Called to Clean (when our calling clashes with our expectations)

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"Maybe there is nothing wrong with struggling with the tension between occupation and vocation. Maybe the real tragedy is in not struggling at all — in flaking out on your responsibilities for the sake of your “calling” or compromising your dream for the sake of security."  Jeff Goins

“Maybe there is nothing wrong with struggling with the tension between occupation and vocation. Maybe the real tragedy is in not struggling at all — in flaking out on your responsibilities for the sake of your “calling” or compromising your dream for the sake of security.”
Jeff Goins

Cleaning and organizing didn’t fit my idea of God’s calling on my life. A book on the New York Times Best Seller list was more what I had in mind.

Scrubbing floors couldn’t possibly be a vocation, anymore than it could bring in enough money to help get on with my writing, right? Nonetheless, cleaning and organizing are turning out to be my calling during this season – the spring of 2013.

The influx of work came on the heels of much prayer and several discussions with my husband. All the while, I scrambled round and round in the vicious cycle of trying to find a way out of writing just for money, while scrambling for money so I could stop writing what I’d stopped enjoying.

“What do you really want to do?” my husband asked.

“Write posts for my own blog and work on a book,” I said.

“Then, do it.”

Easy for him to say, but by midday, every day, I felt every coherent sentence drain from my brain because of weekly deadlines. I was aware I was justifying not working on my own writing. I was also being realistic. There was little hope I’d get my personal stories on paper while having to turn in a couple of assignments a week.

I read advice about resistance, excuses, making time to write, and wasted hours, only to end up piddling on Facebook after I met others’ deadlines. I was tired by the time I got to my self-imposed ones.

Being published in magazines and newspapers and online had been exciting, fulfilling and fun, but now I was done – not with all of them, but at least the ones that were no longer any of those three things.

Around the same time, my husband and I started a nine-week class offered through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Being eager to hear sound financial advice didn’t mean I was also eager to hear what I was sure Dave would say, “You’re stuck in your job until you pay off all your debt.”

That could take years, maybe even decades, as slow as I write.

Instead, Dave asked me (via video) to write down at least one contribution I could make to bring in extra money for our household budget. He mentioned moving forward with “gazelle intensity” (I clean like a fiend) to pay off debt and “live like no one else,” one of his sayings throughout the course. Since none of my friends clean houses, I figured I must be on the right track – you know, living like no one else. Dave was actually referring to living debt-free, but I got a kick out of my housecleaning joke.

The weekend before I made the announcement at my networking group that I’d be freelance writing and cleaning their homes, our son said, “We weren’t created to sit in an office all day long.” Well, maybe some people are, but he and I are not. Our daughter said, “Weird as it sounds, I think cleaning is what you’re supposed to be doing. You’re so good at it, and you’re busy.”

Without knowing it, their statements made it apparent I was right where I was supposed to be.

The phone calls and messages to clean and organize came in daily, also making it apparent I was right where I was supposed to be.

And when customers said after their houses were clean, “I can feel my stress level lessening,” it was apparent I was right where I was supposed to be.

Wendy Pope wrote “Reshaping Me”, the May 7th Proverbs 31 post about being reshaped by cleaning a beauty salon’s bathroom.

To top off her post, “On Becoming a Janitor“ by Beth Pensinger showed up in my inbox two days later, letting me know, you got it, I am right where I’m supposed to be, even though Beth’s decided janitoring isn’t for her. Not now, anyways.

How well do you accept that you’re right where you’re supposed to be, even when where you are isn’t what you had in mind?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – As this plan unfolds, it’s feeling ministerial, it’s making money enough to supplement my writing, and it’s paying off debt. I’m staying tuned. Hope you’ll join me.

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14 responses »

  1. wow Kim! Love the comments by your son and daughter when you announced your new vocation – bravo. hugs to you, Cindy

    • Hey, Cindy. Yes, they are very supportive of just about anything we do, which is really great. In fact, we’ll run things by them because they’re wise for their age – sometimes I think wiser than us. 🙂

      Hope y’all are doing well. Hugs to you both!

