Heather Marshall on April 7th, 2009

Wow, has it REALLY been over a month since my last blog post?! My goodness! What a month this has been!  And what a major case of writer’s block I have had!!

However, I HAVE been reading… a lot.  I’m currently in the midst of reading 4 books - at the same time! One is in my bathroom (I read a page or two at every sitting), one is on my nightstand (I read a page or two in bed at night, waiting for Jason to join me), and both the third and fourth are in my school bag (I read them on my breaks. I get a few pages read each day in one or the other).

It’s the third & fourth books that I want to focus on right now, because they are the ones which broke my writer’s block today!!

One is called “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas. It is about marriage making us HOLY rather than HAPPY. Majorly convicting stuff… I’ll have to get into some of the concepts at a later point in time. The other is called “The Husband Project” by Kathi Lipp.  It is a practical guide to showing love to your husband each day (similar to “The Love Dare“).

So, I was reading “The Husband Project” today during my student’s music class (because I had accidentally left the other book in the classroom) and I was hit with conviction.  The ideas from working toward a HOLY marriage combined with the suggestions for loving my husband…. and I thought, “Wow… I need to share this!” So, here goes…. :)

Try walking in the door of your home and see what you notice as you cross the threshold.  What’s the vibe that your house gives off?  Does your home give you a hug or a panic attack? (The Husband Project; p. 64)

When I walk into my house, I see a small, cluttered kitchen table to my right, a coffee table straight ahead that’s covered in books, papers, and other miscellaneous items that have yet to find a home, a couch that’s covered in coats & haphazardly placed pillows directly behind the coffee table, and a pile of bags, books, and shoes next to the hope chest/shelf right across from the couch.  Not a pretty picture, even after I think I’ve straightened up (which I haven’t been doing much of these days, unfortunately).  So my house gives off a definite panic attack.

It feels like it is against my nature to keep a clean house.  I’d rather nap than clean, any day! Somehow I missed out on whatever gene my sister got… because she is AMAZING at keeping a neat and clean house. Not me… there are almost always dishes in the sink, clutter on the kitchen table, and dirty socks on the bedroom floor (mine). In the summer time, you’ll find no less than 5 pairs of shoes throughout the living/dining room area on any given day (I once counted 10 pairs).

Personally, I have no problem living this way. Eventually, I just don’t SEE the clutter any more.  I know it’s there, but it begins to bother me less and less (ask any roommate I’ve ever had, they’ll tell you my propensity for messiness).  Unfortunately (well, fortunately I suppose), I’m married to a man who prefers neatness. (Not that he himself is very neat… he just notices when he makes a mess!) He is NOT happy living in clutter.  He is usually the one who strongly suggests that it’s time to pick up after ourselves.

Since reading “Sacred Marriage,” however I’ve been realizing that this issue goes beyond what is “natural” or even beyond what is going to make my husband happy.  It’s about pleasing God - and in the process, becoming Godly.

Now, a clean house won’t make you Godly (I don’t really believe that saying “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”), but if a clean house is important to your husband, by serving him you are serving God.  Therefore, a clean house CAN be an instrument in bringing you closer to God.

If you are a naturally messy person (like I am) it may take a lot of effort for you to keep a clean house every day.  In fact, you might spend hours making it “just right”… only to have your husband come home and not notice the change.  Your motivation should not be to please your husband or to get praise from him.  Your motivation should be to serve God.  Service takes work, sacrifice, and often goes unnoticed on this earth.

My advice (which I will be following to get rid of the mess in my own house) is to do the following:

  • Pray for God’s eyes to see the areas in which you can serve your husband. (i.e., cleaning the house, giving him some alone time after work, having sex more often, or listening to him talk about his day to name a few suggestions)
  • Pray for God’s strength and energy to serve your husband in at least one way each day.
  • Make time for whatever area it is you feel convicted in. (i.e., plan extra time for making a nice dinner, put the kids to bed earlier for some extra alone time for just the two of you, shut the computer down for a few hours to get chores done around the house, etc)
  • Continue to seek the Lord for approval, not your husband. Not all men are observant. They may not notice any changes taking place… but God does.  Remember, your goal is HOLINESS, not necessarily HAPPINESS!!

