A Sink Full of Dishes

I actually wrote this last Sunday (September 22), but due to a full life and one boy sick with typhoid, there hasn't been a moment to get this ready to post. Just some scrambled thoughts on a Sunday morning.

It's Sunday morning. The sun is over the horizon, and with my coffee and Bible time finished, I am feeling restless. It's my day off from my morning walk/run, but if it weren't for Jason's 3+hour weekly ride time, I am pretty sure I would slip out the door and inhale the fresh morning air in deep, soul-filling gasps. My early morning hours are when I clear my head, talk with the Lord, and when I set aside everything else that fills my day as I make my way around the same 3.2 mile loop. This morning, I am missing it deeply.

The kids are all awake and with cuddles done, books read, and little ones clean and ready for the day, I acknowledge aloud that I can no longer ignore the pile of dishes in the sink. "You should have done them last night," I chastise myself. But I didn't and they now threaten to overflow onto the counters and floor. With breakfast dishes soon to be added, I have no choice. I reluctantly walk to the kitchen, grab my apron, spend a good ten minutes drying out the gloves that no matter how many times I ask that others be careful, always seem to have water in them. I turn the tap and let the water run, hoping today is one of the magical days when it actually comes out hot. As I find my sponge and grumble silently to myself, the words repeat themselves again and again,

"Everyone wants a revolution. No one wants to do the dishes."

I read the article a few weeks ago and like a relentless headache, I am reminded of it almost every time I move. "No one wants to do the dishes," it taunts me. No one wants to be faithful in the small things. No one wants to change the diapers and nurse the little one to sleep or clean up the two-year-old's mess, or wipe another bottom, or read the same book for the 100th time. Faithfulness in the small things isn't fun, isn't newsworthy, isn't going to get anyone to like us on Facebook or follow us on Pinterest or subscribe to our blog. Faithfulness in the small things doesn't sound nearly as exciting as dream chasing, ministering to the downtrodden, or publishing a book. No one is going to cheer us on for making dinner, teaching a toddler to say, "Excuse me" instead of "Move!" or for making sure the math pages get done. These small and often bothersome things that take up our time scream at us, "We are so insignificant!" "We are a waste of your time and education!"  and "Why don't you go out and do something meaningful?"

I get it. I really do. Ideation is one of my strengths. I am a dreamer of dreams and a creative soul. I bore quickly. I want my life to mean something. I take God at His word that our lives are to be lived in service to Him. I want to reach the lost, help the poor, and make Christ look all-satisfying. I can spend days fleshing out yet another idea or dream. Moving back to India. Starting a health club in America where showing off your scantly-clothed body isn't the main motivation for being there. Writing books (oh so many books I want to write!) Planning and hosting a women's retreat where each lady can focus on being the woman God made her to be (instead of the woman God created her friend to be). Moving to Africa and taking in orphans so that a few less kids go to bed at night hungry and alone. Opening a guest house where cross-cultural workers can find rest and renewal.

Believe me, I get what it means to have dreams.

These dreams aren't bad. They keep my soul stirred and my heart beating to the rhythm of Christ who lives within me. I want to do great things for the Lord. I want to be used. I want to see that my years spent on this earth are making a difference. I want to inspire others to bury their hearts in the word, fill their minds with eternal things, and get their bodies moving so that they can be ready for whatever path God calls them to. I want all of these things.

But I don't want to do the dishes.

There is nothing exiting or revolutionary in filling a sippy cup or playing another round of Candy Land. There is nothing heart-thrilling in disciplining your seven-year-old for punching his sister. There is no elation in  having successfully gotten kids to brush their teeth, pick up their room, or put their dishes in the sink.

Oh you dishes...there you are again.

If I am honest, my sinful nature doesn't want my life to be characterized by faithfulness. I want FUN! I want ADVENTURE! I want EXCITEMENT! I want to go on elephant treks in Laos and biking trips through South India. I want to feed orphans and run a marathon. I want to wake up every day ready for the next new thing. But the dishes? No thank you.

"Oh Lord! I will do anything! I will go anywhere You ask and do anything you want me to!"

Oh but wait, I have a few restrictions. I will only do anything and everything You want as long as I only have to have __ number of kids, can have __ amount of money coming in every month, and as long as what I do with the majority of my time looks good on a resume. And by the way, it needs to be really exciting and if I have a some great pictures to go with it, even better!

"Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?" (Romans 7:24).