  2. this is right up my alley. I love to clean and organize . I have done it for years yet it can be hard but once it is done you have made someone enjoy their homes and they can relax. it is a good feeling to help someone out. plus I can go into a household fill of messes and start to organize. it is a GIFT FROM GOD . When all is done it is so refreshing to me and them.

    • I didn’t realize you did this sort of work, Barb. We have a lot in common, and I feel exactly the same way – I believe it’s a gift to others and to ourselves. I love the feeling after a home is straightened up, pillows are fluffed, and everything is clean. Plus, cleaning is great exercise.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Beth, thanks for the memory. I haven’t heard the word gumption in years. My dad used to say it often – makes sense that he’s the one who taught me how to scrub a tub, tuck a bed, and clean on my hands and knees.

      I enjoy sharing your posts. You’re a wonderful, entertaining writer. Love you lots!

  3. From Facebook –

    SusannGarry Fryman I enjoyed reading this. Thank yor for sharing.
    Yesterday at 5:22am via mobile · Unlike · 1

    Diane Wilson Dale I loved it!!!!
    Yesterday at 7:30am · Unlike · 1

    Sherrie Glensky I loved it Kim and I tried to comment but it was looking for an old account so I could not log in.
    Yesterday at 7:38am · Unlike · 1

    Beth Jarrott Our plans and God’s plans always seem to differ! However, His plan is always better (I tell myself!) as He stretches and grows us for our benefit.
    Yesterday at 8:41am · Unlike · 1

    Jenine Marie I love it! I did this for awhile and mostly for elderly. I kept my rates below what large companies charge and I made enough to live on every single week. Sometimes I miss it because I miss THEM! The interesting thing is that in my journal this morning one of my affirmations had to do with finances. Sometimes while I was recovering after surgery I wished I had someone like me to just get things done so I would not worry about it. All other services were much more expensive than what I charged and yet I made it up in volume!
    Yesterday at 12:26pm · Unlike · 1

    S. Kim Henson Thanks so much, SusannGarry Fryman. Happy you stopped by to read.
    6 minutes ago · Like

    S. Kim Henson Thanks, Diane Wilson Dale. Great seeing you today.
    5 minutes ago · Like

    S. Kim Henson Sherrie Glensky, thanks so much for leaving a comment here. I’m headed over to Grand Strand Happening to read Tracy’s article right now.
    4 minutes ago · Like

    S. Kim Henson Beth Jarrott, remind me of this one more time since I got home at 10 after cleaning a rental house. I have to say, I burned a LOT of calorie and I know I’ll sleep great. His plans are different and interesting and always better – I just don’t always see that in the moment.
    2 minutes ago · Like

    S. Kim Henson Jenine Marie, thanks for sharing. It’s a great service to offer if you like cleaning, which I do. Sounds like you really enjoyed it also. Wish I lived closer and I would have helped you out after your surgery.
    a few seconds ago · Like

  4. “How well do you accept that you’re right where you’re supposed to be, even when where you are isn’t what you had in mind?”
    It only took me seven years of non-stop complaining and fighting with God before beginning to understand–and starting to accept–that the place I really don’t want to be just might be right where God wants me. One thing I’ve learned. Wherever I am, there are people there, and people are what God cares about. God loves people; and He wants me to love them, too–not just people in general, but the particular people I encounter in the place where God wants me to be.
    Great, thought-provoking post, Kim. Thanks.

    • You’re a fast learner, Dave. It’s taken me a lot longer than you, but, I have to say, 2005 to 2013 (a little over seven years) were the ones that taught me the most about being where God plopped me down instead of trying to force my will. And I’m finally thankful for most of that time because, like you said, I met and connected with people that I wouldn’t have otherwise. In fact, we may not have met had it not been for all the fits we were pitching … who knows? 🙂

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