House, Work!

by Audrey on July 5th, 2014

 And as I was typing in the title for this post, instead of typing "housework" as a compound word, I decided to make it a command ~ House, Work!  Wouldn't you just love to tell your house to work?  Wouldn't you just love to give commands to all the stuff that accumulates? Like .... cobwebs,  disappear!  Vacuum, clean the floors!  

Why doesn't it work that way?

When I was a girl, my brothers, sister and I had to take turns cleaning the kitchen after supper. I disliked it very much.

One evening in particular, when it was my turn to do the dishes, it seemed we had the biggest meal we had ever had. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and loads of vegetables. Biscuits. To a little girl, the pots and pans seemed overwhelming.

Sigh.

I looked at the mess. I looked at the outdoors. I looked at the mess. I looked at the outdoors.

I chose the outdoors and out I went. I reasoned in my little mind that it wasn’t fair that I should have so much work to do. I thought my sister Hope always had the easy nights. I thought my brothers Tony and  Trent always had the easy nights and now Trent didn’t even have to do it anymore because his skin started breaking out.

Since my sister liked housework, I just figured that when she walked back into the kitchen, she would clean it up. See, not only did she like housework, she was kind.

I played and played outside ~ forgetting about the mess in the kitchen ~ until I finally came in. Then I saw it. Only now, the food had hardened on the plates. I complained to my mother. No sympathy. “It’s your own fault, you have made the job more difficult by running outside to play.”

I was devastated. Now, not only did I have to clean the mess, but also the job was more difficult and it would take longer.

But I learned something that night. Some things you just gotta do because you just gotta do them. Doesn’t matter if you don’t want to do them. Doesn’t matter if it’s not fun. I want everything in life to be fun.

I do remember being in the kitchen very late that night. After complaining and grumbling to myself a little while, I finally realized that I could choose to be cheerful and try to make it fun or I could choose to be miserable. But no matter which I chose, I still had to do the job. I chose, finally, to make it fun. I sang my way through the pots and pans. And I have since thanked my mother for making me do the job when, as I now know, would have been easier for her to do it herself rather than fight with me.

The memory of that night has helped me as a grown-up woman. See, I would still rather play in the yard than do the dishes.  I got that honestly, my mom is the same way.

But somewhere along my path of life, God seemed to hit me over the head with Proverbs 6:6-11

6 Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
7 Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
8 Prepares her food in the summer,
And gathers her provision in the harvest.
9 How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
10 “A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest”_
11 And your poverty will come in like a vagabond,
And your need like an armed man.

This passage has sustained me through many days of mundane housework. This is what God requires of me.

I should not need a chief, officer or ruler. I am to prepare for my family. I am not to be lazy. I am to be productive doing what needs to be done just because it needs to be done.

See, the housework thing is good for me. Even though I have spent far too much time complaining about the mundane tasks of housework, there is great satisfaction to be found in doing it. God has worked much joy and even fun into my life through it.

As I go about washing the feet of those in my home, I have time to treasure up things, to ponder them in my heart. I found myself doing that even as a young girl when my mom gave chores to me ~ cleaning out my closet, picking blueberries, snapping beans, picking butter beans.

Housework has a way of keeping me humble. Why? Because it is usually not appreciated. It is usually not noticed. It only seems to be noticed when it is not done and then it is expressed negatively like, “So Mom, what did you do with my stuff?”

Not, “Oh thank you mother dear for always washing my socks. Thank you for making this home so pleasant. You are such a wonderful mother. It is so rare that the laundry gets backed up.”

After years of doing housework, I’ve learned that it really is humbling. I suppose that’s why so many women don’t do it.

But I really do want to be like Psalm 131 records, O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me.

You know, as I write this,  I know there are many overwhelming issues facing our nation. Too difficult for me to solve. I cannot solve them - yet, I can organize a closet. I can eventually get to the bottom of the laundry basket ~ if only for a short time. I can plan, prepare, and then serve a nutritious lovely meal for my family. I can set a pretty table.

I can change the sheets on the beds. I can get the tub clean (usually). These things are not the sum total of my being. These chores are not all that I live for (not even close), but there is satisfaction to be found in small matters. Some things are too difficult for me, but I can maintain a home, teach grammar, potty-train little people, read books, and proof papers. These things quiet me just like the Psalmist goes on to describe: Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD From this time forth and forever.

When I do these things for the Lord and have my perspective kept in check through His word, I hope in the Lord for my nation. And I trust Him that I do so much for my country when I do so much for my home.

And you know what is so great about mundane, home things? Jesus Christ relates. He sympathizes with me. He knows what it is like to just do the next thing. He knows more than I do. He is constantly cleaning the messes of people's lives, messes He did not make. And you know what else? Wasn't God so good to have His own son grow up in a regular home - with a mom who was there making a home for Him?

Another thing I’ve learned. Housework keeps me out of trouble. If I am busy maintaining the affairs of my home, I can’t be watching daytime dramas. Nor can I be a meddler, a gossip or a busybody.

This is precisely what Paul had in mind when he was discussing young widows in 1 Timothy 5:13-14: And at the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach . . .

(Try that for a career goal on a college application!!)

Housework lets my children and my husband know that I care about them. That I am here. It becomes a training ground for them, too.

Of course, I still wish I could command my house to work.  I still wish I could snap my fingers like Mary Poppins. I really do. But I can sing doing the chores like her. I really can.

It is necessary to keep house, to do housework. I do so want to make a home and build up my family. I do it for them but even more, I want to do it to bring glory to God.

Colossians 3:23-24 says, Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

So, housework shows my obedience to God. Doing housework has nothing to do with whether or not my family or anyone else appreciates me.  Our culture may never really appreciate mundane work. To be honest, I cannot ever remember a time when I was growing up in my parents' home telling my mom that I was so grateful for her work in the home. Maybe I did but I certainly don't remember it.  

But you know what? God cared about her work.  And I've told her since I became a grown-up.  She taught me how to keep a home (even though I, many times, shirked my duties) and I am so very grateful.

The writer to the Hebrews, in chapter 6, says this: For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

So, yeah, there are many issues facing our nation. And I will pray for and carry out my civic duties. But more importantly – I’ll carry out my home duty, raise my children to know the value of housework, teach them to be great Americans and lovers of God, and I will keep my house.

And then, we'll go play in the yard.




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