“I didn’t make this mess. So why do I have to clean it up?”
For years, I heard these words of protest from my kids when it was their turn to clean up the kitchen.
Sometimes, I responded with a snarky comeback about all my years of selfless diaper-changing. Other times, I cleaned up the kitchen myself.
Honestly, whenever I took care of the kitchen on my own, I caught myself thinking the exact same thing:
I didn’t make this mess. So why do I have to clean it up?
The problem with cleaning the kitchen
Our protests reveal our belief that whoever makes the kitchen mess should be the one to clean it up.
As with so many time-honored cliches, this seems so logical.
Like, “You break it; you fix it.”
And, “You make your bed; you lie in it.”
“You mess it, you clean it.”
It just felt right.
But it caused all sorts of overwhelmingly negative feelings, such as annoyance, frustration, irritation, and resentment. (Just for starters.)
A different way of thinking
A few years ago, I realized there are valid exceptions to the “you mess it, you clean it” rule.
1. Sometimes, the person who makes the kitchen mess has done so to bless the family, or perhaps a houseful of guests, with a delicious meal. Since they’ve done all the work of fixing the food, it’s only fair for others to pitch in and help with the clean-up.
2. Other times, the kitchen stays messy while a cleaning-related process is happening, such as running the dishwasher or waiting for pots and pans in the drainer to air dry.
3. Often, it’s impossible to figure out “who made this mess.” When we try, we end up in petty arguments:
– “No, that’s not my knife. I put my knife in the dishwasher already!”
– “Those aren’t my crumbs. I know how to use a sponge!”
– “The stain in the sink is green. I never fix green food.”
Our solution to cut the complaining
Instead of wasting our time and energy fretting about “who made this mess?” we started asking ourselves one simple question when entering the kitchen:
“How can I move the kitchen to its next stage?”
Together, we came up with a list of kitchen stages and necessary actions:
The sink is full of dishes. Put them in the dishwasher.
The dishwasher is full. Run it.
The dishwasher is clean. Empty it.
The dishes in the drainer are dry. Put them away.
The counters are crumby. Wipe them down.
This one simple change in focus produced surprising results.
1. We’ve quit worrying about “Who made the mess?” and accepted the fact kitchens get messy.
2. We’ve all taken ownership of the kitchen. And its messes and clean-up.
3. We’ve become more considerate. We realize when we each do our small part, the “next stage” requires far less work.
Making it work for you
Your kitchen stages may well be different than ours. And if you have younger children, you’ll want to break the various stages and actions into micro-steps. Perhaps even make a stages flow chart and wipe-off checklist to put on the fridge.
Consider printing and posting 1 Corinthians 12:14-27 as a reminder that while we are unique individuals, God calls us to work together as one.
One Small Win: However you choose to do it, intentionally change the protest “I didn’t make this mess!” to the question “How can I move the kitchen to its next stage?”
You’ll say, “Good-bye” to overwhelming negativity.
And “Hello” to cooperation in the kitchen.
Cheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. Her passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes and speaks from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.”
Cheri is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life and Overwhelmed.
Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-eight years and is “Mom” to Annemarie (25) and Jonathon (24), also opposite personalities.
Are you a Highly Sensitive Person? Take the self-quiz and discover the surprising strengths of a tender heart.
I had failed.
My failure felt huge, as if someone had come into our backyard with a backhoe and dug a hole as large as our house. And now I was sitting by the hole—broken, beaten down, discouraged—trying to fill this huge hole back up with one teaspoon of dirt at a time.
For me, this feeling of having failed big time—so big that I couldn’t imagine any hope of repair—happened in my coaching business.
Have you felt failure?
Maybe you’ve felt this way, too.
- Maybe you felt defeated in a relationship with someone you loved. Now you are no longer speaking.
- Maybe you’re blaming yourself for your child’s poor choices.
- Maybe you tried something new at work only to have it backfire.
The exact details of my failure aren’t important. Let’s just say they involve regretting a large financial investment, hurting from many misunderstandings, and feeling totally discarded. As if all of a sudden, my work and I didn’t matter any more.
A failure too big?
As I processed the pain and loss, I began to change my thoughts about this event, which originally felt like a failure “too big to fix.”
Changing my perspective on “success” and “failure” actually helped me to gain more momentum than if the “failure” had never happened.
For years, I wrongly believed success in business meant I would reach a point when I no longer “failed”.
Do you feel this way about parenting, work or relationships? Are you just waiting for the day when you make your last mistake?
