Tag Archives: compulsive

Grout of Control

28 Feb

Last night I spent five grueling hours cleaning my kitchen tile grout.  With a toothbrush.  After nearly fifteen years of marriage, my husband knew exactly what this meant: I was feeling completely and hopelessly out of control.

Like most “average” adults who have successfully survived childhood, I come from a dysfunctional family.  I can say this with the greatest love and respect for both my parents.  Whatever they did wrong in raising me, I now allow them to blame fully on their parents.  And I reserve the right to do the same. That’s part of the circle of life, right?

Nevertheless, there were inevitably those times in childhood when I felt small.  Helpless.  Unable to make others happy, much less change them.  But somewhere along the way, I learned to turn my attention to a different world, the little one I could at least try to control.  I might clear off my dresser, enjoying the sensations of an ammonia-rich paper towel wiping away the marks–as if my own troubles–by the power of my own hand.  Or I might rearrange my bedroom furniture, afterwards closing and opening my eyes from various vantage points, pleased at the newness of my surroundings.  I found great solace in my space and even greater comfort in cleaning it.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I seriously considered renaming my two-year old “Bissell”, somewhere between finally vacuuming up the thousands of nearly microscopic beads he spilled all over my office floor and steam-cleaning the bronze metallic paint he stealthily applied to my window-seat cushions.  And don’t even ASK about potty training, because we’re making fabulous progress.  He’s all for it, when it’s time for bed.  Otherwise, he saves his most “high-impact” BM’s for when we’re running out the door and late.  Then there’s my sweet Cassidy, whose future middle school education has become the impetus for my husband and I to consider moving, as well as for my husband to mention the possibility of my returning to work–sacrilege!

I am not often at a loss for words, but there are simply times when I’ve said and heard too many of them.  That’s when I choose to retreat into silence.  So after the arrival of The Great Peace, that precious evening time after Avery is in bed, I quietly took up the grout-scrubbing.  I went to bed at three and woke up four hours later to the screaming sound of “Mom-MEE!  Poop-PEE!”  (Yes, he’s also fond of waking me up to tell me he’s just gone.)

Yet even amid the rush to get everyone ready for church, I admired my work.  The grout glistened bright in the light of dawn, not hindered by the morning’s crumbs or frustrations.  Its beauty eclipsed even the extreme tiredness of my body.  I had conquered the grout.  Here, at last in my week, was something I could control.  Now, if only the problem of Cassidy’s middle school could be solved so well.

My answer came soon after.  As the Chicks know, I sing in the Praise Team at Peace Church here in Hunter’s Creek. Well right there in the middle of singing the closing song today, I began to realize how up until now, my recurring life theme could be summed up as:  losing control, trying to regain control, losing control, etc.  Maybe I need to stop trying to control so much and just get used to living more out of control.

After all, the creative process–like the rest of life–is downright messy.  But maybe there’s a time for tidying up and a time for living in chaos, if you will.  In fact, it seems like the chaos time is the vast majority.  So then the key is how to live within it, how to find lasting peace, how to create, even if the grout is dirty.

Oh, and the title of that song?  “God Is in Control.”  Well, at least someone is.

For those who are interested, here are the lyrics by Twila Paris:

This is no time for fear
This is a time for faith and determination
Don’t lose the vision here
Carried away by emotion
Hold on to all that you hide in your heart
There is one thing that has always been true
It holds the world together

God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, we know
God is in control, oh God is in control

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