I’ve heard a lot of parents over the years describe different lessons they’ve learned from their own kids, and it’s always neat to hear them. Those moments are humbling and always catch us off guard. I have had several of those moments in the last eight years of motherhood, as well.
My boys are 8, 6, and 2 (Yes. I have three boys.). They each have chores that they are expected to do daily. Well…the toddler doesn’t really have “chores” to do, but I do have him help out with simple tasks like putting the silverware in the drawer (which I then have to sort if he’s feeling particularly rambunctious that day), putting his diapers in the trash, putting his laundry in the basket, etc. These are simple tasks that teach him to own his responsibilities, and he loves feeling involved, important, and independent.
My 8yo, “Big Banana”, has the job of setting the table for all three meals every other day. It’s really super-duper simple but often elicits groans and hunched shoulders and stomping when I call on him/brother to do this chore. On this particular day he decided that while I was cleaning up the evening’s dishes, he would set up the table for the next morning. I loved that idea, because once upon a time before I had kids I also had a brain that appreciated being proactive and doing things ahead of when they were necessary. Now I just have a brain that seems to be slowly leaking out of my ears. The sweet part of what he did was in the way that he took it several steps further. He refolded our rectangle napkins into triangles and the place settings were complete with cups and all three pieces of silverware. He set the salt and pepper on either side of our vase of flowers as well. What caught me off guard was his attitude while he set the table: he had absolute joy and pleasure in doing his job. He didn’t complain about having to set the napkins and utensils out. He wasn’t content to just set the table. No, he delighted in doing his job with excellence and beauty.
As I bemoaned washing the knives and sippie cup straws and other items that cannot go into the dishwasher, my son was humbly and joyfully taking care of a separate mundane task. I was instantly convicted and wondered to myself Is it possible to do all of my daily work with a cheerful heart? Isn’t everything that I do supposed to be to the glory of God? Am I glorifying God if I go from task to task with moaning, hunched shoulders, and stomping (even if only in my heart)?
So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all things for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31
I’ve been thinking about Big Banana’s attitude since that night. Obviously I don’t always put into action what I’ve learned, but I’m working on it. I’m thankful for the Lord giving me that display of cheerful obedience through my son. He wanted to make it beautiful so that others would enjoy something lovely. It’s not easy to find joy in the mundane–you know, changing diapers, washing endless loads of laundry, taking an hour to cook a meal that takes all of 5 minutes to eat, etc. The tasks go on and on and on… Honoring the Lord in all that I do is difficult, but I want to get better at it. He designed me to work, whether inside the home or outside of it, and I want to learn to enjoy my work. May I serve my family, my community, my God with a cheerful heart even when I set the table or wash the dishes again.