As many of you know, I was blessed this winter by the son of a friend of mine. Joel worked long and hard to redecorate my laundry room. He fixed drywall holes, put in insulation, mudded, painted, laid a floor... all to my joy! Since then, doing laundry has been a pleasure.
I have rules posted so that the laundry room stays clean. The children know that they are not to throw things willy-nilly into my laundry room. They each have a basket in their rooms, and when the basket is full they are expected to carry it to the laundry room, wash and dry the contents, and put it all away. If they were to follow the rules, I would have a continually clean laundry room.
My laundry room is upstairs; I live downstairs. I only go up there once in a while, but when I do, I expect to see everything as I left it. I need a huge reality check.
I live with a bunch of children who happen to be sinners. They know what is right and good to do, but they forget, or sometimes they can't be bothered, or they are just too busy doing other good and valuable things, like cleaning the yard, studying math or history, or working with their dad.
Because of the above, my laundry room does not stay in the shining, glistening state that I want to see when I make the trek up the stairs. And every time I go up there, and see things out of place, I fume and fuss. It makes me angry. (Imagine the little green alien on Bugs Bunny...)
Today was one of those days. My older children were all off, either working, helping a sick older sister, or having a fun work bee type of day at a friend's house. To my dismay when I entered the laundry room, I found every surface cluttered with laundry - some folded, some not. I found socks on the floor, laundry baskets strewn about, and dirty laundry overflowing the hampers. ARRRGGGHHHH!!
I can tell you that it didn't make me happy to see that. I had just read a bit of Jim Elliot's journal, and was inspired by his desire to serve the Lord no matter what. The state of my laundry room caused me to grumble: "why do I have to do this work, mutter, mutter; why are my kids so lazy...grumble, grumble; how is my life going to count... groan, groan..." I phoned my daughter and vented, telling her that the state of the laundry room was unacceptable, and that she should pass that message on to her brothers.
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit whispered to me as I shed tears, standing there furiously folding clothes that should have been put away as soon as they were taken from the dryer (one of my rules!). He graciously reminded me that I had two sweet children home with me, watching me, learning from my example. I didn't want to spoil their day. It's not often I am alone with my two youngest.
So, I prayed. I repented. I reminded myself that I, too, break the rules. I am lazy. I don't do everything I ought to do. Yet God graciously forgives me. He overlooks my failings. He sees me as a precious, chosen child of HIS. And if I have been forgiven so much, surely I can forgive others. After all, the ones I was angry with were those I love dearest - my precious family.
This poem says it better than I can:
I like to see a lovely lawn
Bediamoned with dew at dawn,
But mine is often trampled bare,
Because the youngsters gather there.
I like a spotless house and clean
Where many a touch of grace is seen.
But mine is often tossed about
By youngsters racing in and out.
I like a quiet house at night
Where I may sit to read and write.
But my peace flies before the tones
Of three brass throated saxophones.
My books to tumult are resigned,
In vain my furniture is shined,
My lawn is bare, my flowers fall,
Youth rides triumphant over all.
I love the grass, I love the rose,
And every living thing that grows.
I love the books I ponder o’er,
But oh, I love the children more!
And so unto myself I say:
Be mine the house where youngsters play!
Oh, little girl, oh healthy boy,
Be mine the house which you enjoy!
by Edgar A. Guest
“Where no oxen are, the trough is clean. But much increase comes by the strength of the ox.” Proverbs 14:4