[If you'd like to listen to an audio version of this blog, please click here: https://soundcloud.com/user-231831520/sets/when-im-cleaning-windows]
When my elder daughter started senior school four years ago, she was given what seemed, at the time, some very good advice: "Stay well clear of the "popular gang.""
If she had gone to one of the local schools (it was local people giving the advice) no doubt those words would have been wise, but at the school she attends it turns out that the "popular gang" consists of hardworking, intelligent and kind girls. Girls just like her in fact. Oops!
So it's taken her a few years to find her friendship group.
Yesterday was the first time she felt confident enough to invite a group of friends home. Five of them turned up for a Lord of the Rings movie marathon.
I took the position that, being teenagers, they would be happy if well fed and watered and they wouldn't be too concerned about the tidiness or cleanliness of the house. My husband disagreed. Out came the hoover. Out came the duster. Then he started on the windows...
Now, we don't have a window cleaner and I will be the first to admit that my windows do not have that crystal clear sparkle in which a housewife might take a proper pride, so I watched him with affectionate tolerance as he wielded a soapy rag and squeegee in the cold outside.
The problem was that, once he had cleaned the outside, the grime on the inside became glaringly obvious. Well, there was no glare; just grime!
So I set about cleaning the inside of the windows...
Which revealed the inadequacies of his outside cleaning...
Once that had been addressed, the remaining smears on the inside became visible...
By the time we had finished yesterday I was convinced that our windows would have passed the most stringent sunshine test.
Until this morning, when the sun shone in from a different angle... Big sigh...
It occurred to me that the analogy of the windows could fit our lives and our efforts in the direction of self-improvement.
Whether we start on our inside or our outside, we need to work on both, for both need work. We can take decisions and actions which affect our circumstances (the outside), but until we change our way of thinking and being, we cannot fully benefit from those decisions. That change in our thinking often results in further decisions and changes and so it goes on.
I have experienced this most recently with my marriage. A resolve to communicate more honestly has resulted in some hard conversations. This has cleared up a lot of things, but highlighted those areas where we needed to change our actions. Taking those actions has in turn revealed further scope for personal change.
All this has meant that our marriage is healthier now than it has been for a long time, perhaps than it has ever been.
Of course, there is still room for improvement. But, after all, perfection is so boring, isn't it?
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