Dishes, Lesson #4

Last December, a miracle happened: My mother came to visit me in Uganda for a month.

For a full month she did my dishes.  I didn’t wash a single one.

It was heavenly.

I hate doing dishes.  I mean….I think it is because it is an endless task.  (Yet, somehow I do not mind washing other peoples’ dishes at their homes at all….mysterious of life.)

When I lived in the USA, I used to say if it can’t go in the dishwasher, then I don’t want it!  In fact, some things that most of you would not put in the dishwasher, I did.  I felt it was worth the risk.

I no longer have the luxury of a dishwasher…Unless you count the two little boys in my  home, but they really are not that great at it, as we explored in Dishes, Lesson #3.

But recently, in my hatred for doing dishes, I was reminded of something that happened a couple of years ago.

I used to work with a ministry that was dedicated to discipling young adults over a six month period.  In those six months, we had serious expectations for their growth in faith, character, and leadership.  Yet, at one point, as I was expecting so much from my students, I realized that I was not actually expecting any growth in myself.

Conviction.

At the time, I was specifically convicted in the area of patience.  I would find myself easily and often claiming to be impatient.  But as I reflected on it, I realized that such a claim is not really acceptable for a child of God.  You see, we have the Holy Spirit inside of us.  And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness…..

I shouldn’t see it as acceptable to say I am an impatient person, and be content with that reality.  Instead, I needed to claim the work and presence of the Holy Spirit in me, and intentionally develop the fruit of patience.

So, I got serious about it.  I even downloaded (and read) a book on the topic.  I intentionally worked to overcome my complacency on the issue.

Don’t get me wrong….I don’t think that many people would offer up the word patient when asked to describe me.  However, I have made some serious progress in the area.  Or should I say that the Spirit has made some serious progress within me.

Not long ago, when looking at my growing stacks of dirty plates, silverware, saucepans, cutting boards, cups, and more, I was reminded of that journey with patience.

I decided that I needed to change my attitude of hatred towards dishes.

They weren’t going away.  I would face them every day.  Multiple times a day.

I could choose to remain hating them, and having a perpetual bad attitude for the rest of my life (ok, so sometimes I’m a little overdramatic).

Or I could decide to stop hating them and just accept them as a regular part of life.  And therefore, have less internal negativity.

So there I am, a recovering hater-of-doing-dishes.  It’s amazing the difference such a decision can make.  I’ve really seen a different attitude about it developing within me.  Admittedly, some days are harder than others…especially when I find myself doing a lot of baking.  But I regularly remind myself when I approach the sink, that I have decided not to hate it anymore.  I’ve decided to accept this simple, mundane, repetitive task.  Maybe some day I will even genuinely like it.  Maybe I will develop the habit of prayer while scrubbing each item.  I mean, sometimes I listen to a sermon while I wash them.

But as I type, it’s got me thinking a little deeper….

What other negative attitudes do I have that I need to actively work to eliminate?  Are there other things in my life, things that may be a bit more serious than dirty dishes, which need to be intentionally attacked?  Like my impatience?

Of course I know the answer is yes. Maybe I need to take some time to identify some of them and work towards a plan to get rid of them.  And in turn, develop more resilient fruit of the Spirit.

What about you….want to join me in this journey of eliminating some things?

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.  Ephesians 4:22-24

 

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Dishes, Lesson #3

In Dishes, Lesson #2, I mentioned that if a child washes the dishes poorly I can just rewash them.

Well, a child recently washed the dishes.

These are the ones I needed to rewash.

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I did put a few away that I determined could be considered clean.

Now, some of these dishes were not so bad.  In fact, if I hadn’t been scrutinizing each item, some may have slipped past me with their slight dirtiness.

But some were obvious.  Tomato sauce all over the bottom of a plate.  Butter still smeared on a knife.  Porridge stuck in the bottom of a cup.  Fingerprints on a measuring cup.

It’s as if he just got them wet, then set them in the drying rack.  Blindly.

After piling up the utensils that needed my attention, and as I began to wipe them with a soapy dishcloth, I was battling with frustration.  I mean, this is not his first time with this chore.  He knows how to do it properly.  He has washed dishes well in the past.

But as I rinsed now-clean plates, I had to let my frustration slip away.

How many times does God see me doing things that are not good, right, pure…clean?  How many times have I done something, even thinking it was ok, but on closer inspection would be deemed unworthy?  How many times have I left Him downright filthy messes?  (As if I am blind to the sin I’m entangled in…)

Yet, how many times has He taken me in His hands, yet again?  How many times has He pointed out the little things that He wants me to work on to be even better?  How many times has He forgiven me for my rebellion and patiently restored me?

And how many times will He continue to do it?

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
    slow to anger and rich in love.

The Lord is good to all;
    he has compassion on all he has made.

Psalm 145:8-9