This book has truly changed my perspective on almost every area of my marriage - even my thought processes!  I highly recommend you buy it, read it, and live it… and then tell me all about it!

I can’t wait to hear from you…. it’s been so long! Leave your comments below & stay tuned for more … coming soon!

Keep on Striving,

Heather :)

PS - Looking to buy “Sacred Marriage“? Buy through any of the links on this page to support this ministry!

42827: Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy

By Gary Thomas

The title expresses a radical thought for today’s marriages! Chapter by chapter, discover how marriage works to develop Christlike character - forgiveness, love, respect, perseverance - in each of you. This book will enrich your marriage in unexpected ways.

Related posts:

  1. Tried & True Keys to Being Productive
  2. Striving to Declutter
  3. Lost That Lovin’ Feeling?
  4. Beatitudes of a Christian Marriage - Part 1 of 4
  5. The Marriage Inventory

13 Responses to “Cleanliness and Godliness - How Are They Related?”

  1. What a great way to come back!!! This was a powerful post!

    In my marriage it is the opposite, Michael is the one who doesn’t mind a little clutter and I like everything to look nice and be clean. It is sometime so hard to keep the house clean, because most days he doesn’t see/notice/acknowledge what I do. But, like you said, I am cleaning to seek approval from God not my husband. I am cleaning to bring God glory, not myself.

    It sounds kind of funny talking about cleaning in this way, but I can serve God better when my house is clean!

    I’m glad to see you back!

    -Ashley

  2. what a great post! When I walk into my house I definitely get a panic attack! Not because I’m distant from God but because we have a 1 yr old running around after his mom (my wife) and throwing things down right after she puts them up….
    glad to see you back!

    Alani

  3. Heather, this post is impactful and as Ashley said, “powerful”. I told you before (via twitter) that even though I am a single woman, I really enjoy reading your blog posts because I learn so much that even applies to me. I gained from this post that serving others brings you closer to God (so true) and by helping out around the house a bit more (I live with my mom and sister) and keeping it neat (my mom is obsessed with neatness), I am serving my family and thus serving God.
    Thanks for this post Heather! God bless you bunches!

    P.S. Can’t wait for the live post coming up on Monday!

  4. I believe God is a God of neatness and order - look around at nature, flowers, the human body - God is very orderly. I never thought about keeping my house clean as serving the Lord, but it’s a great thought. I know sometimes the cleanliness doesn’t get noticed. There’s another beatitude I once heard, “Blessed is he who expect no gratitude, for he shall not be disappointed.” Sometimes that’s true. But thanks for the post, I really enjoyed it. When I first saw the title, Cleanliness and Godliness, I thought, “This coming from Heather? Hey, I’m her Mom, I’ve seen her room!! What can she possibly say?” Well, at least you were painfully honest. And I pray you’ll be able to put your place in order. Sometimes it’s easier to keep it clean after everything is put in its place. Upkeep. But really, 10 pairs of shoes? That makes 20 shoes!!! Oh, Jason, I’ll be praying for you for patience!! Love, Mom

  5. Hey Heather, I really needed this today. I am EXACTLY the same as this! I am very cluttered and I just begin to not notice or mind, and my hubby is exactly the same as you described; not exactly any neater but he notices and gets upset… actually we had a really rough patch in the beginning as we adjusted to living together and I found myself trying so hard to please him and him just not noticing or still thinking it wasn’t enough and lately I’ve stopped trying at all. This convicted me and I need to do the things that pleases my husband and keeps a happy marriage not for his approval but “capital” HIS approval.

    I just want you to know that this was really encouraging. I’ve known this for a while and I was really good about it for a while and it really helped our marriage flourish when I did those little things, but I’ve let all the busy-ness and worry about aprroval keep me from doing the things I should do here in my home.

