Cleaning. Laundry. Cooking. Managing Finances.
It’s the throws of adulthood. For many of you reading, not only are you doing all of these things, but you are doing them with babies at your feet, a job to take your attention, or both at the same time.
My household is one where we do not naturally love the process of doing these things. They are passions we have to work for.
I cannot tell you how many times my husband and I have told one another how to do something around the house only to forget or neglect to do that very same thing the next day. We are both prone to lazing around. We are both prone idleness.
About a month ago, I began the journey of working from home. Having had just gotten into my “gone all day” routine, I quickly realized that for some reason, my house was much more easily dirtied when I was living in it more. So while I had more time around my home, I also had more to be consciously aware of.
I furiously began searching “how to” explanations on YouTube. How to enjoy cleaning. How to love serving your household. How to, how to, how to.
I giggled when I ran across a YouTuber who led me to this passage. It is one young women in the church hear often. It is also one that can be easily overlooked. Soak in every word, sister.
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An excellent wife, who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
(Proverbs 31:10–31 ESV)
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Okay so let’s be real. It is easy to read these words and get a little intimidated or offended. Maybe you are not a wife. Maybe you are called to singleness. Maybe you are a full-time-working woman who needs the help of your husband to get anything at all done in your household.
We run to the conclusion that this passage does not apply to us. It cannot possibly be the answer to the friction we feel about running our households well.
Let me tell you why you do not have to be intimidated or offended. Let me tell you how this passage is one of the most empowering pieces of scripture there is.
First, it’s important to know the context of this verse.
- It was written by Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba. It is likely that Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother would recite this poem to her son throughout his life in order to show him what to look for in a wife.
- The second word of verse 10. Excellent. Some translate it as virtuous. The Hebrew word used here was a masculine word used to describe a virtuous soldier. It meant valor. So here, Solomon is describing a woman who has great courage. She is a warrior. A woman with boldness in the face of battles.
So with these things in mind, I need you to know, sisters, that I am writing to you. I am not writing to your husbands or even your future husbands. I am the best wife and my husband is the best husband when I stop worrying about what He is going to do to help me and start doing my part. Focusing on what I am contributing.
Here are some steps to take.
1. Remember that what you are doing is not only for yourself.
If I am being honest, I don’t really care if my floor gets mopped often. I tend to trust my bank statement. I would much rather let the laundry pile high and have one big day of folding.
These are all my feelings. And they can easily lead me to idleness. To neglect mopping, finances, and laundry.
It is only when I consider others that my heart starts to actually desire mopped floors and up-to-date laundry. Y’all I LOVE my husband. I value him. Not for what he can do for me, but for who loved me first (Jesus).
In the same way, I LOVE my future children, though we have never met. I want to get into a habit of keeping my home from being dusty so that their little noses are not stopped. I want to ensure to all of my abilities that they are taken care of financially for as long as they are under our roof.
When we only consider ourselves, we will find all kinds of excuses to put off our responsibilities.
When we begin to dwell on the other souls who inhabit our lives and homes, the excuses dwindle and our “passion for serving” flame is lit.
Let all that you do be a point of ministry.
Once we are considering others in our home, let’s stop thinking of our responsibilities as chores and start thinking of them as part of our ministry.
We tend to compartmentalize each aspect of our lives. Work. School. Home. Church.
Nine times out of ten, we only consider the ministry to be the church part. Everything else is just the mundane.
It is just what we do between Sundays.
Hear me say, oh sister: this is the WORST way we can possibly think about our lives. Everything–and I do mean everything–is part of our ministry. If you are single, you will have people into your home. You will likely bring someone into your life one day. Minister to them. If you are married, fan your flame of love for your spouse by doing his least favorite chore or cooking his most favorite meal. Not because it is something you HAVE to do, but because it is a sweet way to serve the one you have vowed your love to.
Every morning, I wake up to a fresh pot of coffee and a hot mug hand delivered to me (this is sweet because my husband hates coffee). Additionally, I never ever get up in the middle of the night to take our dog out. My husband know that these are the best ways he can serve me. That makes me feel valued. To him, they are just part of what he does. To me, they show me how much he loves me.
