Wednesday, June 15, 2011

An Attitude Adjustment...Surrendering in the Kitchen

I love this picture!  I love the joy on her face.  This is a joy that I have been hungering after for a long time.  Pure joy in serving my family through the simple act of washing up the dishes and cleaning the kitchen.

How does she do it?  What is she seeing or thinking about as she does what used to be my least favorite "household chore" that makes her smile like that?

These are questions that I've struggled with for most of my life.

Don't get me wrong...I've always loved seeing a clean kitchen with all of the dishes washed dried and put away and the counters cleared and wiped clean. A clean kitchen makes me feel good inside!  It helps me to feel even more motivated to get in there and prepare yummy, nutritious meals for my family.  

The problem was that I was blinded by the worlds definition of tasks like these...I saw them as mundane and something insignificant that took precious time away from the other "more important" things I needed to do.  

Sadly, this attitude of mine filled me with dread when it came time to clean up the kitchen.
What is even worse is that I allowed this worldly "I'm better than this kind of work" get in the way of the joyful attitude of blessing and service with which God wanted to fill me...

Here's one of the most important lessons I have learned over the order for the Holy Spirit to fill me up...that meant I had to die to my flesh...offer the messy ugliness of my worldly attitude to Him at the foot of the Cross.

Now I knew this was important in other areas of my life.  And I was really working on doing that.  But it took a very long time for me to see that God meant for the "menial chore" of cleaning the kitchen to be a joy and a blessing for me...and one that I could use to bless my husband and family!!!

"Seriously?"  I would ask God.  "You want ME to be the one to be in charge of the dishes and cleaning the kitchen?"

"But, God!"  I said..."My husband has volunteered to do the dishes for me and clean up the kitchen after I prepare meals for our family!" "He wants to bless me in this way!"  "Now you want me to tell him that I WANT to do it?!!"
20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?  Romans 9:20-21 
This is an actual conversation that I had with God...or better stated...God had with me...a couple of months ago.

It was one of those "Ouch", deep down in my soul, kind of conversations. 

It may sound like it shouldn't be a big the kitchen.  Just bite the bullet and do it...right?

But it wasn't the cleaning the kitchen that was the was my ATTITUDE about cleaning the kitchen that was the biggest problem.  It was my selfish desire to avoid cleaning the kitchen.  The thought that would run through my mind that if I didn't have to clean the kitchen...THEN I would be happy.  Ouch!  That was what God was convicting me about.  My happiness and joy doesn't come from avoiding the ministry (and dishes is part of my ministry) that God has blessed me with by having a negative attitude...
 1 A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.  Proverbs 14:1 (NLT) 
Without realizing it I had been the foolish woman in the area of cleaning our kitchen.

I have been blessed with a very selfless husband...who wants to bless me and doesn't like to see me miserable.  And my attitude while taking care of this task was that I was obviously miserable.  He didn't want to see me that he did everything possible to make me feel better.

He even bought me a dishwasher right after Christmas this year!  AND told me that the rest of the gift was that he and the boys would be doing the dishes so that I wouldn't have to do the one task that I seemed to hate so much.  

I was surprised beyond words...and I enjoyed being blessed but had a twinge of guilt.  Having someone do something like that for me was a very new experience.  In my previous marriage I was criticized over and over and over again for the smallest things.  The servant spirit that God had blessed me with had gotten lost in the negativity of my previous marriage.  It was there that I lost the joy of serving through cleaning the was never right...never good enough.  

God has been healing me from so much over the past three years...I had come so far in changing my attitude about serving.  But over the last year God has been revealing areas that I had not given to him...not surrendered.  

There was nothing wrong with my husband wanting to bless me...there is nothing wrong with my husband pitching in and us working as a team on some things...there was something VERY wrong with my attitude about one of the tasks that God has blessed me with as a stay at home wife and mother who really does desire to serve God.

So after seeing my attitude for what it was...a selfish attitude instead of the servant heart, sacrificial love kind of attitude that I truly desired to have...I was brought to my knees one afternoon in our bedroom while the children were asleep and my husband was working up in the home home office.
I cried out to God and asked Him to please forgive me and to help me surrender this area of my fleshly stronghold.

You know what?  He did!

I experienced a new freedom!  One that was more amazing than I ever imagined possible!  He replaced the selfishness inside me with a joyful, humble servant's heart.  I began seeing what I had called household "chores" in the past as ways to bless my husband and family.  It is an amazing feeling!

I went to my husband and told him that I WANTED to bless HIM by taking back the task of cleaning the kitchen.  I thanked him for blessing me but told him that it was time for me to take back my responsibility.

Do I get it right all of the time now?  Sadly no.  But I am learning that instead of looking at the tasks that are not my favorite as drudgery that if I look at them as opportunities to bless my family and husband and pray for them then it changes everything.  

One afternoon last week, I was washing the dishes while my husband was working in his office and the boys were playing Lego's.  I was listening to one of my favorite Christian CDs while working...and as I washed the dishes and looked at the gorgeous view of the Ozark mountains outside our kitchen window I was filled with the desire to worship Him!!!  

I stopped what I was eyes filled with tears...and my hands raised in praise and I thanked him for molding my clay heart into a servant's heart and filling me with His joy which surpasses all understanding.
 Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.   Psalm 100:2 (NASB) 
That joy overflows into how I talk to my children and husband while I am doing the household blessings...

A few weeks ago, our teenage daughter was visiting for a couple of weeks.  She told me that it must be nice to really like cleaning the kitchen.  My mouth fell open in surprise....and tears formed in my eyes as I explained to her that it was God who had transformed my attitude and because of the work that He is doing in me I can now find joy in what was once my least favorite thing to do.  

She was surprised that it wasn't something I've always liked.  She said that she had been watching me for the previous week and it had amazed her at how happy I seemed to be taking care of our home.  

She has the desire to be a homemaker someday...but doesn't enjoy some of the household chores.  We were able to have a blessed conversation about how God can transform even this area of our lives because of the surrendering I had done.  

I am in awe and so grateful that I was able to share my testimony of home making surrender with her.  She was able to open her heart to me as we had a precious mother-daughter talk.

And I could feel the smile of God on us as we washed the dishes that day...and the real ministry of sharing how to find pure joy in serving our husband and family was passed on.  

Question:  How's your homemaking attitude today?  Is it time to surrender something to God?

Learning to Surrender to Him Daily,

Mrs. Mary Joy Pershing
Gathering with other Christian Homemakers here:

Raising Homemakers Homemaking Link-Up

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