In my entire life, no one has ever once accused me of being a clean person. I have never been confused with a neat-freak. I am messy. I always have been. Anywhere I go, I just explode. When I was younger, my mom had many terms for my room. "Trash Can." "Pig Sty" are just a few of the examples. I was never able to go and do anything extra, mainly because my room was never clean and I was always grounded.
Yes, I am messy.
I have lived alone now for almost 5 years. Before that I had my own room, and lived in a dorm on campus. I have never really learned how to clean and stay clean.
And yet, I now have a roommate. She very bravely moved into my house. Now, I just have to give you a scope of my messiness. It's WAY worse than you are picturing in your head (unless you actually know me and have seen examples of my previous rooms). Picture something like, CPS coming to take away children messy. Humane Society taking away pets messy. Scary messy. I'm not really exaggerating either. :-(
It's amazing what you can get used to living in. When you are alone, it's amazing the kind of conditions you can accept as normal. Well, for me, it has always been this way. Living alone just made it worse. Well, bigger anyway.
But now I'm not alone. Now, I have another person who needs her own space, and has rights to live in a clean house.
This week was called "Silver Week" in Japan. We had a nice 5 day holiday. Many friends are traveling or had fun plans.
Me and my roommate? We are cleaning.
I hate cleaning.
But it's interesting sometimes.
My roommate, she's quite the industrious person. I have to work really hard to keep up. She is still working and going strong, so I find that I work way past the points I would have usually given up. (I'm also lazy btw)
She works without complaining. She cleans up my messes, and works hard. She is amazing.
I can see huge differences between her and me. I am usually of the opinion, if it looks clean enough, that's good enough for me. After all, it's an improvement of what I have been living in, right? Too clean kinda stresses me out.
But she started cleaning the shower this week. She worked very hard. Now there is a slight mold problem in Japan. (Slight being an overstatement.) Now, I had already cleaned the shower before this summer, so it has been cleaned somewhat recently. (I actually have no idea how often one should clean showers... As long as it's not too gross for me, I'll shower in it.) But the mold was starting to come back, so we decided it should be cleaned again. So she started cleaning. She used the regular cleaning and scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. She worked really hard. But there was still mold stains. So we went on an adventure to buy special mold cleaner. She scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed some more. A little bit more mold came off. But that wasn't good enough. Today we bought MORE mold cleaner. And she scrubbed and scrubbed again.
I probably would have given up after the regular cleaner. I have no problem living with stains.
But then I realized that my way of thinking is very much like the Pharisee way. Clean the outside of the cup, without cleaning the inside. I always thought that was a stupid analogy, because when I wash dishes, I would think the opposite would be more logical. Clean the inside, but don't worry about the outside. But that's neither here nor there.
I guess all this rambling means that I have taken a good look at myself. I am messy. My outlook is messy. My heart is messy. And I'm lazy. I don't care about cleaning the whole cup. As long as it looks good enough, I'll give up.
But that's not what Jesus wants from us. He want's us to be clean. To have clean lives. He wants us to fight the mold that gets into our very souls. To go back time after time after time to fight the stains. He doesn't want us to settle for what's good enough. He doesn't want us to give up.
The Pharisee's had good enough. They didn't care about the reality of their situation. They were used to things the way it was. But they couldn't follow Jesus.
When I look at my own weaknesses. The fears and doubts. My inabilities. I know that this is because of my lazy, messy heart. But once again, God has shown me grace. He has given me more blessings than I deserve.
He sent me a beautiful girl with a servant's heart, who was willing to accept me as I was, messiness and all. She came into live with me, in a house most sane people wouldn't visit. But she didn't leave it that way. She is helping me clean. She is working and helping me change the conditions of my house. She models how to persevere and how to clean. She challenges me to a new standard. And she does it with no condemnation or criticism. She has accepted me, but is willing to help me change.
How amazing is that?
And the funny thing is, I think she would have tolerated me, even if I didn't change (or clean.) She didn't initiate the cleaning. I knew we needed to clean. I suggested it, and planned for it. But she's the one who silently starts before me, and works after I'm past my limits. She helps because I am willing to change, even when I'm unable to change by myself.
And so, I've seen a little bit "cleaner" picture of Jesus today. The One who loves us no matter how messy we are. And will love us even if we continue being messy. But who, when we say we want to be clean, will roll up His sleeves, and work beside us, cleaning the stains of our hearts.
There is still a long way to go for my poor house. We have one more cleaning day left, and I'm afraid there is still a mountain of cleaning left to do. Sometimes I fear the task will never end. I become completely overwhelmed by the size of the task.
But then I watch as she silently starts cleaning, and I am humbled, and I have the strength to push myself just a little bit farther.
I'm tired, frustrated and confused.
But just a little bit cleaner.
There is hope yet I'll become a disciple and leave these Pharisee robes behind. One cup at a time...