God made me a dreamer. I am not ashamed of that. I am not ashamed for dreaming dreams or pursuing goals. What I am ashamed of is this:

  • When I ask God to do something meaningful in my life but I resent the very meaningful six little people and one big person he has put in my life and in my home.
  • When chasing my dreams or filling my adventure-seeking heart is more important than being faithful in the every-day-and-not-so-glamorous tasks of mothering, marriage, and homemaking.
  • When I resent having to do things that no one else can see or affirm.
  • When I spend time chasing my dreams and then don't have the energy, time, or desire to be kind (in word and deed) to my family.
  • When I what I crave more than the dream is the approval and applause it will bring me.
  • When I make excuses for my laziness in unglamorous tasks because I have been too busy "chasing my dream" or "ministering to others."
  • When I resent down periods in life that are characterized by unexciting and monotonous days that are so similar that they all run together.

And  most humbling and cringe-worthy:

  • When I live in such a way that says, "I am better than Christ."

Jesus didn't do the glamorous or most exciting thing. Can you imagine all He could have done on earth? He was GOD was on earth! At His disposal He had all glory, power, and dominion. Satan tried to convince Him to do great things. But Jesus refused. Instead He chose to be faithful in the small things. He chose to nourish Himself in the Word rather than turn stones into bread. He decided to forsake testing God (and awing men) in order to be obedient. He turned down the offer to be ruler over many kingdoms and have the praise, worship, and approval of all people in order to keep the approval and praise of the One who mattered most.

Jesus took the job of the lowliest slave and washed the dirt and dung off his disciples feet.

Jesus spent the majority of his time on just twelve people. Instead of focusing on the crowds, most of his energy and time was spent on training, teaching, and sending of just a few uneducated, immature, praise-hungry, and slow-to-understand men.

Jesus kept His mouth closed when people insulted Him or falsely accused Him. He didn't try to defend himself or explain His point of view.

Jesus quietly submitted himself to His parents and learned from his father how to work with his hands. He didn't spend His time saying, "Why should I work? I am GOD!"

Jesus didn't resent the little children. He didn't send them to the TV or to Children's Church. He said, "Let the little children come to Me."

So all of that resentment, pride, arrogance, and dare I say, "dreams" that I have are filled with me thinking of myself as better than Christ. Sure, He can serve without expecting any return, be content with a small group of people to deeply invest in, and graciously welcome the little ones to gather around Him. But me? Nope. I need to "do something meaningful" and "chase my dreams."

I am not saying that my (or anyone else's) dreams are necessarily wrong. I think that God created each of us with a personality, purpose and a plan. I think that God can and will do great things in us. He says that those who are faithful in the small things will be trusted with great things. I hope that one day God will take the many dreams of my heart and help me see some of them to fruition. I want to see the unique (and admittedly intense) personality He put in me blossom into all it was meant to be. I want to look back on my life and see that these years of struggle, heart-break, lessons, stumbling, and dreaming were all a lead-in to something big. I really do want dreams to come true.

But first I need to do the dishes.

6 thoughts on “A Sink Full of Dishes

  1. Rhadonda

    Ouch! My heart and my toes are totally in pain. But you are spot on! You ARE doing something big by speaking into so many lives who read your postings. You ARE writing books with each chapter perhaps being each time you post. I love your honesty, I love your thought-provoking musings. Thank you so much for sharing and encouraging and challenging us each time. I love you my around-the-world friend and sister in Christ. Now off to do the laundry because yesterday I did the dishes and not the laundry!

  2. jen

    Wow…you nailed it! I stumbled across your blog quite some time ago (1 year or 2, I don’t really remember). I haven’t looked at it for a while but SO very thankful the Lord led me here tonight. I needed to hear this reminder of the importance of being faithful in the small things the Lord has already entrusted to us. Love the way you express yourself. Keep up the good work!

  3. Nicole

    Wow. Thank you for sharing this, Janet! So good. It’s always convicting for me to think about the little things I’m not faithful in, while I run around pursuing all my dreams. Sigh. Those dreams—so distracting!

    Sometimes I find that it’s better for my heart to leave that sink of dishes there… because I’ll be running around to make my house look presentable only because I want to “look good” in front of other people. Life gets crazy, the house is a mess, and I want to look like I can “do it all” when people walk through our doors. So, sometimes as a “heart exercise,” I will let things stay as they are just to remind myself not to be a show off. LOL! That’s where I struggle. But I also need to remind myself not to be running off to more attractive things and despising the sweet, happy, quiet life of a well-managed home. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Deepa

    I have a pile of dirty dishes in the sink right now that I put off for tomorrow morning. Being faithful with the little we’ve been given is so hard, isnt it?
    Thank you for your post. It is helping me put things in perspective.


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