Compassion and a Kick in the Butt

I don’t know about you, but sometimes the daily grind really gets me down.  There are many days when the words "housewife" and "futility" seem synonymous. 

The other night, I came downstairs to prepare dinner and found the playroom that I had painstakingly organized earlier that day once again strewn with toys and clutter, the kitchen covered in dirty dishes and crayons and papers and mail, and the family room floor covered with DVDs and pop beads.  I didn’t dare look at the laundry room.

I felt overwhelmed and hopeless.  I didn’t even know where to begin restoring order, so I did a very mature thing — I lay down on the couch in fetal position, put my arms over my head, and played dead.

It didn’t take long for the troops to find me.  Next time I’ll have to remember to play dead in a dark closet somewhere.

Naturally, my husband wanted to know why I was lying on the couch in such a state.  Too overwhelmed to put my feelings into words, I said nothing.  Which, as I’m sure you can imagine, was nothing short of aggravating to my bewildered husband.

Finally I moaned that it was all too much and I was so sick and tired of cleaning up the same messes over and over and over and that I couldn’t do it one more time.

Now this is where someone should have taken a steel-toed boot and kicked me into next week, but fortunately my dear husband tends to favor a more subtle approach.  He left me to wallow in self-pity and started loading the dishwasher.

In retrospect, this was quite a clever tactic.  I couldn’t very well lie there while he worked, so I hauled myself off the couch and begrudgingly tackled the clutter.  In a matter of 30 minutes we had the house in shape, and I felt like I had a new lease on life.  I started dinner with renewed energy for the task at hand.

I’m not proud to recount this event, and I wish I could tell you that it was the first time it has happened, but I can’t.  And while I don’t always curl up in a ball when I feel that way, I do spend more time than I care to admit grumbling about the futility of my job.

I am well aware that this is the height of self-indulgence and ingratitude.  Here I am in a beautiful house with three healthy, happy children and a
husband who cherishes me, and I have the audacity to complain about cleaning up the same toys, the same dishes, the same papers day after day.  I hate my sin and have repented of it many times, but discontentment has a way of sneaking in and grabbing me by the jugular. 

But never have I felt so convicted of my selfishness as I did yesterday when I read the story of Annette, a woman living in a one-room home with her five children in Africa.  She supports her family by selling fried plantains to passersby.  One of her children is named C, by the way, the name of one of my own precious children, which makes her story even more heart-wrenching to see.  It is not news to me that people live that way, but to put names and faces with those stories is dreadfully sobering.

Lately I’ve been feeling increasingly convicted about how vain and frivolous my life is, and likewise, how clueless my children are to the charmed life they lead.  I’ve been wanting to do something to give back and to help my kids see beyond their sheltered existence, but I didn’t know how.  I think this is the answer I’ve been looking for.

Tonight I plan to sit down with my children and allow them to take a look at these precious faces and choose one.  I want them to be involved.  They can help write letters and send pictures, perhaps they can do extra chores to earn money to contribute as well, and they can pray.  I know that $32 a month is a very small token of all that we’ve been given, but it’s somewhere to start.

This afternoon as I did another load of dishes and scooped up those
blasted pop beads and returned them to their container for the
umpteenth time this week, I sent a silent thanks heavenward for the
privilege of doing one more "futile" task in my comfortable home to the
glory of God.

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26 Responses

  1. No, Lawanda, I really don’t. But you’re a sweetie.

    Jenn – I did World Vision when I was in college. I eventually had to stop b/c I couldn’t control my spending. 🙁 I am hoping to do better this time.

  2. This really hits home to me. Thank you for putting it in perspective. We have talked many times of doing the same type of thing through World Vision or something similar. I don’t know what I’m waiting for……..
    “charmed life” – it’s so true – just how spoiled we all are. Thank you again for posting this just when I need to realize such a thing.

  3. Compassion is a great organization. I have written about it before (my SIL worked there) and we support two children.

    The same kind of thing happens to me sometimes. My husband is always happy to help out, and I tell him that his 30 minutes of helping saves us a lot of money for counseling sessions. So although your conclusion about leading a charmed life may be true, it’s not a bad thing to have some help with the mundane things in life either.

  4. We’ve been sponsoring a child through Compassion for five years and she has shown us the grace of God. We are truly blessed beyond words. Thank you for reminding me of that again today.

  5. Great Post. Thanks for writing it. I deal with this off and on more than I like to admit. The house is never done. And I like things to be DONE! I look forward to seeing how your kids react to sponsoring a needy child.

  6. I sat down last night and choose a little boy from Compassion. He is my son’s age and has the biggest, brownest eyes. It was instant love and although it is suppose to be a blessing for him – I went to bed last night feeling more blessed than a person should be allowed. Our little boy has his own family – his own mom and dad – but as I laid my head down last night – I included him in the same prayer I say for my own children every night – “Lord, please keep them safe and healthy – and by all means in spite of what I might do or say – please help them turn out okay anyway”. It will definitely be a special evening for your family.

  7. This is a great post. These Uganda bloggers are rockin my world.

    I’ve met both children I sponsor through Compassion and I can tell you without a doubt, its making a difference.

  8. Oh girl, do I identify and am sitting at the computer right now only because I looked around at the piles of mess and came here to escape. Thank you for your honesty and inspiring me to get up and tackle things around here. If Annette can keep a dirt-floored shack clean with 5 kids underfoot, and do it with a smile, surely I can pull it together in a house with only 3 kids and more blessings than I’ll ever deserve.

