Walking into the kitchen this morning, I came across a crumpled paper laying on the floor. It was a rejected picture from one of the children, clearly meant for the trash can, yet falling short of the desired target.
There it sat, 16 inches from it’s intended destination. And the struggle in my mind arose:
- Should I pick it up?
- Should I call the children to get it?
- Should I walk past and ignore it?
- Or walk past and know it will be dealt with when we sweep after breakfast?
It’s common really, those questions we ask ourselves. And if I’m being honest, I ask them all throughout the day. And on and on the internal conflict goes.
Why the struggle?
Those types of mental battles are typically present when other things lead up to the experience above. Picking up several other random items that aren’t yours, then finding said crumpled paper can be enough to trigger a bit of discouragement or even be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Without making that pivotal decision to bend down, grab the paper and toss it in the garbage, a woman may begin to question the motives of her own family. Additionally, her thoughts may also wander past that into unhealthy territory:
- Couldn’t the children make sure to get their trash in the garbage can?
- 3 other kids have walked past it, why didn’t they notice?
- Don’t they appreciate a clean home?
- Do I have to do everything around here myself!?
Not Making a Home and Breeding Burnout
Those are the questions that fuel the fire of irritation, discontent, anger, then apathy. A mother becomes irritated at the imagined lack of concern the family has for the time she spends in housekeeping, and for their own neglect of the home.
If not nipped in the bud, irritation gives way to discontent and the thoughts above. She begins to feel unappreciated and used, overworked and undervalued. This discontentment leads to anger if not dealt with quickly.
Once angry, a wife begins to find fault with the family. Leaving a dirty dish on the table or shoes and jacket laying by the front door become the ultimate offenses. The little things children do are suddenly cardinal sins. And a hard-working husband who comes home 15 minutes late without “the decency” to call to let her know is thought of as inconsiderate, selfish, rude.
She is always on edge and ready to snap at anything that gets under her skin, which of course, usually is just about anything and everything.
When and if the anger subsides, she is left with apathy. This is the “who cares” attitude. It’s the wife that looks at homemaking and says: “I don’t feel like it.” This homemaker is void of all joy. She’s not making a home, she’s just doing tasks that she doesn’t care for and begins to let things slide.
What Needs To Happen
If you see yourself in this situation above you have work to do. The beginning details of your story may differ, but if this is where you are today, again, something needs to be done about it. The Bible does speak to this issue in Ephesians 5:15
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time…
This is comparable to the “Straighten up and fly right” mantra which basically means to know what you are supposed to be doing and just do it.
The LORD isn’t a warm fuzzies kind of God and who looks down on His female creation and thinks to Himself: “Look at how she picked up after her family yet again. Poor thing. The family ought to be more understanding.”
Quite the opposite in fact. In light of Scripture, His thoughts (which aren’t like our thoughts) would be more along the lines of: “She needs to be more consistent with training her children and not think so highly of herself.”
Once we get past our feelings and decide to do what is right, (whether we like it or not) there are a few things that can help us repent and bring the joy back to our lives as wives and homemakers.
Making It Right
First we need to go to Scripture and see what our God given (and expected) role is within the home as a wife and mother. See this post to learn what God’s Word says a homemaker is.
Second, we must reject the notion that we need to find joy in our tasks (initially and as a prerequisite) before actually beginning. All throughout the Bible the LORD requires faithful obedience. Our feelings about the matter are irrelevant. Think of Abraham and Isaac. Think of God’s comment about obedience being better than sacrifice, etc. (Side note: obedience produces joy).
This goes hand in hand with rejecting the sister-notion which suggests we are exempt from our duties on those days we lack motivation. This is nonsense. Waiting to feel motivated before we load the dishwasher, speak kind words to our husband, train our children or any other number of tasks related to the Christian homemaker is plain and simple nonsense.
Please don’t entertain that idea, it sets one up for discouragement and overwhelm. Remember Jesus said His yoke was easy, and burden light. These good works He has prepared you for from before the beginning of time are for your good, and to give you hope. They are not burdensome. We must remember these truths. Truth is motivation enough. Being obedient to God’s commands is motivation enough. We need nothing on top of that.
Third, train your children. Even a 2 year old can pick up a paper when she drops it a few inches shy of the trash can. It is a requirement for the Christian mother to properly train her children with God’s grace.
Much has been written about this subject, but quite simply, training children requires patience, love and consistency. Those 3 ingredients will go far as you seek to do this job well.
Lastly, we need to excuse the excuses. Oh my but don’t we have a laundry basket full of excuses when it comes to why we can’t keep our homes clean, get dinner on the table on time, or respect and submit to our husbands? What a dangerous web we weave when we allow these excuses to lead us to sinful behavior.
True, we are tempted many times throughout the day, but as children of the LORD we are also called to flee temptation, behave properly and continue in good works. Propriety isn’t just a suggestion or an option. It also isn’t a stifling command. It is to be coupled with faith, but it is necessary.
Remember that we show our faith by our works and that faith without works is dead. They are complimentary. Believe God’s Word and act appropriately. This is our reasonable service.
Your desire is to make a home, or at least it should be. Many of us go through seasons of feeling like homemaking doesn’t matter, nobody cares and having a lack of joy about the whole thing. This post is to hopefully point out some potential seeds that lead to a lack of joy. If you are in the “I don’t have joy, but I want to” boat, please spend some time in prayer, learn your Biblical role and just start doing and seeing the simple beauty in it. The joy will come.
If, on the other hand, you’re in the “I don’t have joy as a homemaker and I don’t care whether I ever will or not” boat, my suggestion is the same as the woman above, plus pray some more. I’m no “professional” and probably can’t speak to deep, dark depression, but… the LORD heals. Continue to pray, continue to do what is good and right in your home. Look to the One that gave you these good works to complete. Be thankful. Read Psalms, lots of Psalms. Every day. And ignore the lies that say you’re wasting your time at home. It’s simply not true.
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