I could tell you many stories about times in life that I felt inadequate, weary, unable to overcome obstacles, incapable of repairing circumstances, and like my cup was totally empty. I could tell you stories from last week about every one of those things.
It is no secret that life is hard. It is hard in different ways for different people, but every one of us is up against challenges… physical, financial, personal, societal, spiritual.
Some people spend a lot of effort downplaying their challenges because they see that others’ struggles seem far bigger than their own, while others downplay because they want to look put together, like they’ve got a handle on every last thing. Others magnify their challenges, dismissing the hardships of others because they believe that no one could possibly be struggling more than they are, which is most-likely not true.
The truth is, anything we struggle with, big or small, is real to us.
Sometimes things that are small, seem big. And some things that are big, seem small. It is not actually helpful at all to downplay or magnify our personal challenges. I think acknowledging them is the best place to start.
I struggle to want to do dishes.
I stand at the sink and think about how unglamorous it is to scrape melted cheese from plates and scrub dried milk stains out of the bottom of cups. I want to kick myself when I fail to rinse out the blender carafe until hours after I’ve poured a smoothie, when all the strawberry seeds are stuck like glue to the sides. It’s annoying to toss half- eaten bits of things into the disposal and remember the pans I left out, unwashed, overnight with the remnants of last-night’s dinner. There are a million other things I would rather be doing than washing dishes. The hardest part for me is the sheer number of times per day that I have to load, start, and unload the dishwasher, just to have what we need for each meal.
The struggle is real. For me.
Last week I watched a documentary clip about mothers in Haiti who make- by-hand and feed their children dirt-cakes that have been dried in the sun because they have no other source of food to offer them. Their poverty is so great, they cannot even afford the most basic staples to feed their families.
My heart broke, and I had a moment that I felt really ashamed for my personal doing-dishes struggle, knowing that every one of those mothers would be overjoyed to be in my disheveled kitchen to gather even the melted cheese bits, an half-eaten lunch items and dinner remnants I am annoyed to be discarding, in order to nourish their babes.
All of a sudden, I saw my struggle from a new perspective.
Do I still struggle to want to do the dishes?… Sure I do.
But with a new perspective about the blessing it is to have a kitchen, and a whole set of dishes to use and wash, and a fridge to store healthy and delicious foods to feed my family, and a dishwasher to help with the cleanup job, I feel like it’s just a bit easier to stand at the sink over and over throughout the day, running clean water over dirty plates and giving thanks for each one and the mess that was on it.
Purposeful Thought: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain” Philippians 2:12-16.
Emily Sue Allen is a writer, photographer, creative and homeschool mom. She lives with her husband and six young children in Seattle. She blogs about life, faith, motherhood, and creativity at lightandloveliness.com.
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