I read this beautiful blog post today and something in me clicked.
“Every day I have this desire to accomplish something. But every day it feels I accomplish nothing. I try to clean something, but I don’t finish…. I try to write, but this little person cries for all of my attention when I sit at the computer. I clip coupons and price match, and still go way over on our budget. Agh. At the end of the day, there’s nothing to show for the last 9 hours of exhausting effort. Of doing what?”
“You kept me safe today Momma, you kept me alive. You kept me fed, and rested. You played with me, and made me laugh. Does that count Momma? Am I one of your goals Momma? Just to be together? Even if no one sees it? Or knows it?”
Even if no one sees it. Or knows it.
I realize now that I’m much too preoccupied with recognition. I’m ashamed of my home, of my days, of myself because it doesn’t look like I’ve been doing anything. In my mind and my heart, I live in a world in which the quality of the house reflects the quality of the person. My messy house screams, “Neglected! Lazy! Worthless!” I look around and chastise myself for not being capable of accomplishing the simplest of tasks, sweeping the floor, for instance. It’s always covered in…something. Yet I neglect to remind myself that that damned floor doesn’t reflect me. It isn’t me.
I’m so worried about my environment reflecting me and my daily activity that I fail to remember that this house is incapable of mirroring us and the depth of what we do. My filthy floor is covered in baby food puffs because I’m exhausted from rocking that baby through his nightmarish bout of teething. My floor is covered with books because we read. None of our clothes are folded because we had to play dress up and somebody bonked her head and the kitchen is a mess because everybody got to crack eggs today. The table is sticky because I didn’t manage to wipe up all the spilled milk because after the third time the cup got knocked over I honestly stopped caring.
If you walked into my home you’d see an episode of Hoarders waiting to happen. But my days are full of love and effort and sacrifice and tears and just hanging on by a thread because three babies under age four is hard. You might not recognize all of that through the piles of laundry and that dining room chair that’s still in the living room from the fort two we built weeks ago. And I need to be okay with that.
“Do you remember when I said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me?” (Matt. 25:40) “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward?” (Matt. 10:42) Do you not see it here Child?
All these days you live at home to serve this fragile girl, what you really are doing is serving Me. For whatever you do unto her, you do unto Me. So let me ask you:
Am I enough?
What is My worth to you? In the secret places, where no one sees? Look deeper Dear One.”
No one sees. No one recognizes. I’m not getting credit. I’m not being graded. I’m doing Christ’s work, being the hands and feet for these little ones.
But I’m failing and I’m trying and I’m realizing that I’m addicted to recognition. I crave the credit and I’m ashamed when I’m not producing a readily tangible finished product at the end of my day. But the thing about children is, they’re not a floor to be scrubbed or a sink to be rinsed. They’re souls to be cherished and nurtured and respected.
Henri JM Nouwen said,
“We are not what we do. We are not what we have. We are not what others think of us. Coming home is claiming the truth: I am the Beloved Child of the Creator.”
It’s time to let go of that desire to be recognized, that deep seated longing for approval. It’s time to come home, even if that home has messy floors and unwashed hair and is wearing the sweatpants from yesterday and the day before. Because if I can claim the truth of being the Beloved, I can love these three little souls wildly, which is what I was called to in the first place, clean floor or not.