Here are a few new ways I’ve learned to look at failure from studying high achievers.
- They accept making mistakes is a natural part of succeeding.
- They learn from their mistakes.
- They do not allow the fear of failure to hold them back.
God never stopped working in my failure
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably way too hard on yourself when you make a mistake.
Maybe you feel like you’re sitting by a huge hole. A failure of your own that feels too big to fix! Trying to fill it back up with a teaspoon.
God honors the smallest thing we do. It’s as if He comes in behind us and throws in shovelfuls of dirt when we aren’t even looking. Over time, the hole fills back up.
One Small Win: Today, let go of putting so much pressure on yourself by expecting a “failure-free” life. Instead, accept when you make mistakes or even fail, God still works.
Success isn’t all “up to you.”
Watch and be astounded at what I will do. For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.” Habakkuk 1:5
How does it change things for you to realize that failure is a necessary part of success?
Mary Lou Caskey trains Christian coaches and communicators to influence hearts through the power of story. If you want to become a transformative story-teller, click here to connect with Mary Lou and get her free quiz, “Is It the Best Time to Share a Personal Story?”
I struggle with bitterness.
It’s not something I love to admit, but it’s my reality.
Struggling with the same issue over and over is like being drawn into the warm glow of a campfire only to realize you’ve actually stepped into a raging inferno – again. It’s ugly. It’s exhausting. And it’s overwhelming.
Holding my bitterness captive
When God brought my struggle with bitterness to light in my early 20s, I took hold of a simple, yet powerful way to combat it: a notecard with a Bible verse written on it.
I know, I know, this seems too simple to have any type of impact. But let me share with you how it helped me hold my bitterness captive.
In my mid-20s, several of my friends married. They found their Prince Charming’s and set off into the sunset. I sludged away at work and the single life. It wasn’t where I wanted to be.
I had yet another friend get engaged, and I was asked to be an honorary bridesmaid (yes, not a real bridesmaid, but a JV bridesmaid). I was still honored to have been asked, so I agreed. One of my other single girlfriends and I fulfilled our bridesmaid responsibilities together for our mutual friend. However, over the course of our friend’s engagement, I noticed my friend’s snide remarks and expressing her desire for the wedding to be over. She was cold, calloused, and angry. In other words, she was bitter.
And it made me sad.
The ravaging of bitterness
I had an up-close-and-personal view of bitterness and how it ravaged her. And I knew I didn’t want that to be me.
It was after this I claimed scripture over this sin in my life.
Enter the notecard with a verse written on it.
When faced with circumstances that caused my bitterness to rear its ugly head, I took a notecard and wrote a scripture on the notecard that specifically pertained to my struggle. Then I carried it on me. Literally. I folded the card and kept it in my back pocket. And whenever those ugly feelings of bitterness seeped up, I whipped out my notecard and read the verse over and over.
And you know what happened?
As those words permeated my heart and mind, bitterness began to erode. Suddenly, my bitter heart was now one defined by joy and peace because of the transforming power of scripture.
One Small Win: If you’re stuck in the overwhelm of bitterness – or any other sin that seems impossible to overcome – get your pen and notecard, then find the Bible verse that will be your battle cry. When those moments of temptation arise, divert your eyes and heart to the notecard with truth written on it. Soak up the truth and walk in it!
So, what’s your struggle? Grab a pen, notecard and your Bible and take your first step toward claiming victory!
Here are a few scripture recommendations if you need to let go, move forward or live boldly!
Kate Hollimon delights in helping women learn their God-given purpose while growing in Christ through the study of scripture. Kate is a speaker and blogger who designed the Live Your Purpose Workshop to help women discover their purpose to glorify God. Kate is married to her husband Matthew of seven years and together they have two kiddos – a boy and a girl – and are in the thick of sippy cups, potty training, temper tantrums and peanut butter and jellies. Connect with Kate at www.katehollimon.com.
by Kelsee Keitel
Would you join me in a moment of silence for all the Tupperware containers lost due to my neglect? First stranded in my vehicle for weeks, then tossed to their dumpster deaths?
I can’t tell you the number of Tupperware containers I’ve thrown away without even attempting to open last month’s leftover salad. (At least I think that was salad; you never can tell after 30 days.)
Sometimes I think my Camry is more like a scrapbook than a car.
