“If only I didn’t have to [cook, do dishes, sweep, dust, do laundry, go to the grocery store, etc., etc. etc.], I could get something meaningful done.”
Have you ever thought something like that? Or said it out loud?
Life is full of necessary but mundane tasks.
And whatever we do today likely has to be done again in a few days, if not tomorrow.
I was struck recently by how often I have to refill things: the salt shaker, the tea pitcher, the napkin holder, the toothpick holder, the paper towel and toilet paper holders, the pantry, the refrigerator, the dishwasher, the clothes washer and dryer, the toiletry closet.
When we want to write or participate in some kind of ministry, it’s hard to make time without leaving something else undone.
Yet when I look at the “virtuous woman” of Proverbs 31, most of her day revolved around what would have been everyday tasks of her time: sewing for herself, her family, and her home (no department stores or online ordering in those days), cooking, seeking food “from afar,” buying a field, planting, working “willingly with her hands” late at night and early in the morning, making items to sell to supplement her family’s income. “She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” She fears the Lord. “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.” She does all of this with strength, kindness, faith, wisdom and dignity.
A couple of blog friends remind me of this lady. Sadly, they are no longer blogging. But they used to write about their everyday activities in their homes: house projects, gardening and canning, sewing, cooking, etc. They didn’t write devotionals or Bible lessons, but they shared observations in passing about God’s dealings with their lives. Their spirit shone through even in the “homey” activities. They brought a “sense of Him” in everything they did, not just the “spiritual” activities.
The one lady I count as my main mentor was the same way. We never studied through a book together. She never sat me across the table for a lesson. There is nothing wrong with those things. But she taught me plenty by how she managed her home (which she graciously invited me to) and conducted her life. She may have said a few things on purpose as a means of guidance or instruction, but if she did, they were so mild and gentle that I didn’t know I was being “taught.”
When my kids were younger, I regretted that I didn’t have more time for just playing with them. Oh, we played. We’d make Lego creations, read tons of books, go to the park, throw a blanket over the kitchen table and picnic underneath. But I felt guilty because it seemed like I never spent “enough” one-on-one time with them.
Then I thought about this Proverbs 31 lady, or Ma Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie. Laura Ingalls Wilder writes of times that her mother played with her children, and I am sure the Proverbs 31 lady played with hers as well. But they didn’t spend all day at it. They didn’t just play together: they worked together. And Mother passed on to children characteristics they would need not only by direct teaching, but by example.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do”—ordinary, everyday activities—“do it all to the glory of God.”
Of course, we have to be careful not to be like Martha, so busy that we neglect what Jesus called the one needful thing of spending time with Him.
And It’s fine to seek ways to do our work as efficiently as possible so we do have time for other activities. If God opens the door for writing, speaking, organizing gatherings, or whatever, great!
But we can glorify God and minister to others in those everyday activities as well.
For those of you reading this on Mother’s Day, I hope you have a happy day honoring your Mom. If, like me, your mom is no longer living, I hope you have sweet memories.
For those who are moms, I hope your family gives you some relief from those everyday duties and pampers you today.
I realize that though this day is joyous for some, it’s painful for others—those who did not have a good relationship with their moms, who have lost children, who don’t have children but long to. My heart goes out to you, and I pray God will specially minister to your heart today.
(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)