The Thief of Joy

I confess that I can be described as an “indifferent housekeeper.” Sadly, I am so ashamed of my house as a disgusting disaster area that I am reluctant to invite people over. I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable, like they need to don a bio-hazard suit in order to enter the door! Whenever folks do visit, I inwardly fret and freak out. I wonder: are they judging me? Do they think that I am a slob? Okay, the truth is that I really am a slob. “The proof is in the pudding,” as they say. More apropos to my situation: the proof is in the slovenly condition of my home.

There is a part of me that constantly nags that I am lazy, that I am an awful wife and mother for not taking better care of the house. I need to develop an organization and cleaning plan and stick to it. I need to get up off of my fat butt and do the chores. Shame on me for being a poor steward of the blessings that God granted to me and my family!

Whence spring these negative self-comments? Perhaps I judge my own housekeeping unfavorably based on my impression of somebody else’s home. I have friends who have beautiful, seemingly well-organized – and, above all – clean homes (Unlike me, they have included hiring a cleaning company in their budget, but I feel that’s just making excuses on my behalf.) The fact of the matter is, I feel that I am not doing my part in maintaining my own home and this stresses me out. In short, I am profoundly unhappy and disappointed in myself.

And don’t get me started on my so-called writing “career.” What career? Ha! I’m not even published yet. As much as I love reading others’ published works, it is not done without a modicum of envy. “Here are folks,” I say to myself, “who have boldly gone out, doggedly pursued their dream to become an author, and succeeded admirably. Meanwhile, what have you accomplished in this vein? Diddly-squat, and you’re not getting any younger.”

As Theodore Roosevelt once so aptly put it: comparison is the thief of joy.

Have you ever had these sort of thoughts about yourself? Not very encouraging or self-affirming, are they? We need to identify this malicious voice – Cathy Fyock calls it “the Bitch” while I call it “the Shrew” – and tell it to shut up and ship out. We don’t have time to dwell in fear of rejection, self-doubt and destructive self-criticism.

As usual, God in His wisdom has some advice for us self-criticizers:

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” Galatians 6:4,5 (NIV)

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

Huh. Good point, there. I should stop worrying about all this stuff other people are doing and just do something, myself. Perhaps it won’t silence that nagging shrew in my head – she’s just too stubborn and persistent – but hopefully it will decrease the volume of her voice long enough for me to accomplish something noteworthy in my life. It will take prayer. It will take hard work. I might need an accountability partner to drag me kicking and screaming out of my recliner but I have confidence that if it is God’s will, I will become a published author.

Who knows? With God giving me strength, I might even improve in my efforts at housekeeping.

So, with that in mind, let’s you and me make a deal. I’ll try to be my best “me.” You try to be your best “you.” And while we acknowledge and celebrate others for their virtues and good works, we won’t punish ourselves for not being blessed with their exact set of capabilities and/or success.

What do you think your best “you” would look like? What methods have you used to successfully manage “the Shrew” in your own head? And no, drowning her with alcohol doesn’t count (LOL.)

I hereby formally invite you to comment.

“Cats, thy name is sloth,” or “Cats, the eaters of ambition.”