I spent two months this fall and winter going where no man has gone before. My attic. And no man has gone there because, quite literally, no one could. The closest one could come was to stand at the bottom of the stairs and gaze upward, assuming that what you wanted probably was up there somewhere, but there was no way you could get past the fifteen boxes of miscellaneous junk, ten piles of play costumes, twelve stacks of electronic things your husband was certain he might need someday, and four bins of craft materials to actually look for it. Honestly, I am not exaggerating when I say that you could not get up those stairs. And if you could, you couldn’t move once up them.
But, as one of my favorite movie lines goes, “I am no man.” So up I went. Why? Well, my daughter is to blame. For the past couple years, she has been bugging me to clean it all up with her. She loves to organize. And I’ve always had an excuse. It’s too hot up there. It’s too cold up there. It’s too nice outside—I need to garden. I’m way to claustrophobic to work in the attic. All true. But none making her happy, as she really wanted to get the job done.
Then she left for three months. And I started to think of what great surprises we could create while she was gone to welcome her home with. You know what I realized was number one. So up I went, for two months, and cleaned that attic. I cannot tell you how many bags of stuff I gave/threw away. We probably could have clothed a small nation. Though my youngest daughter, who helped, would add that it would have to be a nation of girls with no fashion taste whatsoever, given what was in the attic.
Part way through, I realized something. That I gladly did for love what I would not do when she nagged me. We know this as parents and spouses, that nagging does not work. But we don’t really believe it. I got first-hand experience that it is so true. We don’t want to be bound by laws of what we should do. But we joyfully do the same thing if it’s an act of generosity to one we love.
Which, of course, is the entire point of the Christmas season we’ve just celebrated. God knows that. And he really, really wants us to do life with him because we love him like crazy, not because we feel like we must. He wants us to do things his way because we’re so glad he’s in our lives and we want to see his smile, not because we’ve been nagged. He wants us to look at what Jesus did for us in the cradle and the cross and say, “Wow. I’d really like to clean up my attic. Just for you. Just because.”