Monday, February 25, 2013

A question of degree

After hearing about the lessons taught in Primary this week, I have a few questions.

At what point does the Spirit become offended and leave the house?

Is it when there is just one sock on the floor? One toy? One hundred?

 If nobody can feel the Spirit in a messy house, I need to know where the line is.

Does the Spirit sit around and edify and teach us up until the 99th toy, but once that hundredth thing hits the floor, He's out of here? Or is it the 14th thing that's okay, but fifteen crosses the line?

Does the Spirit take into account how many people are in the house? Is there a per-person mess quota, or are 10 dishes in the sink too many regardless of how long it took them to get there?

Does the toilet have to be bleached after every use, or is cleaned once a day okay? Or once a week? Or does it matter the age of the people using it and how capable they are of cleaning it themselves?

Does the size of the house matter? Is it the mess density that drives the Spirit away, or the number of items?

Do we have to pass a white-glove test, or is a little dust on the door frames okay?

What about laundry? Does it have to be folded in the drawers? Socks paired or unpaired?

Windows washed weekly or daily?

Do I have to vacuum every day?

Is leaving a diaper on the floor after you change the baby better or worse than leaving your pile of clean laundry on the floor for a couple of days before you fold it (or just rewash because some small person dumped the dirty laundry into the pile, too, so they could slide down it)?

Does the Spirit make allowances for kids (or adults) with disabilities? Or is the final result the only thing that matters, not how hard it is to get there?

Does someone have to re-do the work the kids did wrong, like when the toddler puts the silverware away and it all gets in the wrong slots in the drawer? Does the Spirit open the drawers and cupboards and closets, too, or just glance at the rooms? What about under the bed?

And what final result is it we're going for--does it just have to be clutter-free, or does it have to be really clean (even under the couch!), or does it have to be decorated nicely according to the most recent style with high-quality, expensive furniture and original artworks? Does food storage count as messy--because most people don't keep cans under their beds, but where else can you put them in a two-bedroom apartment with a family of five living in it? What if someone else made the mess and it caused a stain and then you moved into the apartment? Does the Spirit refuse to join you in the new place because of the stained carpet or wallpaper? What if it's not stained, but it's just plain ugly? What then? Does the Spirit get offended by ugly? Or just messy?

Do people who don't know any better and then meet the missionaries have to have their discussions outside because the Spirit can't testify of the truth to them inside their messy houses?

Do we get a "pass" when we're sick, get cancer, have a spouse in the military, or just had a baby? How long does that pass last before things have to be clean again?

What about homeschoolers, who never get a break to clean the house when someone isn't behind them uncleaning? Do parents of gifted kids get a break? Because gifted kids are known for being messier...or are you penalized for being smart and random and creative because God prefers dumb sequentials who send their kids to public school?

What about single moms who are just barely hanging on, but they choose Family Home Evening over making the beds? Is it a waste of time because the Spirit was so offended by the sheets on the floor that He wouldn't come to family prayer that night?

What about spouses of artists? Artists have to leave their messes out while they are working. Or are there no righteous artists because the Spirit can't stand the mess?

And does that mean that it is more important to scrub the bathtub than read the scriptures, assuming you don't have time for both? Because what good is reading the scriptures if the Spirit is going to be offended and leave because there is soap scum in the tub?

Does the Spirit flee when a kid vomits on the floor? What about on his bed? What about on your bed? Does the Spirit distinguish between those? Or is vomit vile enough to drive the Spirit away regardless of where it lands or how often it shows up in one hour? Or does the Spirit only leave when you throw a couple of towels over the soiled sheet and go back to bed because there aren't any other clean sheets in the house and you know the kid is just going to puke again in ten minutes (or because the other kids in the other room started throwing up, too)?

Or does it have to be a really big disaster to drive the Spirit away, like when there's a potty training accident with the toddler while the newborn is nursing and the toddler manages to smear the mess all over the walls before anyone can get there because the preschooler was drawing on other walls with a permanent marker in the rental house and the kindergartner was making mud pies in the kitchen sink and clogged the pipes and flooded the wood floor while the big kids spilled red kool-aid on the white carpet in the living room trying to bring mommy a drink--all at the same time and an hour past bedtime when daddy is out of town on business? Does the Spirit flee then and leave the poor mommy to clean up on her own without the comfort and guidance of God's hand reassuring her--and the kids, after mommy loses it and yells and then has to apologize?

How many kids can a person have before the Spirit gets overwhelmed with the regular kid messes and leaves? I guess families with a lot of small children NEVER get to have the Spirit in their houses, if we're being honest. Except for that one hour after the Visiting Teachers came over because we had to crisis clean for four hours just so we could open the door.

I really need to know the answers here because I want to be worthy of having the Spirit, and apparently our floors are a really good indication of our worthiness. Apparently houses are such a good indicator of our righteousness that, when it comes down to the judgment day, Jesus is going to show God pictures of our toilets and floors, and I want to get it right. Is it okay to skip church as long as the house is spotless? That's the right order of things? Should I skip visiting teaching, personal scripture study, personal prayer, family prayer, fasting, family home evening, and Stake Conference to clean the living room? What good are doing those things if the Spirit can't be felt unless the house is clean, anyway?

And is it okay to swear at the kids to make them work and skip family prayer in order to get the books on the shelves in alphabetical order before bed? Or is dirt a bigger deal than clutter?

Or does the Spirit only get offended by regular, persistent messes? And, if that's the case, how long does a mess have to be there before the Spirit just throws up His hands and storms out because obviously you are not worthy of His help?

Or is it, perhaps, that you, personally, are so busy judging other people based on how their houses look that you lose the Spirit yourself?

Because last I heard, the Spirit dwells within us, not within our houses per se, and God is more concerned with the state of our hearts than the state of our hearths.

No comments: