For years, I struggled with my daughter about her messy room. I felt guilty because I didn’t teach her to keep it clean. I didn’t model tidiness or organization. And it always reminded me of my own childhood years because my room was always a mess, too. It made me think of how I constantly battled those You’re Not Good Enough thoughts and didn’t feel very good about myself most of the time.
One evening at bedtime, after stories and prayers, I had a heart-to-heart talk with my daughter. I asked her to look around her room and tell me what she saw. A big mess of course. Things all over the place, and that stuff we jokingly called Trinket Carpet covering the floor. I asked her if what she saw was beautiful. Then I asked her if that was how she felt inside. Messy. The opposite of beautiful.
We talked about how Yahweh had created her to be beautiful, how he is orderly and we are made in his image so we were made to be orderly as well. How the space around us reflects what’s within (click for part one of this series). Do we want to be surrounded by chaos and clutter? Or beauty? I shared with her my own struggles over the years with clutter and how as our wonderful, loving heavenly Father has healed the wounded areas in my heart, my ability to keep our home clean and more orderly has improved. As he has delivered me from the bondage of negative thoughts and revealed the truth about the lies I’ve believed about myself and, most importantly, him, my need to hang on to things has lessened and my ability to let go has increased.
At first, I was a little disappointed, because nothing happened. I really hoped that she would have that same A-Ha! moment that I had and choose to want to surround herself with a beautiful space. I was, however, tired of helping her clean her room and felt that this was a battle that would be wise to avoid for now. Several weeks went by and we talked about it again, but I wondered was it even possible to have clutter free kids?
Then one day, a miracle happened! My sweet, beautiful daughter decided that she did not want to have a messy room anymore. She cleaned that mess up all by herself. Not only that, but she kept it clean! I can’t find pictures to prove it, but she did, I promise. That was almost three years ago. She is now almost 14, and below you will find pictures of her room at our new home. We’ve lived here for almost a month now, and she keeps it pretty much like this all the time. Every now and then there’s some stuff on the floor (mostly books, drawing supplies or yarn) but she never lets it get out of control. I’m so very proud of her!
I am also so thankful that she has grabbed a hold of the truth that she was made to be a reflection of the beauty of Yeshua within her at a young age. Now, we talk about how important it is to train up our children while they’re young so when she is a mother some day, she can do better than I did in that area and have clutter free kids. Her brother is six, and tends to be a bit more neat than her by nature, but I still have to remind him often and be consistent, and reasonable, about what I expect from him. She sees me working with him now (in the ways I intended to work with her when she was young) so she is learning that way too.
Not having the “typical” messy teenager thing as a source of friction is a blessing as well. My mom always said she wished that I ended up with a child just like me some day. Fortunately, mom didn’t get her wish! Honestly, I hated when she said that. I knew she was talking about the bad qualities in me, not the good ones. As a mother now, I understand it was out of frustration. But at the time, it was hurtful, really. Be encouraging, even when you’re frustrated. Don’t accept that all teenagers have to be messy (or rebellious, rude or whatever their peers on TV portray) and talk to them about making their own choices, not just following the crowd.
Each one of your children is unique, and the approach you need is unique as well. Above all else, pray and ask the Father to show you how to help your child or teen develop a desire to reflect that godly beauty he has placed within them. That conversation I had with my daughter? That was a complete God-thing. I didn’t plan it, he just dropped that nugget of truth in my heart and I knew that was what she needed to hear.