The Joy of the Mundane

IMAG0769

Most of the time it seems our lists and chores and errands are just something to get done and get out of the way.  They aren’t joy-filled, or joy-making.  We view them as joy-destroying.  Endless drudgery that must be done over and over and over again and no one cares and no one notices.  I have felt this way, and will probably sink down into it and feel it again, but I won’t stay there.  Not after what I have learned.  I have learned to find hope and joy among the laundry and dishes.

I want you to find it too.

It has to do with the lenses which we use to focus on the mundane drudgery that is part of our daily existence.  We create mess every day.  We must prepare meals every day.  It can seem like a life sentence confining us to endlessly repeat the same tasks over and over again and never make any progress forward, for as soon as the hamper is empty, someone puts something dirty in it.  As soon as the sink is empty, someone puts something dirty in it.  We feel emptied by the work and then we put something dirty in it.  Dirty thoughts of hopelessness, drudgery,  not being appreciated or loved, taken advantage of, used up and useless all at the same time…and so many more.  This is a vicious cycle and this is what women have railed against for years.  ”We need only think of how the gift of motherhood is often penalized rather than rewarded, even though humanity owes it’s very survival to this gift.” (John Paul II, On the Dignity of Women).  But there is more to it….there is beauty and purpose in it. There is something that those who belittle this vocation and womanhood have missed.

We have been tricked into looking at our life through the wrong lens.

quick import 080728 218

We were created by a loving and generous God in His image and He said that we are good (Gen1:27-31). God’s first instructions to man and woman was to work…be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth, til it and keep it. (Gen 1:26, 2:15).  Work was not a burden in the beginning.  It was a sharing in the creative work of God.  Blessed John Paul II talks extensively about the dignity of work and the worker, no matter what the work, or where it’s done and that this work is what makes us even more human.  Work is the mark of a family…”the mark of a person operating within a community of persons”.  He calls the family “a community made possible by work and the first school of work within the home for every person.” (Blessed John Paul II, Laborem exercens)  Including us moms.  If we think about it, we are always being “schooled” in the areas of housework.  There are so many books, blogs, websites, articles in papers and magazines on housekeeping, cleaning, organizing, parenting,…the list goes on.  So, from the beginning and without end our “home”work is learned in our homes, every day.  We, as mothers and wives, are the primary learners and teachers of this “home”work.  If it is such an important part of our family and our world, then why is it so difficult and wearisome to our spirits? What about our lens?

“Awareness that man’s work is a participation in God’s activity ought to permeate….”the most ordinary everyday activities.  For while providing the substance of life for themselves and their families, men and women are performing their activities in a way which appropriately benefits society.” (Blessed John Paul II, Laborem exercens).  So,the first filter we need to attach to our lens is that of work having purpose in the life of man.  That work was created for man, after man was created.  That work is important to the very fabric of our world.  With only this filter, we can see that there is a need for work and that God told us to do it, but it still isn’t quite clear.  We work out of innate human-ness and out of obedience to God.

But there is still  more.

100_3727

If we look to our Lord, Jesus Christ, He had some things to show us and to tell us.  Both Matthew (20:28) and Mark (10:45) tell us that Jesus, the greatest of all, came to serve and not to be served.  If the one who can do all things came to serve us who can do nothing without Him, then we too should be here to serve and not to be served.  I have heard it over and over again that if you are feeling down and sad, serve someone; if you are feeling lonely and your life pointless, serve someone; if you are feeling guilty and angry, serve someone.  Service to others is not only a way of following Christ’s example but it lifts us up inside.  It actually makes us feel good.  So, in practice I can see this when serving in the community or serving those in need, but it is hard to see our work in the home as service to someone in need.  When we look through the filter of expectations and return for investment, we don’t get lifted up, because our family is not applauding us for our work.  We are tired and worn down, but if we turn and look to Jesus we hear Him saying:

“Come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Here, Jesus says he will help us bear the burden if we go to Him.  So, we turn from our worldly expectations of applause and thanks, we turn from the world that John Paul II stated is often looking down on the vocation of women as mothers, we turn from our own disillusionment and go to Christ who will be our help.  Just as God made woman to help man, so Christ promises to help us.  We are to be Co-workers with Christ.

Wow!

Suddenly I”m not doing this alone, in the darkness of my own despair.  Jesus is with me! In me! and working through me!  And what is Christ, if not love?  “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.” (1John 4:16). God is love and He is in me!!  I have Love right there inside of me…what do I do with that love?  “…let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” (1John3:18).  So, love isn’t a feeling, love is a doing!!  I must DO in order to love. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph 5:1-2).   Christ told me to learn from Him, to cast my cares on Him, that he would help me, that He is love and I should imitate and share that love, by imitating Him, by making my work a unified sacrifice with Christ and therefore a fragrant offering to God.  My laundry can be a bouquet for God the Father through Christ and with Christ!  That definitely brings a different filter to add to my  lens.100_3730

“When the laundry is for the dozen arms of children or the dozen legs, it’s true, I think I’m due some appreciation.  So comes a storm of trouble and lightning strikes joy.  But when Christ is at the center, when dishes, laundry, work, is my song of thanks to Him, joy rains.  Passionately serving Christ alone makes us the loving servant to all. ..The work becomes worship, a liturgy of thankfulness.” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts).

We are given the choice to share lovingly in the work that Christ came to do by enduring the toils, and hardships of work and collaborating with Christ who was crucified for us to help redeem the world.  Our work is redemptive when united with Christ’s work.  By carrying our cross daily in the work of our home and family we show that we are disciples of Christ and that our work can be a means of our own holiness and a way of bringing the Spirit and love of Christ into the ordinary activities of everyday.  We have been endowed with the “Genius of women” who by way of our ordinary life we “reveal the gift of (our) womanhood by placing (ourselves) at the service of others in (our) everyday lives.  For in giving (ourselves) to others each day (we) women fulfill (our) deepest vocation” (Blessed John Paul II, On the Dignity of Women).2008 Florida 042

Which lenses will you choose today?

Today I choose Joy!  (if only I remembered to pick up the right lens every day!)

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply