Growing up, I’m not sure if your Mom did or not, but mine would constantly be telling me to clean my room. “I don’t know how you find anything in there. Your room is a mess!”, she would say.
But the thing is, that it was MY mess. And because of that, I knew exactly where everything was, even if my Mom didn’t. I knew that if I needed any extra hangers for my closet (which never happened, because all my clothes were on the floor), they were under the stack of papers on my desk. I knew that if I needed some scissors, they were in the corner of my headboard, by my bed. If I needed a pair of shorts, I could just dig around for a bit on the floor by the window, and there they would be. It was a perfect system, and I had no need to change it!
And then I moved to College. The apartment was divided up into three bedrooms, two guys to each room. I moved in, set my room all up the way I liked it, and that’s how it stayed – for a few weeks.
Over time, I got lazy. Clothes began to pile up on the floor, textbooks were scattered everywhere, and just about everything else you might find in a College apartment. The only problem was that it was no longer JUST my room. I was sharing it with someone else (who later turned out to be my second cousin. Crazy, huh?). This ‘someone’ had their own habits, and their own way of organization. And sadly, he was about as comfortable with a messy room as I was.
Halfway through the semester, I couldn’t find a single thing. I was missing those textbooks that I oh-so-desperately needed to study. Dishes were stacking up throughout all parts of the room. I couldn’t easily tell which clothes were mine, and which were his. That room was a complete and total disaster.
That was the breaking point. Jointly, we decided to clean the room, organize it all, and keep it that way. We made certain to keep things clean, and picked up, so that never again would we lose anything. And remarkably enough, it actually stayed clean!
While on my Mission, I taught a lot of people who had the “messy room” mentality, that I did while living at home. “Why should I change? I have my system, and it works for me.” I think of one man in specific, Edgar, who simply could not see the benefit or blessings that come from the Gospel. No matter how much we tried to coax, persuade, bribe, or encourage him, we could not get him to act for himself. He simply did not see the need in his life to read the scriptures, go to Church, to pray, or to get baptized. He had his life in such a way that worked for him, and so why did he need to change it?
Sadly, we as humans need a crisis or something big to wake us up. We need a breaking point, where we simply can’t take it anymore. We need a point where something “clicks” and tells us to snap out of it, to clean up, and to change the way that we’ve been running our lives.
But the thing is, it’s not just our life. Our life doesn’t belong to us. It’s been loaned to us. It’s like a rental car. The car is yours to use, but you’d better take nice care of it. If you take it back with scratches all down the side of the door, dents in the fender, and the rear bumper falling off, they’re not going to be very happy with you. This life is shared with another person. And that is Jesus Christ. Jointly, together, you can clean up your life.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is like a clean bedroom. Things are organized. Things are put away. There are no dirty dishes left on desks, or pieces of notebook paper and old homework scattered across the floor. Through Christ, jointly, you can organize your life in such a way that you can find where you’re going and breathe easy.
And that doesn’t mean that the room won’t gain a little clutter from time-to-time, or that your car won’t get a little dirty or gain a few scratches. But you’ve made that promise to maintain it.
So here’s my challenge: Take a step back and evaluate your life right now. Take a look from a third-person perspective, and see what you need to change before you hit that “breaking point.” Make a promise to your Savior, right now, that you’ll maintain your “loaner life” in such a way that will be pleasing to him upon return.