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 Caroline, 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.