If given the chance to ride shot-gun amongst my leftover lunches, you may notice the floorboards are littered with last week’s junk mail, sermon flyers from at least four Sundays back, and straw paper memories of the last several early morning fast food breakfast meals I’ve consumed (Chicken-Minis anyone?).
Make your way to the backseats, and you’ll find a baker’s dozen of half-consumed water bottles, about a week’s worth of wardrobe, and enough old receipts to save a rain forest.
I don’t even have children. I can only guess what goodies they would add to my collection!
I remember being 16 and thinking I’d never trash my beloved ride to freedom.
But here I am.
Life, it turns out, is messy.
And you might be in the lane next to me, surrounded by your own junky memorabilia.
I actually don’t mind cleaning my vehicle all that much. But getting myself to actually do it? That is the problem.
I’ve got every excuse for procrastinating this job. My biggest being that the temperature outside is too uncomfortable. (I live in Indiana … so the hot is hot and the cold is COLD!) My next excuse, I honestly forget until the next morning when candy wrappers spill out when opening my door.
But there is hope!
I recently found a system that works for me. I still use the floorboards as my personal dumpster (we’re breaking one habit at a time here, okay?). I no longer have trouble making myself clean out my car.
Here’s my simple system:
When you leave for work in the morning, take two plastic grocery sacks to the vehicle with you.
Go about your day and make as many messes as you like.
When you get home at the end of the day, you’ll be prepared to clean out your vehicle (which happens to be the perfect temperature because you’ve been driving it!)
Fill one plastic sack with trash. Fill the other with items that need to go inside.
On your way inside throw the trash in the trashcan.
Bam! You’re done!
I like this system so much that I’ve started to leave a supply of sacks in my car to tidy up whenever I feel inspired.
One Small Win: If you tired of putting off the task of cleaning your car, gather up some grocery sacks right now and put them by your car keys. Next time you leave, equip yourself for the job with no excuses.
Just think of all the Tupperware we can save!
Kelsee Keitel is a graduate student and blogger, living in Indianapolis, IN, with her newlywed husband. She is passionate about cultivating sisterhood through vulnerability and introducing young women to the freedom and abundance of life in following Christ. When Kelsee is not snuggled up with a book and sipping tea, she can be found experimenting in the kitchen or chatting with her mom.
You can read more about how Kelsee experiences divine moments in the midst of ordinary life over at kelseekeitel.com or on Instagram and Facebook.
“We all pay an Overwhelmed tax,” Kathi tells me.
To myself, I think: Well, maybe you do, but I’m sure I don’t.
Aloud, I say: “How interesting!”
Kathi gives an illustration of adding a service to her cell phone during a trip and then forgetting to cancel it. This resulted in paying months of unnecessary extra charges.
Again, I think to myself: Well, maybe you do that kind of thing, but I’m sure I don’t.
Overwhelmed Tax: The Dental Work Payment
Later in the week, I visit my dentist who kindly but honestly informs me since I’ve waited so long to see him, what could have been a filling now needs to be a crown … possibly a root canal.
I start to throw myself a pity party.
This is so unfair. I work so hard. I’m so busy. I don’t have time to …
Kathi’s words interrupt my thoughts: “We all pay an Overwhelmed Tax.”
And I wonder: Do I pay an Overwhelmed Tax, after all?
Overwhelmed Tax: The Plane Ticket Fee
A few weeks later, I add an item to my to-do list:
“Book a return flight for Annemarie.”
I check the price online: thanks to a special deal, it’s under $100.
“Book a return flight for Annemarie” stays on my to-do list.
Finally, I put, “Book a return flight for Annemarie” on my calendar.
When I go online, I find that the ticket price has doubled.
I start to kick myself for being so …
… so what? Lazy? Hardly. I’ve been busy. And sick.
Kathi’s words return: “We all pay an Overwhelmed Tax.”
And instead of wallowing in denial, persecution, or punishment, I accept the truth:
Today, I’m paying a hefty Overwhelmed Tax to Southwest Airlines.
Overwhelmed Tax: The Acute Pneumonia Fallout
It’s one week before Christmas, and I’ve been sick for nine weeks straight.
Two months ago, I determined to soldier through my many commitments. But the worse my cough became, the more I had to cancel.
I finally do what I should have done long ago: take myself to Urgent Care. I emerge with a diagnosis of pneumonia, a prescription for antibiotics, and doctor’s orders to rest.
By Christmas Eve, my symptoms are almost gone, and my strength is returning.
