I never thought I’d write that. Housekeeping, to me, has never been a gift. The first time I mopped a floor was in college and to this day, it’s my least favorite chore. Laundry and dishes have to get done in order to eat and wear something not pulled out of the hamper, but the other stuff has been easy to push aside.
For the past 17 years of marriage, I’ve struggled with the responsibility, the chore, and the image of the wife I wanted to be because I wanted to be a good one, a fairy tale one, a woman who cooks the perfect dinners and keeps the house spotless, but I’m not. It’s easy to compare myself with others, see their flawless homes and feel as if I don’t measure up. It’s too easy to feel like a failure (but God doesn’t make failures, does He?).
In the nine homes we’ve had together, I cleaned out of obligation, necessity, and guilt.
No wonder I hated it. Typing those words, I’m wondering if one could find joy in anything done out of obligation, necessity, and guilt.
Today I had a lengthy conversation with God on the way home from dropping my kids off at church. I’m approaching another birthday, and, like most years, am frustrated at my lack of direction, so I’m pestering God about it. I believe in God-given gifts and God-directed purpose, but I also know that I can’t figure out mine unless I pray and listen.
So I prayed and asked a million different things, but among them I asked for direction and purpose. I asked that I will be the mom that God wants me to be, the wife He wants me to be, and that if there’s some other purpose out there that He’ll show me (preferably with a neon sign and a big heavy rock).
The prayer ended as I rounded the corner and drove up my driveway. I came in, let the dog out, and stood near the kitchen. The dishwasher was empty and waiting. Dishes filled the sink. No one was home. I could use this period of quiet for anything. For me time. For the pure luxury of silence and solitude.
But I thought of my husband and realized that a clean kitchen is a gift that I can give to him. (To me, this was a lightening bolt sort of moment.)
Though I’ve stood at that sink countless times before, today I stood there remarkably peaceful, with a perceptible smile on my face and a feeling of joy because it wasn’t an obligation and I wasn’t doing it out of guilt, but as a gift.
To my husband, a gift. To my children, an example. For myself, a lesson, hopefully learned well.
I don’t anticipate morphing into some white-gloved Wonder Woman of the housekeeping world, but I know that with God as my focus and the attitude of service as a gift to those I love, that the mundane, “necessary” tasks will become joyous. With loud music to sing to and a heart focused on being the woman I’ve been created to be, I’m challenging myself now to a housekeeping schedule done joyfully.