I made a quarantine impulse purchase of a steam cleaner. I’ve been wanting to have the tile in my house steam cleaned for a while now, so I figured it would be a good chore for my kids to help with, plus save us the money of having to hire someone to do it (we have a lot of tile!). It turns out that what I always thought was a cream, textured tile with grey accents is actually just a plain cream tile. This means that all those grey “accents” that I’ve stared at for the nine years I’ve lived in my house are actually an accumulation of dirt and grime (GROSS!).
So, with all this time on our hands, our family has set to work on making our tile look clean…and it is definitely work. We set manageable goals for ourselves: we try to clean 8-10 tiles per day (I’ve estimated there are upward of 300 tiles in our house, so we’ve got our work cut out for us). The process involves steaming a tile for about a minute, scrubbing the tile to remove the dirt and grime, and then wiping the tile clean. At first, our kids complained about the chore, but once they started doing the work, they actually started to enjoy it because there is so much satisfaction when you finally wipe the tile clean and see what a difference it has made. We are far enough into the project at this point that we have no option but to continue. It’s such a stark difference between the clean tiles and the “non-steamed” tiles that we have to finish the entire room because the difference is so noticeable.
The past couple of days, as I’ve walked through my living room and glanced at the line of demarcation that has developed between the “clean” and the “dirty” sides of my house, it has struck me that even this is an example of how God is teaching me during this time. Prior to the coronavirus, I definitely would have put myself in the “clean heart” category. I am a lifelong Christian, I can make my ministry resume look pretty impressive, and I don’t have a hidden past. I honestly felt like I was in a pretty healthy spot in my Christian walk. But in much the same way as the steamer causes all the dirt and grime to fall away from the tiles in my living room, a little heat in my life in the form of isolation, uncertainty, threat of sickness, and unending change has caused a lot of dirt and grime to surface in my life.
Personally, this filth has been in the form of extreme fear that me or someone else in my household would get sick. Other times, it’s been in the form of a spiral of anxious thoughts about finances, groceries, and/or homeschooling my kids. Sometimes, this filth manifests itself literally in the form of panic as I wonder if our lives will ever go back to “normal” again. These are thoughts and feelings that I don’t want to sit in…but you know what I’ve learned over the past few weeks? God doesn’t want me to sit in those thoughts, either.
He wants me to take my fear, take my anxiety, take all the uncertainty that I am faced with and give it to Him. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” That’s a verse I’ve known for a long time, but in the past few weeks I’ve realized that I fail in the action portion of what that verse is asking me to do: “…by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving PRESENT your requests to God.” The Message version says, “Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.” God wants to take my fears and anxieties, but that requires that I first ACKNOWLEDGE that those are not of Him and to then present my requests to God in the form of prayer.
We all know the adage that the first step to overcoming something is admitting you have a problem. God has used the quarantine to reveal weakness…I don’t want to admit that I’m scared…I don’t want my friends to realize that though it appears I’m holding it together, inwardly I may be panicking…and I sure don’t want to tell God all of those things. BUT…He is faithful.
In the same way that my family and I have used our elbow grease to clean the filthiness off of each of the individual tiles in my house, I am working hard to give my fears, my anxiety, my pride, and my insecurities to the Lord and He is wiping my heart clean as I’m presenting all these things to Him. It is hard work, and sometimes it’s uncomfortable and I don’t necessarily want to do it, but I know that it’s what God desires of me, and I am confident that it will lead to a fuller and better relationship with Him as a result.
I know that is true, because His Word says that it is. Psalm 51:10 says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” God is doing a work in me, and as a result, I get a renewed spirit, a fresh start, a new beginning. This is not what I had planned for my 2020, but I’m confident that all my days beyond will be better because of this refining. I’m also confident that God is using this time to refine you, too. Call me, text me, FaceTime me, and tell me about what you’re working hard to give to God. When all this is said and done, I will invite you over, and we will literally eat off of my tile floors (because that’s how clean they will be) and we will talk about how grateful we were for the time to listen and respond to God’s promptings.
By Jordan Browning. Jordan is a wife to Blair and mother to Keely, Boone, Addy, and Kirby. She’s a better cook than she is a baker, loves Jesus with all of her heart, and is always ready and willing to sit and chat over an ice-cold Diet Coke.