The Stuff of Life

by Merrie Eizenga

The Stuff of Life by Merrie Eizenga“So help me, if I have to clean fingerprints off this patio door one more time today, I’m going to scream.”

The kids looked up wide-eyed as I stomped towards them brandishing my Windex bottle like a weapon, and in one fluid motion, they made a desperate dash for the front door. Smart kids.

I slumped to the couch and dismally surveyed my disorderly house.

“Perhaps I overreacted just a tad,” I reluctantly admitted to no one in particular. But I was tired. Tired of cleaning. Tired of dusting, sweeping, and scrubbing. Tired of Mr Clean, Scrub and Bubbles, Spray and Wash and Murphy’s Oil Soap. Tired of mops and brooms, scrub pads, and dishcloths. I was tired of people messing up what I had spent the morning cleaning up. I was tired of spending three hours pulling the house together and watching it pulled apart in three minutes. I was more than just tired; I was sick and tired.

Apparently, I didn’t always get this stressed over minor cleaning indiscretions. I was chatting with a friend several months ago and was lamenting the hygienic injustices I was facing. “Merrie,” she said, “you’ve changed.”

“I have?”

“Yes, don’t you remember the time I was visiting you for the afternoon? Jillie was about four and she had covered the glass door in fingerprints. When she realized what she had done, she came over to you and said, ‘Oh Mommy, I’m sorry for getting the glass all dirty.’

“You picked her up, kissed her and said, ‘Jillie, those fingerprints are very special to me. When I look at them I smile because they are a constant reminder of you.'”

“You’re kidding. I said that? Nah, couldn’t have been me.”

“It was you,” she assured me. ‘I’ll never forget it. It had a real impact on me.”

So why, then, was I feeling so murderous today about exactly the same issue? After a few minutes’ contemplation, I concluded that the buildup of my feeling like a perpetual cleaning machine all summer had finally taken its toll. I had often moaned to Marshall, “Look at this house. Can’t things stay tidy for just one day? Is that too much to ask?”

“Merrie,” he would always reply, “this is the stuff of life.” To which I would say, “that’s fine, but how come nobody cleans up the stuff of life, but me?”

The other day I was reading in Proverbs and came across an interesting verse: “An empty stable stays clean, but no income comes from an empty stable” (9:5 NLV). Immediately, the Merrie paraphrase swung into action, and through my eyes the verse now read, “An empty house stays clean, but no joy comes from an empty house.”

It made me think. One day the kids will be gone and so will their dirty dishes, muddy shoes, and messy rooms. I will spend an hour cleaning the house and it will stay that way all week.

“When the kids go, so will their silly jokes, belly laughter, delightful chatter, and enchanting smiles. They will take with them all the things that help to make this house a home.” Click To Tweet

Sounds kinda nice, doesn’t it? But make no mistake; when the kids go, so will their silly jokes, belly laughter, delightful chatter, and enchanting smiles. They will take with them all the things that help to make this house a home.

Soon the summer will be over. The kids will be back at school and I’ll have the entire day to clean to my heart’s content. But around 3:30 I’ll hear the door knob turn and two sweaty kids will stumble through the front door of this stable, fingerprints and all. My first instinct will be to run for the Windex bottle, but I’ll restrain myself because Proverbs has reminded me that real joy is often tightly entwined with the grubby, dusty, dirty “stuff of life.”

ReadThis article appeared in the September 1997 issue of testimony, the monthly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. ©1997 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Photo © istockphoto.com.

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