So, I had a revelation. I don’t have a whole lot of revelations- they’re not usually my thing. I’d like to, but mostly I just notice a new issue I have to work on (I’m so “human” it’s really not even funny.) and I say, “Lydia. Shut up. Stop it. You know that’s wrong. Oh, you thought you were perfect? Nope, just look. Another thing to work on.” (I really do talk to myself this way, and often.) And then I try. I really do, to work on it, the increase my time in prayer, to focus more on God, and to see my life through Christ’s eyes. It rarely gets very far. I’m not all that great on self-discipline.
This past Friday (“It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get down on-” no? Alright, fine.) was out church’s monthly Pastor’s Council meeting, and as usual it met at our house, so my mom could make an extravagant Puerto Rican dinner for the people attending. There were a few people coming who were new to us- one couple had been briefly to out house in the summer for BBQ and the other man had never even see it. Anyway, there was a certain pressure for the house to look nice, for everything to be in tip-top condition, spiffy and as bacteria-free as possible. (Our house was built in the 1840s- there’s only so cob-web-free it’s ever going to be.) Emmy and I woke up early and instead of going to our schoolwork started immediately on the cleaning. It was mostly dusting, vacuuming, putting stuff on shelves, finishing the dishes, etc, but I do not exaggerate when I say that we worked, on our feet, the entire day. I mean from 7:30am to past 11:00pm that night, with two hours off for dinner and fellowship.
I scrubbed the pots,
I swept and vacuumed the floor,
I did the laundry,
I washed the doors and frames of hand-prints,
I put away books and stray toys,
I dusted tables, vases, tvs and even ceilings,
I washed the side of the fridge,
cleaned every inch of the main bathroom,
took out the trash,
and set the table.
Lastly, I tended the fire.
And to be honest, I didn’t get along with Mum all day, so the Cinderella vibe was intense (see why tending the fire was important to mention?). I was feeling used and exhausted, completely worn out- wiped. There was a problem, though. If I saw myself as Cinderella, where was the Prince? The ball? The fairy with a wand? Even the glass slippers weren’t to be found. I felt like I had the “Evil Step-Mother” thing going on, my hands were chapped and raw from hundreds of dishes, and I even had ash on my face and pants. So where was my happy ending?
I really started to get moody. (I do that a lot; this was nothing new, only it seemed justified.) I went in my room at midnight, when I was finally done working but should have been leaving a ball, and pulled out this very laptop. I went onto facebook and in 100 or so characters vented a bit to my friends, about feeling like Cinderella without the benefits. I honestly, sincerely felt that I had the right. I had slaved, ALL DAY, and for what? Mum thanked me, oblivious to the frustration she had caused me all day, and most of the dinner-guests left thinking that Mum was Superwoman, doing so much on her own. I had every reason to be fuming. In my room I sat with the laptop in front of me and sank into my pillows, crying. I was just flat-out exhausted.
Was this justified? The weariness, yes, I think so a little. I hadn’t even stopped for lunch. But the frustration, the anger? No, I don’t believe I was. (For the record- Mum wasn’t an angel exactly, but she was very stressed and I could have been more understanding. I certainly was no perfect peace-maker myself.)
What I was forgetting is that serving is supposed to be a joy. My “gift” is serving. I’ve always loved to do something for someone, help them with their kids, clean their house if they’re sick, cook a meal when they’ve had a baby. But that, while it blesses them, is easy for me. I get thanked, I get praised, I get the satisfaction of that person I served usually knowing who did it, and appreciating me. It makes me giddy to help someone in need. But what about when it’s helping my mom with a task she could NEVER do on her own? Everyone at the dinner party may not have known all that I did so that they would see a beautiful house and eat a delicious meal, but they would be blessed, wouldn’t they? And it would make my parents’ job of hosting new people at short notice that much pleasenter and easier. Besides, who am I really serving when I work?
Usually, myself. But the answer should be God. As I sat there thinking, a scripture came to me that I had learned in song-form as a child;
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24, New King James Version)
I couldn’t remember that and not be utterly ashamed of my selfishness. I was pathetic. When I work, it was supposed to be a joy. The Lord has equipped me with an ability and love for serving that should translate into a means of worship. I was serving Him when I worked hard to keep our home afloat. If everything I do is to God, and not to men, then how does Jesus feel about my incessant grumbling when I have to get my hands dirty? I should have been overjoyed to have been given a task with which to give service to Him.
Thinking about it in reference to that verse dumbfounded me. It was a much needed *smack* from God and I was so grateful. Suddenly I was ashamed and simultaneously gladdened. I fell asleep praying and crying out to God that he would forgive me and teach me to serve Him humbly and gratefully, and that I would learn to be more like His son, the perfect servant. I woke up the next morning eager to be of help to my parents, my siblings who didn’t feel well, and anyone else I could possibly come in contact with. I wanted, desperately, to “make-up” in a sense, for my pitiful existance the day before.
I kept thinking and another scripture came to me: “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10, English Standard Version) I felt that this was applicable, too. It’s really not about me. I am praying that it won’t wear off, but in the past two days since then, I am absolutely thrilled to serve, because it’s an act of worship.
Maybe I’m really simple. Maybe everyone else has already realized this years ago. But for me it was a fresh smack that I needed. My hope is that this is somehow an encouragement to you, as it was life-changing for me.
In Christ, Lydia 😉