Editor’s Note: Ben Emerson is the author of today’s post. Ben submitted his story to Prodigal and you can too.
I am sitting in a remarkably clean room. This room is a part of an entire floor of my house that also happens to be remarkably clean. And do you want to know the most remarkable thing about it?
I am terrible at housecleaning.
In fact, I had nothing to do with it.
Two weeks ago a group of my coworkers had a meeting at my house. We finished about an hour early and our director gave a suggestion about what we could do with our extra hour.
“So tomorrow, Ben’s girlfriend Andrea is coming to visit and she is going to be spending some time at the house. Since this is a house where 6 guys live, it might not feel all that ‘homey’ to her. So I think we could give her a gift and just make the house a little more . . . hospitable.”
Everyone seemed to love the idea of spending an hour cleaning my house. Everyone except me.
This is what I heard when he was making the suggestion:
“Since Ben is a total slob and has no idea how to treat his girlfriend well, we are going to have to do it for him.”
You see, I have lived in this house for 5 years and I have never done any kind of deep clean. I don’t even really know how to clean. And if I let all those people clean my house, they would get to see exactly how bad at cleaning I actually was. They would look at the corners and cabinets and closets that had never been swept or wiped down. They would see just how bad I let it all get.
I was not excited to spend the next hour hearing people comment on how disgusting my house was. And in case you think I am over-reacting, in those five years I lived at the house, I am pretty sure the microwave has NEVER been cleaned.
I felt ashamed. I felt incompetent. People in their late twenties should know how to keep a house clean.
I gracefully tried to get out of it. I had to find some way to tell them that they didn’t have to do it. But resistance was futile. The idea had already been planted and was now taking root and growing.
So I surrendered.
For the next hour, 11 of my friends cleaned the main floor of my house. Bethanee dusted the cobwebs from the living room. Vikki ran to the store and bought a bottle of Febreeze and some flowers for my room. Joel swept the sunroom. Robin slapped on the rubber gloves and attacked the bathroom. Marshae gave that weird little space behind the sink the scrubbing of a lifetime.
Slowly, my house began to look like a home. Like a place I was proud to live.
But as amazing as it looked and as grateful as Andrea was when she saw it the next day, it was something else that really shook me up.
The entire time, no one said anything about how dirty it was. Not a word.
No one commented on how gross the microwave or the stove was.
No one told me I was a slob.
The only thing they did was give me, my housemates and my girlfriend a wonderful gift. And the only thing I could do was receive it.
They gave me grace.
People looked right into the mess I had made through my laziness and neglect and ignorance and did not condemn me for it. They simply offered me a gift.
The reality of the Gospel came flooding into my life in a new way. I was experiencing the Word becoming flesh. I was reminded of how Jesus looks at our sin and disobedience and the mess we have made and offers himself as a gift so it can be made right. And all we can do is receive it and let it change us.
It was a free gift for me. But it was a gift that I was able to share with people I love. Because of what someone else did, I had something to offer to someone else.
May you experience the tangible grace of God today. May you be reminded of this amazing gift that has been freely given for you.