Purpose, Priorities, Perfectionism … and Letting Go of the Dust Rag

I’ve been living in “that place” longer than I want to admit—that scene where I’ve neglected the dust rag and my array of other cleaning supplies neatly tucked away in the laundry room.

Keeping my house spotless used to be a priority. My mother raised me to be a perfectionist when it came to a sparkling home. My parents ran their own business, so it was my weekly responsibility to clean the house from top to bottom, and if I dusted on Friday and we expected company the following day, I had to dust on Saturday morning all over again. 

I appreciate living in a dirt-free environment—it helps make me feel like I have control over a small part of my world.

There have been times—and I’m ashamed to admit it—when I’ve gone into other homes and been awestruck at the dust accumulated. How could those people ignore it?

Lesson learned. Be careful of judging others … it may come back to haunt you.  Oh, yes … I’ve become one of those people!

Now thick layers of dust in my own home mock me. So, during the day, I stay in my office where a blonde desk and shelves camouflage unwanted particles. I remove my reading glasses and move into rooms with darker surfaces in the evening when the lighting is turned down low. Time spent there while the suns bright rays spotlight the white carpet covering the furniture and glass tables is taking a risk at escalating my blood pressure.

I’m trying to learn to be okay with not having a perfect house at all times, because there are seasons when we need to shift priorities in order to follow our dreams or do that thing that gives us purpose. 

And sometimes … we just need to give ourselves a little grace.

Instead of embracing the dust cloth, my time has been spent on other things—accommodating my editing clients’ needs, meeting deadlines on my own writing projects, and even more important—time with family and friends. I stay one day a week with my grandson while my daughter and her husband are at work. That time with him is one of the most precious things in my life right now. It’s also far more life-giving to keep friendships healthy than to sit alone next to shiny, nonliving objects.

Next week, I’m traveling out of state to help give a baby shower for one of my other daughters. It’s her first child, and I’ll be returning the following month to help when our new granddaughter arrives. Who would choose a clean house over that?

But between trips, I’ll renew my relationship with the dust rag, and I’ll dig in and once again enjoy seeing my reflection in the woodwork. At least for a day …

If you’re struggling with not being able to “do it all,” how might you give yourself a little grace?


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