As a stay-at-home-mom, my daily tasks usually entail some combination of the following:
- Cook and clean up breakfast, lunch, and dinner
- Dress/bathe/feed/play with/diaper/potty train children as needed
- Do the dishes
- Wash and fold the clothes
- Clean the bathrooms
- Vaccuum the floors
- Bake a batch of cookies, if I find the time
- Volunteer at school or church, when I can
I know I’m blessed to even have the option of staying home while my kids are young. If I were to turn back the clock, I would choose it all over again. However, it did feel strange to give up the life I had before. Back then, there were educational accomplishments, professional associations, career plans, and hopes of impacting the lives of people beyond my own four walls.
Like many women of my generation, I have been influenced by the culture to believe that education and career are more admirable than having children or working in the home. As a result, in my present season, I sometimes feel that I am wasting my life. “I suppose I could have stayed home, baked cookies, and had teas…” – isn’t that what Hillary Clinton had said?
I did stay home, I suppose. And bake cookies. And yes…occasionally, there is tea.
As my days stretch into weeks, months, and years, I feel burdened by a sense of futility. Am I stuck in the mud? Are my wheels spinning? Am I accomplishing anything, in all of my doing?
Thankfully, the scriptures are clear on how God tests the quality of our works. And His measuring stick is different than ours. He does not care for the letters behind our names, the diplomas on our walls, the numbers on our paycheques, or the titles on our doors (as if He had a need for our heroism). Our contributions to His Kingdom are not directly correlated to worldly achievements.
Furthermore, God does not gauge His opinions of us based on the testimonials of our clients, customers, or even those we minister to. Rather, He sees the things we do when nobody is watching. He values the acts of service and years of dedication, that may not be applauded, awarded, or noticed by anyone else.
God’s concern is less about what we do, than it is about the state of our hearts. He sees the true motives behind our actions. Are we serving our own ego? Or do we truly love Him, and the people He has placed in our lives? The smallest, humblest tasks, done in genuine love, are like gold and silver and costly stones to Him. The most difficult, impressive feats, however – when done from a place of self-aggrandizement – will burn up like straw.
“If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved – even though only as one escaping through the flames.” 1 Corinthians 3:12-15
“I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills…If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.” Psalm 50:9,11
“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” 2 Timothy 2:20-21
“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” Proverbs 21:2
And this is why, if I neglect the innocent needs of my children to strive for worldly importance, the carpet is swept from beneath my feet. Why my efforts to ‘do more’ and ‘be better’ are thwarted again and again. Why I find myself hidden away, behind the walls of my kitchen, where peering eyes are not upon me and the simple works that I do can flow from a place of purity – unadulterated by my lust for the accolades of people.
My obscurity, I see, is an act of grace. My insignificance, a blessing. Because the Lord does not wish for my works to burn up like hay or straw.
I believe the Lord wants me to be ok with never receiving any glory in this life. Sometimes this feels like a tough one to swallow. However, with time, I have grown to see the incredible freedom of this mindset: as if, like a sledgehammer, He has broken the wall I’ve thrashed against a thousand times. He has released me from the clutches of an idol I’ve been slave to for years, without even knowing it: the idol of my own prominence and worldly success.
Whether I stay home or go, or bake cookies or not, or complete a great project or finally finish that round of Monopoly with my son – if the Lord is in it, it matters. If I’m loving Him and loving people, it has eternal value. To serve my own glory is to worship a fickle master. To serve His glory, however, is to bear fruit that will stand the test of fire.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:16-17