It’s not that I don’t love a beautiful table.
Really I do. I have white dishes just so I can create a table setting for any season just by adding colorful napkins and a centerpiece. (I’m practical that way.) It is a joy for me to put together the pieces, adding a touch of Pinterest and my own personality in the creative process. There’s a certain pride that comes in seeing the final product and knowing that your effort speaks volumes.
Creating a comfortable place for my family to gather says “welcome home”. My meager efforts to make these moments special may not be remembered, but as I pray for each one that we are blessed to have around the table, I also pray that they will always remember that they are loved.
Sometimes the things that we value, or that we cherish, can easily be just that–things–instead of moments. If I put too much emphasis on the plans and preparations for a meal, then I might forget who it is that I’m doing it for or get easily frustrated if things don’t turn out like I’d planned.
If I am more concerned about a clean house than I am about a snotty-nosed grandchild or the smallest of handprints on the glass, I will miss out on something much more valuable.
A bit of heaven-on-earth for me is when our crew is all together at once. It is a crazy, loud, fun place to be with crawling babies to step over, bikes and scooters scattered over the yard, kids stuck in trees and sports blaring on the T.V.
And I love every minute.
Until… time for the dishes.
Even as a young girl one of my chores was to do the dishes. I would fuss or try to escape to the bathroom in order to avoid them like the plague. A tomboy, it seemed completely unfair that the boys could run out and play while I had to stay behind and help in the kitchen. Yes, we all had to pick up our own plates and help put away, but being the oldest daughter I was left to wash and/or dry. It was like I was being punished for being a girl.
Only I wasn’t–and looking back, I am thankful.
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1: 2
Don’t laugh! I know dishes are not a trial, but let me explain why I’m thankful. I know that my parents loved me. I know that the “chores” they had me do were to prepare me for adulthood. My role as a woman has been clearly defined as different from a man since Adam and Eve. While some modern women may disagree, I saw this training ground as preparation for learning the responsibilities of being in a family and keeping a home.
Do I still hate doing dishes? Some days. Mostly because I feel stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is off enjoying their time together. On those days I just decide that those dishes can wait, while the moments we have together as a family can’t.
Can men help in the task of doing dishes? Of course. The real issue here is not a gender role dispute. It is choosing to be grateful in the midst of the chaos or while performing mundane tasks.
Seeing the great blessing of a big family and lots of dishes to wash, I can focus on the chore or on the blessings behind it. God allows us to see the world from His perspective if we will just keep our eyes on Him. He is the giver of all good things, and though I don’t deserve even one, He fills my life with more than I can count.
Though I’m going to try.
“Happy are the people with such blessings. Happy are the people whose God is the Lord.” Psalm 144:15