I’ve spent the majority of my morning working in my living room—my Bible open, worship music playing in the background, treasured books scattered around me, my laptop, notepads, several colored pens and highlighters, hot coffee within my reach—all things that make my heart happy and at peace. Except that it hasn’t been.
For three and a half hours I repeatedly and anxiously glanced over at my kitchen sink—overflowing (literally) with dishes. The dishwasher was filled to capacity as well, but fortunately with clean dishes since I had finally managed to run it last night after days of it lying dormant. This has been one of those weeks that the clutter has grown exponentially.
CLUTTER BEGETS CLUTTER
But I couldn’t blame the clutter itself. Much like sin—clutter that’s left unattended will always grow. Clutter begets clutter and I had left it unattended to for days. I don’t normally neglect my kitchen like this. My kitchen is usually quite clean, but somehow this week I had gotten way off track and the resulting pile-up was just more than I wanted to tackle.
This morning, as I was finishing making breakfast before school, my 6-year-old daughter said, “Mommy, we don’t have any forks.”
“That’s ok…just use a spoon. It’ll make eating eggs a fun game!” I answered her, impressed with my creative ‘solution’.
“But, we don’t have any clean spoons either.”
So…there you have it, friends. In my laziness this week, I had managed to strip my children of the ability to eat with clean utensils.
GOD IS NOT A GOD OF DISORDER
While I fished plastic forks out of the pantry I couldn’t help but be reminded of 1 Corinthians 14:33 ‘For God is not a God of disorder, but of peace.’ Paul is writing to the church at Corinth about the importance of order within worship. It occurred to me at that moment that our lives are meant to be an expression of worship—and God desires for us to have order and peace in our lives so that we can worship more freely.
So what does any of that have to do with dirty dishes? It turns out—a whole lot.
Several years ago I read a book by Emily Barnes called More Hours in My Day. In that book she encourages readers to time the daily tasks that they don’t enjoy in order to get a perspective on how long it really takes to get unenjoyable, yet necessary, tasks finished and out of the way.
We all have tasks that we dislike—tasks that tempt us to laziness and discontentment, but when left unattended threaten to steal our peace. Dishes, making the bed, and emptying the dishwasher rank very high on my list, as well as folding and putting my daughter’s clothes away. The loads for small children have 3 times as many clothes!
After several hours of feeling less than peaceful while trying to devote myself to writing and working, I got up to refill my coffee—and in the process I found myself staring anxiously at my overflowing sink. I knew something needed to be done now or my heart was not going to settle.
That moment marked the start of a showdown of sorts.
I looked at the sink.
I looked at the clock.
I looked back at the sink.
And it was on!
5 MINUTES AND 23 SECONDS
That was all the time it took to empty my filled-to-capacity dishwasher, and all the time it took for my heart to settle back into a place of rest. I suddenly felt far more equipped to handle the dishes in the sink as well, most of which were at least rinsed and ready to be loaded in the dishwasher. My total kitchen makeover, including wiping down the counters, lasted all of 14 minutes and 17 seconds.
Fourteen minutes to return to peace. Fourteen minutes until the head noise that kept telling me I was failing at homemaking was replaced by the quiet hum of the dishwasher that proved otherwise. Fourteen minutes to feel like I had served my husband and my children. Fourteen minutes until my soul could freely focus on the work and writing God had called me to today—without the distraction of the chaos surrounding me.
What tasks threaten to steal your peace and joy? Consider timing them. It’s so much easier to get something done and behind you when you learn the measurable fraction of time you are exchanging for the resulting peace. It’s such a small price to pay in exchange for such a huge reward—and it will change your perspective on unenjoyable tasks tremendously.
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