That makes me want to do the same thing for Him.
So let’s play the vice-versa game. If I were to feel undervalued in my marriage, my answer should be to make my husband feel valued, get on my knees, and pray that he will desire to do the same thing for me. Lashing out or getting him back by ignoring his laundry for a week might get his attention, but it will not be positive. It will not be life-giving. It will do nothing constructive for our marriage.
Our Biblical obligation is to build our ministry. Responsibilities are a way we can do that. They are a way to bring worth to someone else’s heart. And giving someone else worth will never backfire.
Recognize the little eyes looking to you.
This one is a funny one for me to say because I don’t have kiddos. Yet I cannot look past the idea that King Solomon got this poem from his mother. He saw what she was doing. He heard what she was saying.
You may look at this passage and say, “Oh, that could NEVER be me,” but can you look at this and not desire it for your son (real or theoretical)? Do you not want your child to be blessed with a woman who makes him feel valued? A woman who sees him with the same love you do? A woman who challenges him to virtue?
How about your daughters? Surely we want our daughters to be wives who inspire their children. Who make others feel valued. Who are stronger and wiser than what the world tell them to be.
And for those of us who don’t have children now and may never have them. Little eyes do not have to be you offspring. It could be the neighbor you are sharing the Gospel with. It could be your nieces and nephews, your little sister in Christ. Whoever you are, whatever you do, there are people looking to you.
Stop letting worry be your battle cry.
“She laughs without fear of the future…” is another translation of a verse in this passage.
I need to put this out there: we are not doing these things and doing them well because of what other people will think. We are doing them because of our ministry to the world.
There is a woman in my home town who is known for having girls over to her home to go through scripture together. When these young women enter her household, they are not met with pristinely dusted surfaces. Nope, her three young kids have run about with toys scattered. Dishes may not be done. The counters may not be wiped. But her home is open and she is doing what she can.
She is not frantically cleaning before guests arrive in order to show off her perfect home and perfect kids. Things get messy. Life gets in the way.
I am sure you are beginning to get the point of what I am saying. No part of this journey to enjoying the mundane can be about ourselves. It cannot be about our own happiness, it cannot be about what others will think. It can only be about who and how we are serving.
If serving your neighbor looks like letting the dishes sit so that she can come in and talk about her divorce, let it be so.
If serving your husband looks like doing laundry in your spare time so that he doesn’t have to think about it before work, let it be so.
If serving your kids means putting a little extra effort into dinner so that they will enjoy a healthy meal, let it be so.
Know that your Savior is pleased with you.
Here is what I know.
I know that our Savior served us. I know that He left the comforts of heaven where there is NOTHING is tainted in dirt, where furniture does not need to be built by a carpenter, and where He is the perfect King. I know He came to earth. I know He completed His responsibilities without sorrow for Himself. I know that He walked this world without a roof over His head so that more people could have an eternal home.
He allowed the people made in His image to mock Him. He allowed the world to use Him.
All to serve us.
What better reason can we have other to exemplify His character in every part of our lives?
I am not saying that joy in laundry is going to come immediately. It probably won’t. But it can come. Ask, sister. Ask that God would give you His heart to serve. Ask that He might make you a virtuous woman. Not to gain the attention of any human, but to share the Gospel through your valor to be excellent in every earthly responsibility.
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Thank you so much for joining me again! I would love for you to chime in on this conversation.
Practically speaking, I have to consistently remind myself of why I am doing what I am doing. So turning on worship music or a sermon helps keep me in the right mental state. Here are some other things I do to help myself enjoy the efforts of cleaning
- Buy cleaning products that smell good (I LOVE Mrs. Meyers)
- Look at it as exercise. Any up and moving you can do is better than nothing!
- Get ready. It makes me feel like I am actually going to do something.
I would LOVE to hear yours too!
What are some ways you serve your household?
How have you been able to enjoy doing these things?
What are some practical things you love to do to help?
P.S. To never miss a post, scroll down and put your email in the box! I promise I won’t spam you, just send you future posts 🙂
Originally posted 2018-01-18 13:11:14.