Don’t go changin’…

Don’t go changin’… That’s what got me singing:

Don’t go changing, to try and please me
You never let me down before
Don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore
I would not leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are
– Billy Joel

Well, maybe a little change is a good thing…

Those are great lyrics to demonstrate unconditional love. Not so great when it comes to home repair and upkeep!

Recently, we had to do a major repair, clean-up and de-clutter for a home appraisal. (No, we’re not moving. It was for other reasons!) In the process of preparing for the appraiser’s arrival, I had to look at rooms in our home from a stranger’s eyes. Rooms that I thought looked cozy and comfy were under piles of clutter. I realized that some quick spruce-ups were necessary.

Several hours of cleaning and straightening up by myself and my beloved, and we were ready. The sun sparkled through the windows. The floors gleamed. The cats cooperated and kept all of their hair off the freshly vacuumed furniture (sort of…)

Look quickly! There's no clutter. (Well... OK there's a book left on a chair.)
Look quickly! There’s no clutter. (Well… OK there’s a book left on a chair.)

It was worth the effort, but it took a lot to get to “show room” quality. For a few hours, we were picture perfect!

It got me thinking…

There are many things in our lives which are right in front of us and need improvement. But instead of addressing them, we just choose to ignore the mess. OR (perhaps worse) we see the problems, and decide it isn’t worth the extra effort to improve.

As I went about my day, picking up and clearing the decks, I couldn’t help but think about the way I approach the unwanted tasks in my life. Whether it’s mending or ironing, cleaning or de-cluttering, I make excuses to do ANYTHING else. Or perhaps it’s that last 20 pounds I am trying to lose and I sit and read (or play on-line) instead of exercising. (That stepper machine isn’t a coat rack… sigh…) I can find any excuse not to “just do it.”

Why is it so hard?

Because I’m selfish…
Because the status quo is easier than making a new habit…
Because I am afraid to put myself out there…
Because it’s slightly scary to decide to make a change when those old ruts are so familiar…
Because I don’t have enough confidence…
Because I have tried and failed in the past…
Because improvement takes work! And lots of it!

I think it’s a combination of all of the above. However, when I finally do overcome an obstacle (self-made or environmental) the feeling of accomplishment is huge. Our home is clean and inviting. The results were worth the discipline.

It’s lots of baby steps in the right direction (as FlyLady would say).  Lots of little tasks that add up into a big difference. Cutting out between meal carb-type snacks and walking more every day helped me lose 20 pounds in 4 months. The next 20 pounds will take more effort, but I still have it as my goal in 2014. (And I’m proud to say I’ve lost the first 2!)

Peter’s words come to mind:

This is why you must make every effort to add moral excellence to your faith; and to moral excellence, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, endurance; and to endurance, godliness; and to godliness, affection for others; and to affection for others, love. If all these are yours and they are growing in you, they’ll keep you from becoming inactive and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:4-8, CEB)

It’s a little staircase of intentional thoughts, words and deeds. Each depends on the other for forward progress. Slowly. Gently. Carefully. Thoughtfully. And with God’s help, we’ll all get there…

Blessed be.

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