On the way home, I begin to tally up the Overwhelmed Tax I’m paying because I failed to seek medical care early on.
• A bunch of time-sensitive projects are way behind schedule.
• My family has had a grouchy, lethargic wife and mom for way too long.
• I have neither rested well or worked well nor played well for two long months.
All because I was too overwhelmed—by busyness, by annoyance, and even by pride—to make the choice to see a doctor sooner.
Minimizing the Overwhelmed Tax Damage
I now agree with Kathi: We all pay an Overwhelmed Tax.
(And if you’re tempted to tell yourself, “Well, maybe you do, but I’m sure I don’t,” think again!)
One Small Win: Here are three effective ways we can minimize the Overwhelmed Taxes we pay:
1. Audit the Overwhelmed Tax you pay. Start keeping track of the various ways you pay Overwhelmed Tax. Money isn’t the only kind of cost—often, it’s the least of our expenses! An Overwhelmed Tax can be exacted on your time, your energy, your space, your relationships, and your integrity.
2. Avoid paying Overwhelmed Tax when possible. Take the ten minutes to book the plane ticket while the price is low. Hire help: it feels so much more satisfying to pay others for their skills than to pay an Overwhelmed Tax (which feels like failure.)
3. Accept that we all pay an Overwhelmed Tax. When you can’t avoid an Overwhelmed Tax, give yourself grace. Learn what you can move on. The steepest Overwhelmed Tax on earth is failure to forgive—it’s far too high a price to pay for anything.
Which one simple step will you take today?
Cheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. Her passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes and speaks from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.” Cheri is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life and the upcoming Overwhelmed. Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-eight years and is “Mom” to Annemarie (25) and Jonathon (23), also opposite personalities. Cheri blogs about perfectionism, people-pleasing, highly sensitive people, and hope at www.cherigregory.com.
Why can’t my husband be more like me? I don’t need reminders. I see how dirty the floor is, and I put things back where they belong to make life easier for the next person.
If only my husband were more like … me!
Life sure would be easier if my husband saw these things like I see them, take action, and think ahead. Our marriage would be a whole lot better if he were more like … me.
I’ve had these thoughts more often than I’d like to admit. I am really good at seeing how the world looks through my eyes. But even if I had perfect vision, which I don’t, my narrow vision often blinds me from seeing the good in how my husband navigates life.
Why different vision is better
When I forget my husband sees the world through different eyes, I easily start feeling overwhelmed with a desire to make him more like me. When I get wrapped up in feeling certain that my way is the best way, I end up thinking that my husband’s ways are flat-out wrong.
And when I start thinking my husband’s ways are wrong, I’ve lost sight of his strengths.
A Dance For Two
The reality is (and the research shows) women are great at tackling many things at once. While men are skilled at focusing their attention on one thing at a time.
While it’s easy to raise our hands and do a victory dance at how us gals can talk on the phone, write out the grocery list, put dinner together, and change a diaper all at the same time. Our husbands get to do a victory dance of their own. As proud as we are of how God made us, we would be wise to also celebrate how God made our husbands.
We find joy when we intentionally find the good in something that frustrates us.
One Small Win: Today, think of one thing you typically wish your husband would do differently. Tell him (or text, call, or write him a note) that you are thankful he does this thing differently than you. (And, for extra credit, tell him why).
For example: I wish my husband would put his dirty clothes in the basket and do the laundry. “Honey, I am thankful that you don’t feel the need to be as tidy as I am. Sometimes, I don’t like that I am so hard-wired to be such a neat freak. I don’t appreciate enough that I could learn a thing or two from how laid back you are in this area. I may just forget about the laundry tonight and join you in watching a show.”
Embrace The Differences
Husbands tend to be better at loving us as we are. They typically don’t spend their lives trying to make us more like…them.
Imagine a marriage where your husband feels comfortable not having to do everything according to your version of “right”.
Imagine intentionally trading in your thoughts of disappointment and resentment toward your husband for thoughts of celebration and love.
What one thing will you celebrate about your husband today?
Amanda Davison is on a mission to share how her education in counseling and God’s word changed her marriage. She is sure to share personal, laugh-out-loud moments, which are woven with challenging yet inviting perspective change. As a speaker and wife coach, she tackles topics such as, becoming a confident wife, handling the real frustrations as wives, knowing and owning our high call as wives, and obedience. She wants to hear from you and hopes you will join with her on the journey of learning to love God’s people well.
Learn more about Amanda at www.amandadavison.com.