It was a beautiful spring day when my kids were much younger. I was cleaning and preparing for Easter weekend and all the family activities it would entail. I had just made a fresh batch of snickerdoodles and wanted to surprise my children by letting them have a cookie before the weekend festivities got underway.
I called them. And then I called them again. I heard some scurrying around and a few hushed whispers. Mom alert. Something’s up. What had I interrupted … hmmm. My oldest always comes when I call her, and the boys, well… it had been a little quiet. And so Sergeant Mom kicked into action. “Kids, what are you up to! Didn’t you hear me call? I’d better not find a mess in my freshly cleaned house. BeckyMikeSteveandJon … come here this instant!”
What had my kids been doing in that moment? At my eldest’s suggestion, they had been cleaning their rooms to surprise me. And when they heard my first call, informed by experience, they were sure they were in trouble. They were scurrying around in a rushed attempt to make sure every little detail of the house was exactly the way I would want it… ‘t’s’ crossed and ‘i’s’ dotted, house ready for guests (not necessarily for family enjoyment).
What had I done to my children in that moment? In my desire to establish order in my home, I was impatient. I harshly judged them, made assumptions about what they were doing, then acted on those assumptions before I even knew what was going on. I wanted my ducks in a row in that particular moment more than I wanted God’s glory and was willing to sin against my family to get it. As a result, we missed the fun of a shared surprise and the joy of me encouraging them in their desire to help the family effort by not only doing, but exceeding, their daily chore routine.
If any of this sounds familiar (feel free to change the names and specific circumstances), you, like me, may fall prey to the temptation to find your sense of well-being in order and control. Let’s face it, life is not predictable, and chaos can often reign in even the most mundane of daily circumstances. Sometimes it is much easier to respond to life by commanding order than finding the grace of God amidst the disorder. It can be easier to try to control others in your life than to deal lovingly with the complexities of our varied relationships.
I am learning that cleaning my house is not an end in itself, but rather something I do to serve my family and ultimately to serve the Lord. Colossians 3:17 tells us, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” My well-being shouldn’t come from a perfectly cleaned house, but rather from the Lord and serving his purposes for my day. And so, in the midst of the undone, interruptions, and chaos of my life, when I go through my day seeking to please the Lord, I will find my well-being in him and he will help me walk in the good works he has prepared for my day (Ephesians 2:10).