Many times, I’ve stood at the sink elbow deep in hot water and dirty dishes when small fingers tap on my calf and tells me there are no more dry pants in his drawer. Simultaneously, my ears alert me to some fresh conflict spinning out of control in the other room, and I think to myself, How could I ever offer something meaningful to the kingdom of God? I love Jesus, but all my time and energy seems to disappear into these little people and the chaos they create.
In my version of motherhood, everything I get done shortly becomes undone. Everything I clean will become messy. Every discussion about why a little brother has the right to be alive and live in our house will be completely forgotten in the next few minutes. In other words, motherhood magnifies the futility of my life. And sometimes, life becomes repetitive to the point of madness.
I’ve read about Brother Lawrence and his book Practicing the Presence of God. Because of him, I know I can do the dishes for the glory of God. But sometimes I feel like what I’m offering God is pretty insignificant. My heart is often whispering, “I could do better than dishes.”
Hearing the Truth
One afternoon, I listened to a sermon online. The pastor talked about going into work with the aim of being Christ-like. He explained how Jesus constantly brought order to disorder, be it internal or external. Jesus spoke life and order into those around Him. So through doing simple acts like encouraging others, accomplishing every task with excellence, or turning chaos into order in your workplace, you are emulating Christ and therefore living a meaningful life.
When I heard his message, something in me clicked. Who has a better chance bring order to a physical space than a mom? Nobody. I’m literally bringing order to my house on a moment by moment basis. The same goes for restoring relationships of my kids and making peace between them. I’m doing it all of the time. Every time I bake bread, make dinner, or break up a fight, God is handing me an opportunity to physically bring order to chaos and speak peace to the storm.
Suddenly, my insignificant offering didn’t seem so insignificant. It seemed robust, meaningful, and challenging. The next time I found myself elbow deep in dishes and hot water, I didn’t see it as demoralizing. Instead, I saw it as a privilege.
Finding My Purpose
Even mundane tasks like setting the table became a joy to me. My kids revolve around the table while they’re home, and setting it restored the house to order for them. And instead of seeing the next conversation about how to treat siblings as a repetitive nuisance, I realized my words restored order to my kids’ chaotic patterns of thinking. Though my words may have gone in one ear and out the other, intentional conversations with my kids aren’t futile. They are life-giving and powerful.
To an outsider, it probably looks like nothing has changed. I’m still mom, still getting up well before dawn, cooking, cleaning, and managing. Yet everything has changed. Now, a normal day as a mom has inherent meaning and value, rather than the aura of futility. Now I’m an agent of Christ’s creative and restorative power within my home.
The act of restoring order to my messy house, making peace between my kids, and instilling wisdom into their lives is the work of Jesus. I’m paving a way for them to grow and learn to know Him for themselves. I am hard-wiring them to love Jesus and serve others when they’re adults.
The work I do now will affect their future friendships, careers, and marriages. I hope my children will grow up and sacrifice themselves for others like Jesus did for me. If they do, my 4 kids can spread the love of Jesus 4x faster than I could on my own. So, it turns out, my heart is wrong. I can’t do better than dishes. I can’t do better than what I’m called to do right now.