I have been reading Elizabeth George’s book Beautiful in God’s Eyes which is about the Proverbs 31 woman. I am a little over half way through the book and a constant thread woven through the pages is joy:
Finding joy in the Lord.
Finding joy serving our families.
Finding joy in the most menial of tasks.
I realize my next statement will not include everyone, but I think for many, if not most, women it can be counted as true:
The home is our responsiblity. To care for. To manage. To set the tone for.
Whether we like it or not, whether we think that’s how it should be or not, whether we chose it for ourselves or even had a choice, for many women this is the case. Single, married, mama or not, the home and its needs tend to fall to us. For me, that can be frustrating. The repetition bores me. I have been a working mom and I have been a stay at home mama and I can tell you this - the routine doesn’t change. You still do things on Tuesday that you will turn around and do on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday. Single or married, you will still pick up dirty clothes, clean the kitchen, vacuum, clean the bathroom and mop.
When you view those as chores, as work laid upon you, as yokes to bear, they can steal your joy.
When you feel like nobody notices, your joy can get lost in the mix of pleas from your sinful nature to have your deeds recognized.
Anyone else ever give the “I DO EVERYTHING” speech to your family? Oh please tell me a least one of you has…….
But it doesn’t have to.
Reading through this book, what I have discovered is that my focus needed to shift. I needed to re-wire my brain and the way I thought about housework and meal planning and bookkeeping. To view them no longer as chores but God-given responsibilities:
Responsibilities to be treated as though they were to Him.
Responsibilities intended to bless my family and those we interact with.
Responsibilites designed to satisfy and bless me.
In the past (and that means like up till about 3 weeks ago), I didn’t take pleasure in cleaning up the kitchen every night, but I always enjoyed getting up to a clean kitchen. I didn’t want to be diligent in meal planning, but the weeks I did I enjoyed a decrease in my stress level. I wasn’t chomping at the bit to get laundry done, but I was happy when I saw empty baskets. I was striving in my own flesh to provide for humans who sometimes forgot to say thank you. I was joyless.
But I didn’t have to be.
The Lord has shown me over the last 3 weeks, that in His strength, I can choose to joyfully be the keeper of my home. I can choose to joyfully handle that dishwasher every night when I see it as an act of service to both my God and my family. I can choose to joyfully fold those clothes, even if they are just mine, and put them away. I choose the tone set in this home. I choose if it is one of joy and order or one of chaos and stress. I can choose that. Just in case you doubt it, just think of some time when you were in a mood. How did the house run then? How many friends did you have lining up to come hang out with you. Like it or not, we set the tone, gals. Even in the worst of times, we set the tone.
Let’s get real honest here, some days it is a definite choice. The flesh that cries for public applause can only got unnoticed for so long; then it starts showing out a bit. You and I have to choose to die to it daily and submit to God’s will for our lives. Joy is to be found there.
Someone is thinking, well, she just does everything and her family must do nothing. I am not about to be a maid for my husband and kids (or parents or whomever you live with). How do I know you thought that? I did to. You know what that tells me? We need to shift our focus. We need to stop viewing our responsibilities as things done to please and pamper man, but as things done to please and honor God. Let us not forget the management of our home is often ours as well. Often times, for me, when I end up doing everything, it’s because I have not managed my kids responsibilities well. I can choose differently.
Ladies, the care of the home is a great responsiblity, no doubt. The hours can be long, the earthly pay small, but what an awesome honor it is. The God of the universe has set you inside that home, inside that dorm room, inside that one-bedroom apartment, to care for it and those who come through it. You, dear one, are esteemed highly enough to be the one to carry God’s plan for that home in your hands. Maybe your clean dorm room is a sanctuary for someone with an out of control roommate. Maybe the order of your house is the only stability the neighbor kid sees because her house, and family, is a wreck. Perhaps the joy you choose to walk in doing those most trivial of tasks ministers to the single mama or daddy just trying to hang on. Choosing joy has no doubt set a better tone for my house overall. It hasn’t been perfect, but it has been better.
My encouragement to you - choose joy this week. Be you a single girl living in a apartment - choose joy. Be you a married woman – choose joy. Be you a mama – choose joy.
In the mundane, trivial tasks set before you – choose joy. Start at home and watch it carry over to other areas of your life.
Joy is there for you.
Jesus is there for you.
May your joy be found in Him.
Acts 2:28 (NKJV)
You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of joy in Your presence.