By Lydia Jentzen Will
My Mama used to tell me that God was a God of order, sending me up to clean up that cluttered bedroom I shared with my older sister. Christ lowered himself to our filthy level and gave the menial meaning. Sitting and talking to a woman at the well. Healing lepers with a bit of spit and dust. Building a fire on a beach. God got down and dirty with us and that’s how I know, today when I’m wiping the grease spatters forgotten after Sunday’s bacon at breakfast. Sometimes work is just boring, small, mundane.
Menial tasks are just that…menial. We’re all in this race to convince ourselves and others that what we does has weight, importance, that we’re worth more money or higher prestige. But when we try to crown ourselves queens of domesticity and clamor loud at which job is really the toughest, we miss it – the glimpse of holiness in daily life. There’s that human urge to puff up and tout our importance. Mothering becomes “The most important job in the world.” We cringe at being called “just” a housewife because there’s nothing “just” about what we do, thank you very much. But sometimes I wonder…just what it is we are giving up when we refuse to humble ourselves and embrace the smallness of the things we do.
Holiness isn’t something you can do, make or manufacture. Holiness is something you become through His sanctifying love. It’s not an achievement unlockable by any human striving. It’s a gift, a purpose, given to those who open their lives to His will.
Holiness is something you become through His sanctifying love.
There are days we shine His light by making everything clean and bright and emulating His order in our crazy chaos. But sometimes, sometimes I’m at my best Christ-following when I’m scrubbing dirty garden feet of a half dozen kids, changing diapers dawn til dusk and mopping up spilled milk for the third time today. These tasks are dirty. They require little thought, no talent. They are base, mundane, unsophisticated chores.
A friend asked me recently where I thought the bar was when asking for prayer. Is it an emergency situation? Possible death and devastation? Is there ever a time when you should just get over it because others have it so much worse, you know. It seems we can think that even our prayers need to be important enough. But God says pray without ceasing. To cast it all on Him. There is nothing too small for Him to notice, no petition less worthy of His attention. We sell ourselves short when we fail to see that small things matter. It’s not the job that matters. It’s us.
We sell ourselves short when we fail to see that small things matter.
I’m just a wife. Just a mother and, yes, I do menial work. Humble work. Unsophisticated work. I make food and clean it up. I clean dirty laundry and put it away. I fill sippie cups and wipe spills. I change diapers. Some days I can make things a little brighter and go the extra mile, but quite a bit of the time? I’m doing what few would aspire to. Small things. Dirty things. Gross things. Certainly nothing that’s going to land me on a list of most successful people my age.
God came to people He made from dust on the very first day. We’ve not managed to crawl far from there still. Jesus washed filthy feet and took on all sin ever before and ever since. No matter is too small for his heart to hold. No chore too unimportant for Him to meet us in. No person inconsequential.
It’s not ever the greatness of the task or how impressive the resume that defines worth. It’s alright to admit when these things are small – because that has never been the point.
No matter the job, scale or impact, worth is ever and only defined through the lens of love.
There’s purpose to this day. He has set us apart for a purpose and we take that purpose with us as we go about the work of real life. Submitting to the work He has set before us and knowing that, even when it appears unglamorous or anything but pristine, this is how He showers His blessings on the world. Through ordinary people doing ordinary things, His spirit flickering within. Not amid fanfare, but in quiet and humble spaces. Holiness is not about the majesty of high church moments. It’s about humble submission and a life of faith.
Holiness is not about the majesty of high church moments.
Rinsing out breakfast dishes isn’t hard, mentally stimulating or even a proper display of my abilities. But He can and does bless even this.