No one saw me do it. But yesterday, in my bedroom, I rolled up a pair of my husband’s khaki work pants, belt still in the belt loops, and chucked them against the wall.
I was angry.
Not at him. I was angry at all this housework.
It just kept coming.
At that moment, in my bedroom, I had already folded one basket of clothes, and two more baskets lay in a giant heap on our bed, waiting to be folded. (The socks are still in a basket up there right now, as we speak.)
But for some reason, yesterday, I felt like the housework was never-ending.
We had just gotten back from a trip, so there was a lot more laundry than usual.
But, have you ever had that feeling you are running around from room to room trying to pick everything up, and make it look clean–but somehow, even though you do this all day long–your house still looks messy?!
I was trying hard.
But I was losing it.
I cleaned the bathroom, I cleaned the kitchen, I picked up all the toys down-stairs, and ran them upstairs. Somehow, the toys kept coming back downstairs. (This happened about 5 times.) I made a good dinner for my family. I cleaned up from the dinner. I loaded and unloaded, and reloaded the dishwasher. And then there was the laundry–which by that point, I was chucking clothes at the wall…like a crazy person.
And I did it all with a big, stinky attitude, that cried, “Look at what I’m doing!” “Look at how much I’m serving you!”
Sometimes, housework gets the best me.
But this morning, in the quiet of the house, (my semi-clean, semi-messy) house, I felt the Spirit’s gentle prompting:
“If you can’t serve your husband, or your daughter, who are seen, how can you serve God, who is unseen?”
I quickly remembered throwing the pants at the wall. And my heart was pierced.
I turned to the Scripture that spoke about this. And read, “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” 1 John 4:20
I want to know God’s will. I want to share the gospel. I want to do ministry for the Kingdom of God. I want to change my community. I want to do all these great things. But then the Spirit whispers,
“But what about this?
What about this very small thing?
For the ones who you do see? Right in front of you?”
I forget what a priviledge it is to even be physically able enough–to do a few household chores. To get to make my home a refuge and a safe place, for a husband that faces the world each day, and provides so much for me, and a fragile daughter who needs my love and protection.
Who needs me to clean the tub, and fold her freshly washed, Snuggle-scented little 3T-size shirts. And the crumbs swept off the kitchen floor. And clean sippy cups.
And a husband who needs my hands to make meals, vaccuum the carpets, and open the windows, and let some air in this place. And make the bed, so he can fall into it after a long day at work. And who also needs my arms open wide, ready to embrace him. To love him.
(And not throw his pants at the wall.)
I don’t need a housekeeper. Or a nanny.
I need a new heart.
I need to exchange this heart of stone, for one of flesh. I need Christ to come lead me, come show me how to be tender, and kind, and willing to bend lower and lower still.
When I start feeling like, “Look at how much I am serving my family!” It’s usually because I’ve lost sight of how much my family serves me–all the time. I become blind to all the rich provisions and sacrifice my husband makes for me–daily and constantly–and without complaint. I forget how much joy and life and laughter my daughter brings to me. I forget what life would be like without her, or him in it.
Maybe my attitude needs to change from, “Look how much I am serving them!” To, “Look how much they are serving me!”
Because they are, all the time.
On our better days, my daughter and I play “Cinderella.” (Since we’re both obsessed with the new movie.) And she becomes my little helper with the chores. I call her “Gus Gus,” (like the mouse,) and she calls me, “Cinderellie.”
She stands on a stool next to the washer, and I hand her the dirty clothes, which she puts in, piece by piece. Sock by sock. (It takes awhile.) Then, I let her dump in the cups of detergent, and the creamy blue Snuggle. And with shaky hands, and huge smile, she does it. She’s so happy to get to do it.
She’s so happy just to help me do something.
And she begs me–to let her pull the warm dry clothes out of the dryer. And when I do, she looks at me and says, “Thanks Cinderellie!” Which I can’t help but smile at.
When I bring the baskets of clothes upstairs, and dump them on the living room floor. She runs and jumps in them like they are a big pile of leaves–and she laughs, rolling around in them. And I can’t help but laugh with her.
And I’m happy. Here. Doing just this simple thing.
With her. And for her.
She’s teaching me–what joy looks like.
She’s teaching me that serving someone can be fun.
Housekeeping doesn’t have to get the better of us.
It can instead, bring out the better in us. It can bring out Christ in us.
If we choose to let it.
It can bring out moments of joy, because your daughter is jumping in the clothes like a pile of leaves, and calling you “Cinderellie,” and giggling the whole time, like it’s the best place on earth. Because to her, it is the best place.
Or, you can do it all by yourself. With a bad attitude. You can run around from room to room and try to make it look like no one lives in your house. And you can chuck clothes at the wall. And think about how much you’re serving everyone. And forget how much they are serving you and loving you. All the time.
You can say about your chores, “I have to do this.”
Or, “I get to do this.”
If I can’t love and serve these ones here with me, who are seen, how can I love and serve God, who is unseen?
Don’t let housework get the best of you. Don’t let it steal your soul. Or your tenderness.
Be like Christ. Who joyfully lays Himself low, to serve and to love. And this laying low and serving and loving–gives life to people.
Don’t let housework get the best of you.
But do let your family get the best of you.
The part that laughs. That scoops up the crushed Cheerios off the carpet. That lets the kids jump into the pile of clothes. And who asks God for help when she feels she can’t give any more. And who asks God for help when she forgets how much she’s been given.
And who asks God for help when she struggles to love and serve her family–who is seen.
For the God who is unseen, sees you. And loves you.
And He sees it all. He is gracious, and kind, and tender. He pours out His love for you, He lays Himself low for you.
And no one can love, truly love, without Him leading the way.
And He will teach you to love the ones who are seen. As He shows you the love, of the One who is unseen.
“For we love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
I pray you know His love. I pray I know it. Because without it–we have nothing. Just clanging gongs and cymbals. Just rolled up pants smacking against the wall. But with it–with His love–we have the power to give life in our homes, to move mountains, to part seas, and to make a way–for God to come through. In our living rooms, and kitchens, and bedrooms.
For the One who is unseen, can be quietly seen, in us.
When we love.