    Love you Heather, I’m praying for you and I’d appreciate your prayers as I learn how to be a wife period and definitely a Godly one! Thanks

    Alicia

  6. WOW, thanks for all of the amazing responses! I’m so blessed to have you all in my life!

    Mom - thanks for your prayers… you know Jason needs it!! :)

    Ashley - keep your eyes on Christ - He sees all you do!

    Alani - Sounds like your wife has her hands full! Wow!

    Sarah - So glad my posts can bless you! You’re awesome! I’m looking forward to Monday’s episode at http://NOfearYEAR.com too!

    Alicia - That was the way our first year of marriage was too… lots of adjustments, disappointments, unmet expectations… you can do it, girl! Keep on seeking Him! :) I love you too… and I’ll definitely keep praying for you guys!

    So today I decided to take my own advice & clean up the clutter…. my couch, coffee table, and hope chest no longer elicit a panic attack. I even dusted! Jason was excited because I did it without him saying anything… and while he was freed up to spend time doing his own thing, I was freed up to pray & thank God for giving me the motivation and energy to clean my house. :)

    Now, like my mom said…. it’s UPKEEP time!! :)

  7. hey there,

    I stumbled upon your blog, because I was doing a search for other people who had blogged about the Five Love Languages. (My current read and topic.) This Husband Project book sounds fantastic. I’ll check it out. (And if I decide to buy it, I promise to buy it through you!) ; )

  8. Ahhh, Kirwin, you’re the best! Thanks :) …and welcome to my blog! :)

  9. Angelica Marie Prado
    April 9th, 2009 at 11:41 am

    This was awesome Heather! Excactly what I needed to hear. I’ve been waiting for a new blog, and so glad you came with this one! Way to go! I have recently moved, and things have still not been unpacked. One of our cars is still packed with boxes in the back! Aaaahhh!! It has been driving me crazy, but yet seems like I have no time to do anything! My husband is not the neatest person, but yet notices the messiness before I do. I’m tired of being comfortable with my house looking the way it has been for a couple weeks now. It’s time to Fully Unpack! Just as I would like to with God. My husband and I are feeling comfortable with our relationship with God, and we are in need of unpacking and moving forward!!
    This blog definetly encouraged me, and I can’t wait to share this with my husband!! :]

  10. Good post. I am the same way you are Heather - I can live with clutter but Scott is very neat (I thought the men were supposed to be the messy ones!) I didn’t realize it was important to keep a clean house but now I am starting to realize it (even though it goes completely against my nature). I learned recently by taking a quiz at couples group that Scott’s first love language is service. I had no idea. So now I am trying harder to do things for him like cleaning and cooking. So I’ll probably look into reading this book but I still have the read the Love Languages book first….so much to read!

  11. Interesting stuff, Heather. I just had a question: what if you WANT to learn how to clean better as a SINGLE gal, but people who should have taught you how, didn’t teach you how? How can you learn? I struggle with this thing a lot. IF you could please offer suggestions, that would be great!
    Sincerely,
    Jessica Carr
    P.S. You have my email address! =)

  12. Angelica… I know it’s hard to get things unpacked and put together… and with a baby it must be even harder! Good luck with that, I will be praying for you! God will give you the strength to get through! :)

    Erin… The Five Love Languages is DEFINITELY a great book to start with, especially considering the fact that Scott is “Acts of Service,” and you’re not the neatest person! Jason’s 2nd place love language is Acts of Service… and I constantly have to remind myself that by cleaning, he is feeling LOVED. It makes it much easier to get going with it. :)

    Jessica… That’s a great question! I’ll email you, in case you don’t check these comments… but you might want to check out http://FlyLady.net …The website’s a little overwhelming, and they like to inundate you with emails, but they do have a basic, step-by-step approach to getting your house clean!

    Keep on Striving, ladies! You can do it! :)

  13. Great post, I needed to hear that!

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