May 12, 2011

Obstacle #1: Selfishness {Masquerading as Perfectionism}

Cheerful Vintage Dish Washer
A month ago I was so focused.

I was excited about finding ways to make our home a pleasant place.
I was excited about journaling that journey.
I thought the most important thing in my world at the time was creating this ideal environment for us to live in.Then my priorities were challenged in a big way.

My husband nearly died. I spent just over two weeks with him in the hospital. And he lost his job.

So here we are, a month later. Exhausted. Confused. Trying to catch up and fall back into some routine that resembles normalcy.

Last night I became the epitome of what I'm hoping to avoid.

My sleep patterns are still off-kilter from the hospital stay and the late nights that followed it. I haven't had more than a couple hours of sleep at night in a month. That's no excuse for what happened, but it clues me in that getting enough rest is indeed just as important as they say it is.
From the start of my work day at 7:00am to the end of it at 4:30pm, I was miserable. I had a splitting headache and could've slept on my laptop's keyboard. Looking forward to going home and seeing my sweet husband alive and well was my motivation from start to finish. Seeing him and then taking a nap. That was what I held on to.

When 4:30 rolled around and I walked through my front door, my greeter was not the wave of relief that I expected. As I passed through the living room, all I noticed were the blankets on the couch, the books on the piano, and computer cables on the chair. Dishes glared at me from the kitchen sink, and the floor felt sandy when I slipped off my shoes. I went into the bedroom to shut it all out, and there was our overflowing laundry basket. Every dirty sock or item out of place taunted me with my utter failure at making our home ideal, this thing I find so important.

I wish I could say that I promptly checked my priorities, thanked God that I was home and not at the hospital again, and spent a relaxing hour or two just chilling with my sweetheart.

I didn't. Instead I started muttering under my breath about coming home from work just to find more work. I tidied up the living room and cleaned the kitchen and did the laundry. Oh yes. But not without several hours of angrily tossed books, slammed cabinet doors, and footsteps that fell a little too heavily from the laundry room.

I allowed my selfish desperation for the "perfect" home environment to destroy any chance of creating it that evening. In those hours, I was defining my goal of "pleasant retreat" by what would please me and me alone. My husband didn't mind the less-than-spotless areas of our home. But I allowed myself to be consumed by what I thought would make home perfect for me, a showcase of my "perfect" housekeeping skills. In the process, I chose actions that altogether ruined the pleasantness of his evening.

He is a good man. A very good man. He washed dishes, helped put away laundry, and even vacuumed the entire house. But afterwards he escaped into the only form of peace he could find in our house that evening- isolation, a pillow, iPod, and headphones. I don't blame him. I would've wanted to get away from the maniacal cleaning madness that I became. I gave him the Proverbs 21:9 Experience.

Selfishness is the first obstacle to making home a retreat. When I define what makes a pleasant home solely on my own preferences, I disregard others' feelings. When I selfishly went after what I thought would make home ideal for me (a perfectly clean house), I completely wrecked my husband's idea of an ideal evening at home (stress-free time with his wife).

How do I get around this obstacle? Ideally, eliminate selfishness in all areas of life!
However, I'm a work in progress. So are you. So when selfishness rears its ugly head again (because I know it will), I've got to choose selflessness.

I've got to make up my mind that home as a retreat means home is a place where relationships- not my controlling demand for perfection- are the focus.

Keeping a clean house is truly beneficial only as it serves others. If I'm frantically scrubbing so that my reputation as a housekeeper will shine as brightly as the dishes, I'm operating out of selfishness. If I'm washing up some things so my family can benefit from having clean glasses when they want a drink of water, that's selflessness.

When my motive is serving the others in my family, chores become a work of love. Since I'm focused on helping my husband rather than on my O.C.D. inner voice, I don't feel like a failure if something more important interferes and I'm not able to achieve perfection by bedtime. It's all about priorities.

From now on, when I get home from work I'm going to ask myself, "What course of action would make home a more pleasant place for my husband at this moment: washing all of his socks or really listening to him talk about his day?"

Eradicating the ominous pile of socks appeals more to my perfectionism. But something tells me that more often than not, his answer would be the latter.

1 comment:

  1. So convicting--thank you for sharing! I definitely fall into this.