by Melissa McDonald
I sat on my dirty kitchen floor scrubbing the latest crayon mural off the garbage can. My thoughts flitted between a beautiful wedding I witnessed a few days before, my own pre-marriage anticipation once upon a time, and my surprise that the brown scribbles came off easier than the blue ones. I thought about the way being a wife rarely looks like we envisioned at our bridal showers. As my friend remarked, “It turns out I’m not hosting weekly dinner parties.”
It was about four in the afternoon — the same afternoon with the garbage can mural and tissue incident and the napping battles and the, well, you get the idea — when I decided the fact that all my children still wearing their pajamas meant we’re ahead of schedule for bedtime.
But no matter how I explained it to myself, I still felt like I failed once again as a home manager. And it mattered. It mattered because God gave me this job and he calls me to faithfully serve him (1 Tim. 5:14; Titus 2:5). I’m not saying that I was looking for my worth in my performance. There are plenty of times I struggle with that, but this was different.
The Bible says,
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10).
It was the last part that I was struggling with: the truth that my salvation in Christ alone by faith alone is to blossom into good works that God has prepared for me to do by the same grace and power that saved me. And to be honest, if you looked around my house you would highly suspect that I had neglected the good work God gave me to do.
That afternoon God reminded me of something I learned once in business class. The manager’s job is to run the business in a way that furthers the interest of the owner. In that class we frequently discussed how to structure incentives to ensure that the manager runs the business for the owner’s interests and not his own.
I am the manager. God is the owner. I am tempted to manage my home in a way that makes me look good. God wants me to manage my home in a way that makes him look good—in a way that serves his interests.
Now, it’s easy to declare that the tasks God has given me, like getting my children dressed, are meaningless because of his unconditional love.
Yes, God loves me in a complete and glorious way that I cannot comprehend. And in the abundance of his love, God gives me grace to do good works and makes my mundane tasks more than meaningless. This physical world and the tasks of folding laundry and vacuuming the living room are not something separate from grace and knowing God. In the midst of our everyday lives is the very place we receive his grace to live in a way that reflects our Savior.
God gives us, as home managers, grace to actually manage our homes. It will not necessarily look the way the magazines tell us we ought to live, and certainly not for our own glory, but God’s grace empowers us to put aside our selfishness, pour out our lives disciple our children, and show hospitality for the gospel’s sake.
So I seek the Lord’s strength, “Help me get the crayon marks off the garbage can,” when I would rather check Facebook; “Help me cook dinner tonight,” when I would rather curl up on the couch with a good book; and “Help me be patient and consistent in training my children,” when I would rather just get something finished.
- Chapter Review: “Forever” and Parenting
- Shepherding a Bored Mom’s Heart
- How Eternity Shapes Our Mundane – an article on the Desiring God blog
- The Heart of Homemaking
ABOUT THE WRITER
Melissa McDonald (@melissabmcd) and her husband Eric serve and disciple international students at The University of Iowa with their two daughters, Miriam and Annette. Melissa blogs at The Cross and the Kitchen Sink and has written the Bible study guide: To Live Valiantly: A study on the Proverbs 31 Woman.