Since I put myself on a “diligence” regimen a few months ago, I’ve been met with immediate and radical results. Transformational, even. The results have been so profound, in fact, that I’ve found it slightly annoying along the lines of – why on earth didn’t I do this before? Turns out that for me, diligence is the big “E” on the eye chart at the doctor’s office – so huge and obvious, right there at the top, and I’ve been missing it all along. (Credit to my favorite Mark Driscoll, who has used that analogy more than once, and which I love.)
You see, it’s not that I hadn’t been making efforts to improve my under-functional household. I’d been doing so all year: I sat through a presentation on home organization; after that I put a mini-file system in my kitchen. After hearing about the Fly Lady, I tried her keep-your-kitchen-sink-clean idea. I heard a talk on crockpot cooking and started using mine on occasion in hopes of improving the dinner-time-rush scenario. I’ve been meal planning for nearly a year now. But none of this stuff made a difference, big picture.
Why? Because, I’m now realizing, I was addressing the symptoms of my illness and leaving the disease itself untouched. I was doing a little managing here, a little reconfiguring there — and voila, still me. Still disorganized home life and untidy household. The heart of the matter – my lack of diligence – remained untouched. My problem wasn’t lack of organization; it was lack of commitment.
After I repented of my lack of diligence, though, and embraced before God a process of wholehearted home management, everything looked different. I began each morning asking myself, “What would a diligent person do to foster a well-run household?” Then, whatever answer I came up with, I’d do it – immediately. I started praying throughout the day as I did chores and dishes and inwardly repeating, “Be diligent, be diligent.” That’s it. Not rocket scienece, I know.
Within ten days my peace level and the basic functioning of my home had both improved greatly. The whole day felt different, and I felt prepared and free. The thing that surprised me the most was the instant evaporation of the resentment I’d been carrying around. I’d been unaware of my resentful spirit till I noted its sudden absence in the earliest days of my diligence-adoption. Turns out I’d been feeling a little resentful all the time. Annoyed at the clutter and the half-finished jobs around the house; irritated by my children for their needs or even their presence (at times) in the midst of quasi-chaos; irked by the after-dinner dishes, just for being there. And need I even mention the search for shoes and diaper bag elements before leaving the house?
The second most surprising thing was how time-full life suddenly felt. I didn’t feel so rushed; the sense of hamster-caught-on-treadmill vanished. Homeward diligence meant I could interact with my kids more fully; I had time to pay close attention, be consistent, and outlast with them when discipline issues around.
Embracing diligence has given me new eyes to see my household and everything in it as my God-given job, and the ability to tend to it joyfully throughout each unfolding day. God has made my arms strong my for in-home tasks. Does my house look like Martha Stewart’s now? No, it absolutely does not. Where it used to be a C+/B-, it’s now perhaps at B+/A-. But that’s really not the point. The point is my heart. It always is with God, isn’t it? Fruit will emerge slowly but steadily from my transformed heart.
Bottom line: this Thanksgiving, it’s been God’s faithfulness to me in showing me the big E on the eye chart of my home, and giving me the will to embrace it, that I’m most thankful for.