Oh. My. Gracious.
I felt the blood pressure rising as I looked around - unmade bed (sheets coming off), clothes on the floor (knee deep in the closet), boxes still unpacked ("I'll get to it, Mom!" he'd promised me, over and over again.).
But oooohhh how the smoke began to pour out my ears when I saw this on his nightstand:
This, my friends, is evidence of a late night snack (his camping buddy had spent the night at our house the night before). Most boys might go for cheetos and cookies at midnight, but not Neal. He was in there, heating up the kitchen, making omelettes. That's my boy.
ANYWAY, I immediately picked up the phone and, after the "how's it going," chit-chat, I calmly expressed my deep disappointment at his slovenliness. I very seriously said that when he got back from camping, he would not be going anywhere for a while. There was a long silence. "Yes, Ma'am," he finally said, partly out of fear, and partly because his buddy was sitting right next to him and he did not want to engage me further. Smart man.
I was busy working and walked past the room several times. I said to myself, I am NOT touching this. This is disgusting. Besides, it's his responsibility, and he should clean it up.
But the more I looked at that room, the more I realized that the paralysis that struck me on an overwhelming level - with the entire house in confused shambles after the move - has also struck him. I think his room kept getting worse and worse - the food plate notwithstanding (you'd think he'd at least see that!) - because he just didn't know where to begin.
I'll just help him unload the rest of his boxes. There aren't that many.
There were eight. Eight boxes full of pencil nubs, firecrackers, award ribbons, notes from classmates, pocketknives, computer games, and, well, trash. I guess at the point that you have no idea what's in a box, what's a little trash going to hurt? What a mess. No wonder why he didn't know where to start.
I worked on his room all afternoon Saturday. Cleaning, sorting. Mostly throwing away.
As I worked, I kept thinking about mercy and grace. I don't know why the grace part was easier for me - I was giving him something he didn't deserve - a clean room in exchange for weeks of (what looked to me like) sloth.
But the mercy part...
At first, while I was still fuming about the mess, I kept thinking of what I wanted him to do in exchange for all the work I had done in his behalf. I wanted him to know how hard I worked. He should have to work hard, too! How about a little pain in there?
Maybe I could have him clean the windows. Wash the dog. Polish toilets. With a toothbrush. Remove a few privileges.
In the end, I chose mercy. I'm not sure why, except that (when I saw how big the job was) I knew he needed my help more than he needed a "lesson."
I guess I've been in that spot a time or two.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.