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Dirty Dishes by Brooke Reid

There used to be a day when cleaning up after supper was the bane of my existence. My kids were little and constantly needing me or requiring supervision. It always seemed that right around the time to start prepping dinner, the world began to fall apart.  I was busy trying to keep it all together, make dinner, and ensure no one got hurt in the process. By the time dinner was said and done, I was tired! Unfortunately, I was far from done. The massive hurdle of clean up and bedtime was still ahead of me. Now, I am well aware this is not a struggle unique to me. I mean, in all reality women have been doing this from the beginning of time without running water, much less a dishwasher. 

I think supper clean up was the worst for me personally, because I would wash dishes and grumble to myself. My thoughts were consumed by how my husband wasn’t helping like I thought he should be, how my kids couldn’t leave me alone for even 3 minutes to finish, how I had been working hard all day and I just needed a break. Sound familiar to anyone? Well hopefully not everyone struggles with a complaining heart like I did, but I have a feeling I am not alone in that struggle, either. 

God set out and began working on my heart. The transition from an angry, complaining heart to a (mostly) peaceful, grateful heart took some time, but there were some pivotal moments. One moment came from one of those cute cheesy signs I saw in someone’s kitchen.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember the sign exactly, but it was something to the effect that dirty dishes represent people in our lives. I realized that this mess was actually evidence of the people God had placed in my life. I started thinking about that sign and figured instead of grumbling, I could begin to pray for the people who ate off the dishes. This mostly included my family, but friends and extended family as well on occasion. I prayed while I cleaned with moderate consistency, but my heart slowly began to soften.

Another moment came with hearing that a sweet friend was unwell and was physically unable to care for her family. I am sad to say it took news like this for me to realize what a privilege and honour it was to care for my family. I remember crying at the kitchen sink thanking God for the strength to wash the dishes. As much as a break would be nice, ultimately, I wanted to be the one caring for my family. This strong nurturing component we share as women, I believe, is one of those attributes of God we get to experience as image bearers. God himself did not consider the dirty jobs of service below him. In the book of John, Jesus takes the time to wash his disciples’ feet. He even tells them after (John 15:13), “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” Seeing as how my family wears shoes most of the time, washing of feet isn’t required very often. Dishwashing on the other hand… 

Now don’t get me wrong, I haven’t quite arrived at Disney princess level when it comes to doing chores around the house while singing with the woodland creatures, but I am more grateful. The beautiful thing is that some of the lessons God taught me while doing something I loathed, transformed other aspects of my life as well. Praying while I washed allowed me to extend grace to my husband and kids. It turns out it is harder to be upset with someone while you are praying for them. Another realization that helped turn my complaining heart into one of contentment was recognizing my ability to serve wasn’t just a responsibility but also a gift.

What an honor to be able to follow in the example of service set by Christ.  I can now see purpose in even menial jobs. 

Now I understand that not everyone dislikes dishes as much as I did, but I am sure there is something in your daily routine that you dislike more than the rest. Yours could be folding the laundry, scrubbing the toilet, or something else entirely, but my prayer for you is that you’ll allow God to use that task as a starting ground for transformation in your life. The dishes and laundry will likely still be there, but maybe God will help you see the privilege it is to serve the ones you love in the same way He did. 

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