clean it up

At 9:00am Saturday morning, Rachel, Michelle, Angela, and I found ourselves heading into the shower room with mops, brooms, brushes, brillo pads, Mr. Muscle liquid, and bleach. Michelle and Angela (the other two American teachers here for one/two semesters) had had the idea to do a serious cleaning in the shower room, and we had hopped on the bandwagon. The showers were pretty nasty, so we were eager to see how much better we could make it. But we had no idea what we were in for.

This school has been in operation for 9 years, and we’re all wondering whether these showers had ever had a deep cleaning. The rust and iron stains and bad enough, but then there was enough hair in the drains to fill up two plastic bags… anyway. Mom, I will never complain about cleaning our bathroom again. We spent 4 hours doing nothing but scrubbing, rinsing, scrubbing, rinsing, bleaching, scrubbing, and rinsing. And at the end… it hardly looked different. While it definitely is cleaner and it will make showering a much nicer process for us, overall the floors are still brown and stained, the pipes are still covered in dried… stuff, and the rust still has dominion.

Even though we poured out hearts and souls into those showers, they had been left dirty for so long that it would take far, far more than a one-time effort to make them truly clean again. And…. that sounds like a spiritual parallel!

In our relationships with others, we do not have time to let disagreements, grudges, or selfishness sit. Left alone, it will start to rust. Or breed mosquitoes – who knows! I learned this lesson this week in two ways: in the showers, I saw the consequences of leaving dirtiness alone, and on Tuesday, I learned the benefits of making reconciliation.

Tuesday morning, we were all out in the courtyard. I was sitting down, and someone was taking a picture in front of me, so I scooted down the bench in order to be out of the picture. And as I sat down again, I heard a snap. As I looked down to see what it was, Angela turned around as well and saw… her new sunglasses broken on the bench. “Oh, Angela!” I said, not sure what to say, but she starting immediately raving about how everything in China is cheap and breaks easy, and how she had barely even tossed them onto the bench and they broke! She didn’t even know I had done it. And she didn’t ask me. I just stayed silent and let her think that I had nothing to do with it. After all, I knew they had cost 100 Yuan, and that was about half of the spending money I had left. I couldn’t afford to reimburse her. She would never know.

That night, it kept me awake. Sure, I hadn’t lied to her. But then again, isn’t allowing someone to believe a deception basically the same thing? I didn’t have to tell her, but could I really spend the next four months with her knowing I had deceived her? I couldn’t pay her 100 Yuan… but wasn’t even that much worth a restored relationship?

I knew if I let the thoughts fester too long, if I let too much time pass, it would become so much harder to clean up this mess I had made by not telling the truth from the beginning. So the next morning, I found Angela in the office, and just told her. I told her that I didn’t know why I hadn’t told her the truth from the beginning, but I sat on her glasses. And I gave her 100 Yuan and asked her to go a buy a new pair. She said it was okay, but that wasn’t really the important part. I left knowing there was nothing between us.

Is there a mess you need to clean up? Each day allows the rust stains to sink deeper and deeper in. Cleaning up might require sacrifice – maybe money, maybe pride, maybe time. But it will be worth it to see your relationship sparkling clean.


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