I’m ignorant about actual workhorses. But lately, when I think of myself, this is the word that keeps sticking in my head. I feel like an overworked, underappreciated, unattractive, old horse. It’s not a great feeling. And I’m working my way through it, not around it. Some days I feel justified attributing this word to my person. Some days I think I’m just feeling sorry for myself. Some days the weariness behind the label catches up with me and pulls me down. Some days I rise above it and actually feel pretty good. All days, I’ve got a lot on my plate.
The good old plate. Everyone has one. Everyone is trying to balance the portions on their plate. Making sure they have a little bit of everything. All things are allowed in moderation. But the challenge is making sure that everything that has a place on the plate, has some value to the diner.
The trick, I suppose is to reclaim the moments of drudgery and turn them into something valuable. Can I rebrand cleaning the toilet to worship? Do all things unto Him? I should, and I’d like to get there. But for now, can I at least make my daily tasks feel less like useless contributors to exhaustion?
As a stay-at-home mom I’ve surrendered myself to the endless monotony of homemaking. Some sick part of me actually enjoys housework. And I realize, I don’t even hate vacuuming the same spot 4 times a day anymore. It’s automatic and I’m not even cognizant that I’m doing it anymore. Is the counter full of crumbs? wipe, wipe. Are the throw pillows on the floor again? pick them up, pick them up. Are there dishes in the sink? Wash and dry, wash and dry. Several times a day. It’s a hamster wheel.
I try to refocus my mind to grab a hold of these moments. To make some kind of zen out of them. Truth is, the closest I get to meditation is performing these mindless tasks over and over again. So maybe there is value in that empty space? Maybe I can find joy in the simple act of letting my mind go empty and then wander at will? Instead of cleaning my house, I’m cleaning my mind. Letting thoughts just retreat out of my head as the dust bunnies retreat into the vacuum. Ok, so cleaning becomes a form of meditation….I can get behind that. But If I find no joy in it, my body just remembers the wear and not the why.
Yard work. Living things, good soil and good work. It’s great for the soul perhaps, but nothing turns my body into that of an 85 year old like weeding and digging. Just ask my chiropractor. So after an hour of gardening, what did I accomplish? The weeds are fewer, for the moment. But my back is aching for days. Is there value in this task? I suppose there is the sunlight on my shoulders, the fresh air in my lungs and a yard to be proud of. Is pride enough to guarantee joy in the completion of a task? For a time, maybe.
Why do I do all these things? Truly. I think the simplest answer is, because they need to be done. Ok, but why? Take the garden for example. Why does it need to be weeded? Because otherwise the weeds will choke out the flowers. Why do I care? Because I planted those flowers. Why? Because I think they’re beautiful and I love them. Bingo.
Next. Why do you wash dishes? Because they get dirty and you can’t use dirty plates. Why do you need plates? To serve meals to people I love. Yup.
Next. Why do you do 6 loads of laundry a week? Because the clothes are dirty. Why? The people I love that were wearing the clothes were living such a fantastic, dirty life that they got muck all over their clothes. So are you washing these clothes so the people you love have something un-mucky to wear for their fantastic lives? Yes.
Next. Why do you pick up the dog poop? Because if I don’t, the yard will smell and the dogs I love will be surrounded by feces. Duh.
Here’s an easy one. Why do you cook food? To care for those I love. Why does it have to be healthy? Because I care about the health of those I love. Why do you have to try new recipes, the kids will just hate them anyway? Because, I want my beloved kids to be willing to try new things in life, even when they are scary or unusual.
Sigh. So it seems like I’ve discovered a pattern. I do must of this crap because of love. And if I’m doing it the hard way, it’s because I care so dang much. And that knowledge does genuinely make my body feel lighter in spite of the wear and tear of the day. Because love is the whole point of life. To know God’s love, to share it with others. To enjoy His love, and to treasure it above all else. So if ultimately, I do all things because LOVE, then I am doing all things in Him and for Him. If I can find a better attitude and keep my head up and my eyes pointed up, then all of this is worship.
I’m not a workhorse. I’m just a woman who needs to look up more from her work. A woman who needs to remember that she chose this house, these kids, these pets and this yard and she LOVES them. They are gifts. And she gets to care for them. But I also do need to stop once and a while and make sure I’m also caring for someone else that God loves…little old me. God often steps in and does it for me. There have been countless times where I’ve taken on too much and I refuse to cut back. Then I get sick and I’m out for at least a week. I truly believe that God sees my stubborness and knows that the only way to get me to take care of myself, is to knock me on my ass. Nothing is scarier to me than getting sick, because I know that I can’t take care of everyone when I’m sick. And I’m really good at my job and no one can fill in for me. I’ve made it so. It has taken me years to see the flu as a blessing. But God does work in mysterious ways, and for me, the flu has become an unexpected blessing.
But I think God doesn’t love doling out the flu just to get me to take a break. He would rather I take better care of my health, mental and physical on the daily. I need to be as good a steward of taking care of me as I am of my garden….wait…scratch that. My garden is full of weeds. So maybe, just maybe, I could be more important than the garden…wouldn’t that be something? What would that look like?
I genuinely don’t know. That’s a self-interview for another time I think.