This past Sunday was cleaning day in our house. I know, I know, day of rest and all that. But I have children, and they need to learn life, and life includes cleaning, and I have lived with enough people who never were taught or expected to clean up after themselves to know that children need to be taught to clean up after themselves. Because living with adults who don’t clean up after themselves is totally disgusting. So, even though I am at home all week while everyone else is gone and my role as Stay At Home Mom traditionally includes the task of cleaning the whole house of everyone else’s filth, I say SCREW THAT. We were away on Saturday, so Sunday won cleaning day this weekend.
And there was resistance. From all parties involved.
The opposition came in many forms. Eye-rolling, disgusted tsk-ing and complaints of “But I just wanted to watch the game today!” and “I’m tired!” and “But I have homework!” One family member snuck up to her room, plugged in, and pretended not to hear the proclamation of Cleaning Day.
Nobody wanted to clean today. Including me.
I dug in my heels and appealed to the only side I could, the practical one. If we all work for an hour and a half, we can clean this house from top to bottom. I didn’t want to clean either, but I sure didn’t want to save the job for myself for later, where it would take me half a day or more. Many hands make light work: isn’t that one of the biggest truths of the universe?
We worked, and in an hour and ten minutes, our house was sparkling clean. And we all felt good about that, and we still had the rest of the day to watch the game, do homework, take a nap, and rest on Sunday.
“I don’t want to” is a refrain that takes many forms. Complaining about it, saying we don’t have time, being physically unable, hiding behind other responsibilities; when there is a job to do and we don’t want to do it, we become very creative in avoiding it.
I know this because I have an arsenal of avoidance tactics that are custom-built for nearly any situation.
Everyone is different. Some people are natural do-gooders who find themselves burned out on good deeds and helping, helping, helping. They spread themselves too thin and avoid taking care of their health, their families, their own needs because they want to help others. These yes people may struggle to find a balance between caring for others and caring for themselves.
Others are hermits and create work for themselves so that they don’t have to help anyone. They fill their days with their own tasks and say that they don’t have time or resources to help others, that caring for themselves or their family is enough work for them to do. They say no to nearly every request to help, and operate in their own world, where they don’t have to bother with unknown variables that might surface when helping others.
Even though the do-gooder types might get more recognition for serving, neither one of these types of people does any good in the long run. Sure, either kind of person can say they are helping, whether their own families or others, but doing all of one and not the other is not ideal. And they suffer.
We are made to be social, to help others, to love each other through actions, to serve. God created us to be in communion with him and each other. Jesus showed us what it means to serve. Paul showed us to go outside our comfort zone to serve and grow our faith. That may look like spending more time at home with our families or going out into the world.
When we are called by God to do something, it is usually to serve, to help, to give of ourselves for his Kingdom. Serving takes many forms. Though we don’t have to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations to serve, we are asked to serve regularly in some capacity, whether it is to encourage someone in a new venture, pick up a friend from the airport, minister to the homeless, to bring the gospel to a foreign place.
Or maybe even to teach children the responsibility of cleaning their home.
We all are part of God’s Kingdom, and we all have tasks. We are not expected to do all the tasks ourselves, nor are we expected to let others do all of them. They might not ones that we particularly enjoy doing, and we might resist them at first, but when we serve, we bless others. And in turn, God blesses us.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:1-11 (NIV)