A friend was going to come over and a few days later a group of girlfriends was headed over. While cleaning the kitchen, the bathroom and putting away toys I was feeling quite motivated. I really was getting a lot done.
“Why can’t I be this motivated all the time?” I thought. “Why don’t I get this organized when my family needs me to? Why do friends and strangers motivate me more than the family I declare that I so deeply love?” I wandered in and out of that question all day. “I thought I was past the need for outside approval and was satisfied with being uniquely created and living that out?”
Friends, when you raise 4 small kids with a husband who travels it is easy to go down these rabbit holes. Most of the time I dismiss them but this one seemed to be going somewhere. Here’s what I learned…
When I think about picking up the house for my friends I am focused on what is coming. When I think about picking up the house for my family I am focused on what has already been.
I’m a hostess type, sort of. When I was growing up we had an open door policy of sorts. People were always welcome, even if it was a little crowded or a little inconvenient. Some of my best memories surround those moments so we’ve carried a similar tradition into our own family. Friends coming over is one of the things I look forward to the most in my chaotic weeks. I don’t mind the tidying up at all because I am looking forward to what is coming.
When I walk around the house, step on yet another Lego, spot another pile of discarded dress up clothes and see small stacks of books everywhere except the bookshelf all I can think of is the mess the kids have left behind. Left behind. The housework I do for my family often makes me feel left behind. My kids already had fun and left me behind. My husband went to work and left me behind. My friends have gone back to work life and passion projects and have left me behind.
In hindsight, it is a little irrational. My daughter set up this sweet tea party and invited me, she only left it behind when her sister asked her if she would help her get dressed up too. My husband is heartbroken to leave me with all these responsibilities each time he has to travel. While some of my friends are back working and engaging in amazing side projects, so am I!
It’s all about perspective and mine needs a reality check. But, I can be try to be present with a balanced perspective with all the positivity in the world and still be left wanting. Perspective alone isn’t enough to keep me going.
One Time, All the Time
One time graciousness is easy, repetitious graciousness is hard. I can make a meal for a friend with a new baby and it is relatively easy. Making three meals a day, every day of the week for my family, that takes a lot more effort. Watching a friends child for a couple hours is relatively easy. Refereeing my own children for six straight days by myself is a much bigger task.
Graciousness transforms into grace when sacrifice is required. I sacrifice very little when I do a singular favor or task. I sacrifice greatly when I go back and do the same task over and over and over.
Grace, we are back here at grace. I start thinking about my own life, the people who love me so deeply, the faith that claims me so clearly. Those people, that Jesus, the repetitive acts of forgiveness and love over the same shortcomings again and again and again.
I mentally see myself face first on my kitchen floor. Shock. Awe. Submission. Thankfulness. Grace.
There are people on this side of heaven that love me like that. My kids who after the end of a long day still hug me at bedtime and remind me I was the favorite part of their day. My husband who still loves me when I’ve been stubborn and self centered, again. My friends who bake cookies with me and laugh with me and cry with me, even if I don’t always do those things perfectly for them.
Jesus. Who died, for me. Who loves, me. Who gifts life, to me.
It’s almost too much to take.
Tonite I’ll do the 3 loads of laundry, sweep the floor yet again and think on these things. Maybe I’ve stumbled upon the magic formula to motivational housework and it all begins with grace…