Dear Younger Self (and all the homemakers out there who feel like they’re failing)
Always. Everyday. I’m hoping we don’t have to do dishes in heaven.
I USED TO REALLY beat myself up over the way my home looked, and I believed some lies that caused havoc in my heart. Lies that sounded like this:
“I will never change.”“My husband would be happier with a woman who cleaned all the time.”“I hate cleaning, and I hate that I’m not the cleaning type.”
I put a lot of stock into how well and how often I cleaned (which wasn’t well or often), and I constantly felt like a failure. I wanted to be a good homemaker; I wanted to make my husband proud.
It’s been twelve years since I got married and started keeping a home, and while I’ve grown into my own as a homemaker, I still have to work at it. But I have learned a few things, and I’d like to share them with my younger self . . . and all the non-cleaners of the world who struggle with feelings of failure.
Dear Younger Self (and every woman who feels like she’s failing as a homemaker),
Your identity is not defined by how well or how often you clean.
The sum of who you are is not in your ability to keep the dishes off the counter and the laundry put away. You are no less or no better in God’s eyes. You are His, which means that you are beautiful and perfect because of Jesus, right now, right where you are. As you continue to submit to the Holy Spirit, He will mold and change you to be more like Jesus. From an eternal perspective, you are already complete. Yes, you’re working it out here on this earth, but your righteousness is set before the throne because of Jesus. Rest in that truth a minute?
My friend, your identity is not in what anyone else thinks of you. (tweet that)
I used to believe the lie that my husband would be better off with someone who was a good cleaner. I was in so much bondage due to this lie; I felt worthless. The truth is, my husband would love it if I cleaned more and better, but he loves me and is committed to me for life. He accepts my purple boots, my sparkly nail polish (Can a grown woman wear sparkly nail polish? Yes!), my driven personality, and my complete lack of Martha Stewart DNA. I care what he thinks because I love him and respect him, but we also respect each other as we grow. The thing is, even if my husband thought I was worthless or stupid or whatever because I didn’t clean up to a particular standard, it wouldn’t really matter because he doesn’t have the authority to tell me who I am. That authority is reserved for God alone.
Only Jesus has the authority to tell you who you are. (tweet that)
Here’s another thing: you are not a slave to your personality. I’ve got news for you, love— “This is just who I am, accept it” is a selfish excuse and not fit for a woman who longs to be like Jesus. When I claim, “This is me, deal with it!” I am not claiming the humility or servanthood of the One who died for all my ugly. No, that’s not the way of the Cross. The way of the Cross is to submit your personality and your bents and all of the things that make you who you are to Jesus. All of who you are is for His glory.
It’s okay to know you will never have the Martha Stewart way about you. God doesn’t love you any more or any less because of your bents. However, He does ask you to obey, to be faithful, and to trust His work in your life as you surrender to Him. And so I counsel you to practice laying yourself low and to follow the Way.
You can choose to love well through keeping your home.
I know you don’t like to clean—you find it boring, and you’d rather do almost anything else. But listen, you can love others well by creating a place of peace and beauty for those around you. You can love yourself well by taking care of your home and giving life to it. You can create beauty out of ashes, peace out of chaos. It is Kingdom work, eternal work, because love is eternal. Look at cleaning as an act of love toward yourself and those around you. Look at it as an act of worship to your God, an ebb and flow of life that you will settle into.
I think the best part of being married, having children, and keeping my home is that I now understand more of who I am and that life undulates as I swim through it. I know the ups and downs, and I know there are times of great consistency, great upheaval, and great peace. I have learned to be content with the ebb and flow of life. I know I’ll never be the go-go-go type of cleaner, but I also know I will care for my home and the people in it. I will choose to maintain my home, push back on the Genesis Curse, and persevere in order to love well.
It’s a good place to be when you find peace, when you accept who you are, when you quit striving, and when you give yourself to the Potter. It’s the sweet spot.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” -Jesus, in Matthew 11:29-31
With love, Your Future Self who is still wishing for a maid but who is at peace with her identity in Christ, Sarah Mae
Looking for some encouragement when it comes to making a home? Check out my new book, Having a Martha Home the Mary Way.