  9. We all get overwhelmed sometimes. You are allowed to take a break and regroup as long as it doesn’t become an all day affair. We adopted a child through World Vision in December and have already gotten a letter telling us all about her and her family. It was so hard to choose just one child.

  10. I sponsored a child in Peru through Compassion Canada last year, and it’s such a joy to get letters from her. I hope I can keep supporting her for many years to come. She wants to become a teacher when she grows up, and I hope I can help her achieve that. I love reading your blog, by the way! I’ll try to comment more and lurk less! 🙂

  11. I totally, completely identify with everything you have said in this. It’s my constant struggle, one that I have repented of so many times, only to find myself complaining and wallowing in discontent AGAIN.

    Thank you for sharing this way to create some change in the world.

  12. I think that the majority of us can identify with this story more than you think. I think it’s great to have this renewed focus as well. But please know that it is also ok to have the time to say I need a break. It’s an honor to God to ask for his guidance and help………even the break from the chaos.

  13. I’m going to wreck the seriousness of this post by giving a huge AMEN to the pop bead torture! Never have I regretted winning something so much.

    I can relate to how you felt, and how you feel. It is important to have perspective and to remember how blessed we truly are. It is also important, though, to remember that the crosses we are given, however small and insignificant they may seem, are still ours and they do cause us some discomfort or “suffering.” I know having to clean up the same messes, etc. , does not compare to the extreme poverty you refer to, but for me, it is still what draws my attention to my own sinfulness and how to get out of it.

    I’m so tired that I don’t think that made sense, but oh well.

  14. We sponsor 2 kids through Compassion in Ecuador, and have for 8 years. Good for you!! You won’t regret it!
    It is SUCH a blessing! I get so giddy when I see one of their letters in the mailbox. :o)
    When we lived in England, and did a lot of travelling, I decided to send them bi-lingual “scrapbook” pages from each of our adventures. I put them on A4 paper and into A4 sized plastic sleeves, so if they could get a binder, they could start their own album. I would hide the story or caption underneath the picture so that I could maximize the paper space, and had a friend translate for me so they got both the English and the Spanish caption. The kids seem to like this just as much (if not more) than regular 4×6 pictures because there’s a story, and they’re protected, and it’s building over time (always with a promise for more).
    I’ve also done pages for our Christmas traditions, Easter, birthdays, “About Dave”, “About Melissa”, etc. I try not to keep the pages simple (I get overwhelmed easily!) It’s been great to read how the kids are recieving the pages. SO GREAT!

  15. Nice post! “It is not news to me that people live that way, but to put names and faces with those stories is dreadfully sobering” This is a good point. I suspect this is why those save the children commercials introduce you to a real child…

  16. Sponsoring children is a wonderful way of allowing your children to see how children in other parts of the world live and let them give towards them. Good for you!

    I have a suggestion that worked for us in the cleaning up department. We do mini clean ups through out the day. Before snacks, before lunch, before dinner. If they want to color or bead or small things such as polly pockets, it’s done at the table and the floors must be cleared before they can move onto that. Staying at one table for the little stuff really helps to contain it. With the mini clean ups everyone helps, no options, even the little guys, they just have me hand over hand with them to get them used to the idea. Once the routines are established with it, it’s amazing how it cuts down on the stress.

  17. Great post! My internet’s been down since Shannon & Boomama’s trip. I can’t wait to read about it. I know I couldn’t go b/c I’d bring 14 kids home with me. I guess it’s time to take care of at least one of them, huh?

  18. I totally understand where your coming from!! I have 3 kids of my own, and they’re still very much in that age! Sometimes I wonder if cleaning any part of the house at all makes any sense at all. But it’s all worth it in the end 🙂

  19. I almost didn’t comment because SO many people have before me. What more can I possibly say? But I wanted to thank you for this post. I struggle with the same sin and I hate it too. I am glad that I’m not the only one who struggles. I see the other ladies at church and keeping their houses picture perfect 24/7 doesn’t seem to me the huge challenge for them that it is for me. Ooops! There goes another sin! Thank you for the encouragement!! I hope you won’t be so hard on yourself in the future though. 🙂

    And thank you for sharing recipes! Over the past couple weeks I’ve tried Pulled Pork (huge hit, making that again this weekend), Shrimp Scampi Linguine (another huge hit I’ll be making next week) and the chicken enchiladas (I can’t to make them again) were awesome! It’s so great to find new recipes the whole family loves.

  20. I needed to read this reflection today, because I literally just hauled me and my pregnant bod off the couch and am trying to gear up to face picking up all the toys again and face another mountain of dishes, sans dishwasher.

    We do have so much to be thankful for.

  21. When I have days like this I am often forced to realize that I am letting my DD get by sometimes with ZERO responsibilities.I’m a big believer in kid chores, but sometimes between art lessons, Weds night church and volleyball and reading lists and homework…….the chores get forgotten. I realize I am not doing her a favor by letting my notice of her undone chores slip by.

  22. Lovely post. We moms can’t help but feel this way sometimes – beaten down. It does get a little monotonous. But yes, we do have to be OH SO THANKFUL fo all of those toys on the floor, for the laundry to clothe our backs and for the food we have to cook.

    My oldest is still a little young to understand, but just the other day he did give his own money to a box we have for a fund for poverty striken children through our church. I don’t think it is ever to early to teach them how to give to others. I could tell he felt very good about it too.

    I read your above post as well and congratulate you for choosing to give and give…

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