Learning through Life

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Hampshire, United Kingdom
I love how our day-to-day life can teach us lessons to help us understand our past, challenge our today, and inspire our future. We can learn through experiences, situations, conversations, songs, books, nature ... the list is endless! Live with eyes ready to see, ears ready to hear and a heart ready to be touched.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The one where I dish the dirt

Whilst I wouldn't say I was obsessed with cleaning, I do like to think that I keep my house in a reasonably clean and tidy state.  I hope that if you popped over for an unplanned (but always very welcome) cuppa with me that you would find the house looking tidy but lived in.  There may well be dishes in the sink that need washing, Playstation leads across the lounge floor, and paperwork piled on the table ready to be filed - but all in all - it is generally tidy and comfortable to be in.  That is my understanding anyway.

Which is why, last week, when I had the afternoon free to do some housework, I had a little bit of a shock!  Perhaps my idea of a clean and tidy house really needs to be revisited and revised!  Had I been deluding myself?

The next few paragraphs I do not share with ease, as it may well reveal a little bit too much for comfort.  Hopefully it wont have a negative impact on the frequency of friends' visits to the house.   I am not so sure though ... as I know how shocked I was myself!  Am I really ready to dish the dirt?! 

Having dusted and polished the entire house, I turned my attention to the carpets; it was time to vacuum.  I carried the vacuum cleaner upstairs, turned it on, and set to it.  In no time at all, upstairs was finished.  However, it was a while before I made my way down the stairs.  I couldn't believe it.  I stared at the vacuum cleaner, which sat proudly upright in my son's bedroom.  It was as if it smuggly said: 'Look how dirty your house is!'  and believe me - it was!!  Gross!

Warning: For those of you who have a 'thing' with dirt - I suggest you quickly abort this post - and find a 'cleaner' one to read ...

Yes.  That is my dirt.  Looking at the sheer volume of the 'stuff' encased inside the cylinder, you may well conclude one of two things:  Firstly, that the dirt had been collected in the vacuum cleaner over several weeks; or secondly, that I lived in a mansion. You would be wrong on both counts:  the vacuum cleaner had been emptied the last time it had been used - and I live in a average sized four bedroom house. All that dirt had been sucked up from the carpets of four bedrooms and a small landing, during just one vacuuming session.  That is some dirt huh?!

I stood, quizzically staring at the cylinder.  It hadn't been that long since I last vacuumed the carpets, and I hadn't noticed them looking particularly dirty.  Where had all that dirt come from?

I guess the answer to that question is really rather simple.  It gradually builds up as the carpets are walked on, and the dust settles.  Unnoticed, dirt collects over time.

Isn't this just like our lives?

We may look and feel clean, just like the carpets, but in reality dirt slowly settles and becomes embedded in our lives.  The little things we do wrong start to build up; we have a wrong thought, speak harshly, perhaps have a bad attitude towards someone, and slowly they begin to stick.  Our experiences, circumstances and choices gradually steer us away from the path we are called to live, and over time we find ourselves grubby and in need of a good clean and fresh start.

When a new carpet is laid, it doesn't stay perfectly clean for long.  Even if the carpet remains unused, dust particles start to settle, and the carpet will slowly become grubby.  Similarly, we are all dirty - even if we can't see it or feel it.  For we have all messed up (sinned) and fallen short of God's plan for us (Romans 3:23). All of us; you, me and our next door neighbours. Then, even when we are 'cleaned' - we soon become dirty again.  It is just the way it is.

But God doesn't look at us, turn his nose up at our dirt, and walk away.  He longs to clean us.  He is the only one that has the power to do so.  We may try to find an alternative, buy a rug to cover the dirt, or put air fresheners in the room to disguise the smell - but nothing really works.  No one else can lift our dirt. God sent his Son, Jesus, to offer us a thorough and complete clean. 

But he wont force it on us.  We must to want to be cleaned and have our dirt taken away.  We have to accept we have done things that have made us dirty, and ask Jesus to forgive us.

1 John 1vs 9 speaks of this: 'If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.'

I am thankful that God doesn't give up on me because of my dirt.  I am also thankful that he doesn't despair when, once clean, the dirt starts to build up - but instead he waits patiently for me to notice and ask for his forgiveness.  He can then 'vacuum' the dirt and empty the cylinder, providing me with a fresh start.  Time and time and time again.

Let's not get into the habit of ignoring or hiding our dirt, but acknowledge it before God, and allow his perfect love and forgiveness to clean us and make us like new.

Ready for a clean?


  1. I love this. Confession is important, and so often overlooked. Thanks for writing!

  2. So true - if someone poured all that dirt out on the carpet at once you'd notice but because it's so gradually done - in life and carpets - it goes un-noticed.

  3. Jo- what an awesome beautifully written post. This article tells of our God's absolute Grace and Mercy! So so grateful that God works on those things in our lives that aren't visible to the naked eye.

    God Bless You and Continue the Great Work!

    Love the openness of this article.

  4. @Laura Gifford Thanks for the read and comment Laura :) Glad you enjoyed it! Jo

  5. @Dan
    Exactly! That is why we need to take note of the little things that we do wrong and try and put them right. They soon add up!! :)

  6. @Tonya
    Thanks Tonya :) So glad you stopped by, come again soon! :) Jo

  7. Hi, followed the links in your sidebar, googled the book, and found this journey to egalatinarianism.

  8. Thanks for reminding me of how often I fall short and how great God is at forgiving...and that I really need to do some hoovering!


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