There seems to be a focus on “work” as of late. At least in my world there is; there are sermons about it, books about it, and blogs about it. In our little circle, we praise God for the good truths he encourages us with in this area.
In the midst of the encouragement these sermons, books and blogs bring, though, there can also be cause for pride, self-righteousness, comparison, criticalness…I could go on…and it has to do with, of all things, the dishes.
Who should do the dishes, I hear? Where do the dishes fit in to work, I read? Many praises to the man who finds time to schedule dishes in to his work day, I hear! Many praises to the woman who brings this ‘issue’ to light, I see!
I hear these questions from women, and I wonder about what’s really going on in the heart.
I once heard a leader in our church tell us that he helped his wife with the dishes. At the time, I felt embarrassment and shame, because my husband didn’t help me with the dishes at all. I thought to myself, if he truly loves me, if he truly loves God, if he truly wants to serve his family, he should be helping me with the dishes like this person.
Comparison. Judgment. Condemnation. Criticalness. All these things grew in my heart towards my husband with a simple snap of my fingers.
The result? I quickly connived of the best scenario to bring this topic up to my husband. My mind was full of manipulating circumstances, planning the kindest of conversation, and a desire to control his actions and his heart’s condition to his “betterment.” My opinion and desire in this matter seemed logical and spiritual and, of course, best. I knew where he needed to grow, I knew how he should serve, and I knew that he needed to hear from me. I knew, I knew, I knew…
In essence, it was all about me. What will others think? And by golly, I am entitled to help! I do all the laundry and clean the house and make the food, bathe the baby, and he should be helping with the dishes!
In thinking this way, I was virtually unconcerned with what he thought. What he did all day. Where he felt the freedom to serve. What he thought his strengths and his weaknesses were. What he thought my strengths and weaknesses were. I neglected to take into account the tasks and duties and chores of husband and father he already performed.
In my gumption to conform him to my will I was unconcerned with his motives in serving. I didn’t care if my coercion would result in his heart being a heart serving out of force and sugary sweet badgering. I didn’t think about how his heart would likely be dwelling in a condition of negativity, resentment and unwillingness. I cared about my ideas, what would serve me best, and what would look best to others. I was self-righteous.
What shame! What tragedy! The human heart can be so very deceitful, above all things. It can be so self-absorbed and love so little those dearest to it. And the consequence for husbands can be a heart full of defeat, thinking and feeling that they have failed us and our expectations very badly, indeed.
But thanks be to God! Who rescues us from this wretched body of death, who shows us of these deceiving ways, and brings us the light of his Son and illuminates with brilliancy the shame and tragedy of this way of thinking. Through the cross our God brings us close to the light, and gives us pleasant places where we plant ourselves in his firm soil of truth to grow.
So the question remains: who should do this ‘work’ of the dishes?
My answer for women is this: I don’t know. But I have a question for you in return: what is your motive behind this question? Is it to make your family look spiritual? Is it to save face before other wives? Is it to make your opinions known? Is it to make sure your work is well known, well-spoken of, not neglected, not forgotten? Is it to make every effort to defend your role? Is it to make your name known?
Certainly there is a time and place to address concerns and needs with our husbands, to share responsibility, and to express our feelings and opinions. Ladies, by all means, allow and encourage your men to help with the dishes! But as you do it, take care of your own heart. Let’s not be women who are eager to be in the spotlight of our churches, or circles of friends, or homes. Rather, let’s be more like Christ, even in these small matters. Let’s humble ourselves, let’s be selfless, let’s not be demanding, let’s not pursue selfish ambition in this matter of dishes (or the laundry, or picking up socks, or whatever it may be for your family). Let’s take on the form of a servant, as Christ did, that God might highly exalt us. Let’s be blameless and innocent, well-known as being children of God who shine as light! Let’s hold fast to the word of life when we are tempted to grumble and complain about the dishes being undone, and know that we can be glad and rejoice that Christ has died for just such a time as this, to take care of our hearts’ complaints in the dailiness of life, to empower us to pray through these times, and to pour out wisdom and discernment for these moments upon his children who ask for it.
Do not fret, be not anxious, but present all your requests to God, who promises to hear you from heaven and care for you. He has given you everything you need for life and godliness in this life; he will give you and your husband everything you need for working heartedly, as unto him, even with those dishes.