect others to live up to your standards (and I don’t know you well enough to say that you do this- but the common ‘buzz words’ of the people I have heard do this before were there). I am not trying to make the ‘cluttered’ seem better than the non-cluttered. I am merely trying to get people out of the judgmental perfectionist attitude that causes much hurt among women in the church today, and encourage them to not be stifled by those who wish to judge them for what these women know to be a proper lifestyle for their situation. In your case, since you and your family enjoy being neat and organized, this would be you being judged as ‘bad’ for being so ‘clean.’ It would be wrong for someone to judge your choice in this way as well. Unfortunately today it is usually the other way around. Recently I have had a teen complain to me that the reason they miss many activities is because the house cleaning is done in the morning and their family is almost never done in time to make it to events. (The home is not trashed, and the teens are not lazy.) I am also dealing with a woman who has missed three rescheduled doctor’s appointments for her children because the chores were not done. Both mothers’ problem is that they fear someone seeing their homes and thinking that they are not good enough. While they are extreme, the community they exist in has contributed to their situation in a very negative way.

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      • Well said! Unfortunately there are some who are quick to judge, particularly on outside appearances, when they should remain silent. The Lord has given each of us different needs, talents, and ministries (even ways to go about the same ministry); it isn’t for us to tell them how to live their lives and serve the Lord.

        You do make a good point though… we ought to be careful that we are not “keeping up appearances”, but actually serving our family. Again, my point was simply to add that we ought not to have prejudices either way. The Lord has given each of us different family plans, we all ought to be free to live them without being judged by others.

        I do wonder about those other moms though… it must be very stifling to live your life so consumed by what others think, that you can’t make a doctor’s appointment! My heart hurts for them. There is a time to organize and there is a time to act; life should be a balance of both.

        Thank you for understanding….

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      • Thank you for continuing this conversation. I hope that through this exchange we have clarified the message that we both agree on: It is stifling to live your life consumed by what others might think! While ultimately it is up to each individual to not allow the pressures of other’s opinions to affect their lives, we are also responsible to make sure that we are not unfairly placing these pressures upon them. Unfortunately, due to the relational nature of church and home school groups there is an opportunity for the insecure to contrive a system of determining a person’s worth that is harmful to many. And people naturally crave friendship and respect, both of which are withheld when this game is played. In Paul’s day it seemed to be how elaborate one could do one’s hair. Today is seems to be how clean one can keep one’s house. There is also a temptation to believe that our way of living is the only ‘right’ way to live. There is a balance of course. Laziness is never a good excuse for not keeping things clean, but when there is work being done, we must be sure that we are not elevating house work over things that should rightly take precedence, and we need to give those who have clutter because they are busy and have de-prioritized the need for ‘house beautiful’ a break. There is filth, and there is organized disorganization. While we have people who come to clean, we enjoy the latter. As my uncle, a successful lawyer, says about his desk, ‘Don’t touch my mess, I know where everything is!’

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  2. My sister-in-law is one of these people, as is one of my daughters. While I might think her area needs rearranging, she knows exactly where everything is located.
    We are all wired a little differently.

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