The Truth in the dirty dishes

Today, I matched socks out of a basket while sitting on the potty.

I’ve never done that before. As I did so, I tried to decide if I should consider this efficiency? or a new personal low in home management skills?

As a working mom, ministry wife, and mom of 3 (and a half!), I have definitely had to change the way I do housework. And even how I think about housework.

Growing up, I was taught to go to sleep every night with the house tidy and the dishes put away. To dust and clean the bathrooms once a week. Sweep daily. Clean our rooms.

I took these habits into college. We had a tidy apartment. I took these habits into marriage. I continued cleaning, maintaining, and I never worried about what people thought about our home when we had company.

Then, we had a kid. I was able to keep house mostly the same way, but it did get harder!

Then we had two. I started to feel that if there was a war between housework and me, I was going to suffer defeat occasionally. I remember feeling somewhat relieved when we planned for company over because the house finally would get the cleaning it needed that I could no longer do on a weekly basis.

THEN, we had number 3, and household soundly defeated me. Constantly.

This was also the time I walked through some pretty significant depression. As God worked through this and through me I realized some things:

I learned that I have so much, way too much, of my identify and my self-worth tied up into keeping a clean house. My dirty dishes lie to me and tell me I am a failure. And, sometimes, I have a hard time not believing it.

I learned I do not have to do things the way that I’ve always done them (sorry, Mama!). In fact, in the area of housework, at this stage of life, I just cannot. Or I will break. Again. (Mama wouldn’t want that, anyway.)

I learned to communicate with my husband so much better. And he learned new ways to show love and care to me, as we share more household chores.

I learned that weighing each item on my to-do list against my spiritual and emotional health and my family’s priorities is helpful. And pretty much, I get done what I can until around 8:30, and then I sit down.

So many days, the laundry is half-way done. The dishes are undone. And dusting, let’s not even go there.

I learned, I am still learning to give myself grace, even if the kids’ laundry has been in baskets for weeks.

I think of it as emotional sandbagging, like a hot air balloon. I have to let things go, preconceived notions, old habits, unreasonable expectations, if I want to fly well.
This is Biblical, too! Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore … let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”
Yes, overt sin will weigh us down. But if other things, things not typically thought of as sin, are keeping me from emotional and spiritual health, those need to be laid aside as well. Parenthood, life is no quick trip. We can’t jump to the end. It is a journey. It is something we must pace ourselves through. We cannot expect convenience and ease at every turn.
But, like the runner, we need endurance. Which means we don’t need unnecessary weight when we run our race.
Are old ways of thinking dragging you down? Are you trapped because of a preconceived notion? Is your mind and emotions burdened because of unrealistic expectations?
What weight does God want you to lay aside, at His feet? What way of thinking could be changed to pave the way for more grace, more faith, more joy, more peace?

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