I almost didn’t share this post. I thought maybe it’s too real — too honest. And then I thought maybe I’m exaggerating the state of my house and of my mind that Sunday evening a few weeks ago. And then, of course, I was tempted to think what can I say that hasn’t been said before?
And so this post has been sitting neglected in my drafts.
And then these words jumped out at me (on my Facebook feed of all places),
When we’re addicted to online life, every moment is fun and diverting, but the whole thing is profoundly unsatisfying.
This quote, taken from a NY Times article addressing the impact social media has on relationships, was what I needed to help me overcome my hesitations in sharing this post in hope of providing some encouragement to my fellow moms.
So here goes…
I looked around at the messy kitchen in frustration. The counters were cluttered with dishes, art supplies, and a fifty-pound bag of whole wheat flour that should have been put in the freezer days ago.
The floor needed sweeping (again!).
And it wasn’t just the kitchen. My bathroom that hadn’t been cleaned properly in weeks hung over my head. And supper needed to be fixed yet for my husband and four hungry boys and little girl.
I felt so behind, and worse, I felt so unmotivated to do anything about it.
After a rather uninspired supper, I sat down with the Clarksons’ recent book on homemaking feeling like I would find some inspiration within its pages. I was right. The book fell open to the chapter on social media. I was first of all convicted about how too much Facebook time had led to the “the restless mental absence” I had been guilty of in relation to my home and family.
But with the conviction came something else- fresh hope and inspiration. Sarah Clarkson’s grand portrayal of the powerful kingdom endeavor our homemaking is lifted my sagging spirits. She wrote,
Homemaking requires a willed creativity, a conscious diligence, because we are called to create new life and challenged to do it in the midst of a world that actively resists us in this endeavor.
Reading these words, I realized homemaking is not a necessary evil. Neither are we meant to scrape by with the bare minimum as I had been trying to do.
Rather we should be working to make our home a place where God’s love can be shown, first of all, to our family and then to those who enter our home.
All of a sudden cleaning the kitchen was no longer a menial task (made worse by the fact that it would have to be done again at the next meal), but an effort to make my home a relaxing place for my family where they could experience God’s love and peace.
The next meal was not just to keep my family from starving, but to nourish their souls as well as their stomachs.
And maybe it’s my competitive nature coming through, but the thought of the world resisting me in this pursuit of homemaking for God’s glory made me determined to fight back (after all, who likes to lose?).
The next morning I woke up with two new resolves.
- Not to check Facebook nearly as often. (I didn’t make any rules, except I decided to wait until after breakfast, and then just check it a whole lot less. Sarah Clarkson writes in her book how she completely stepped away from Facebook and what a difference that made in her life, but since I have a lot of family on it, I’m not ready to do that yet.)
- To keep a kingdom focus as I worked on making our home a place that would be a restful place full of God’s love and life.
And with these two simple resolutions, I was able to accomplish much more than I imagined. The counters were cleaned, the floor swept, the fifty pounds of flour was put away and the pantry was even organized. The bathroom was cleaned and the floor washed. The living room was tidied and vacuumed.
I even managed to make a large batch of our favorite dinner rolls.
And this was on top of devoting a lot of the day to helping my son study for the National Bible Bee and taking care of the toddler. I did have some help from my two younger sons, so I didn’t do it all on my own, but I’ve found that they’re not motivated when I’m not.
Now, I’ll admit since that day, I haven’t always made the right choices (and I hesitated sharing this post for that reason), but I have a new perspective on homemaking. More and more when I have an extra five or ten minutes I ask myself,
What can I do with this little bit of time to make my home a more pleasant place for my husband and children?
What can I do to serve those in my home?
After all, motherhood and homemaking are largely about service. Christ himself is our perfect example in this. On His last night here on earth, He gave us an example of service by washing his disciples’ feet. And then he said, “Happy are ye if ye do these things.” And I’ve found it to be true. Serving others brings happiness in my life.
Maybe not right at the moment, but I’ve found if I do the next thing that needs to be done instead of spending that five minutes (that usually turns into much more!) on Facebook, I feel much more peaceful and content. After all, what will we choose, the fun and diverting or the profoundly satisfying?
I encourage all you moms out there who feel overwhelmed and discouraged to give it a try. You’ll be surprised how much housework you can get done in five-minute snatches you might have previously used to check Facebook (or insert any other distraction here). You can empty the dish drying rack, or sweep the kitchen. You can put in a load of laundry or put part of a load away. You can straighten the bedroom or clean the bathroom counter. You can even make a serious dent in that pile of dishes sitting in the kitchen.
Or maybe instead you can sit down and read a book to your toddler. Or really listen to your teenager.
Or maybe just close your eyes and pray,
Lord, I need You, oh I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
Because we do need him in this work of parenting and home-making we are called to do.
Read my full review on The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Becoming and Belonging.