Eight o’clock on a Sunday evening. I haul the last basket of clean laundry up from the basement and drop it with a thud onto the family room carpet. Then I stare at it a moment before I grab a sock and dig for its match.
In the last 14 hours I’ve wrestled four arms and feet into church clothes, play clothes, the bathtub and bed; cooked and cleaned three meals, two snacks, six spills and four ice cream cones; washed, dried, folded and put away seven loads of laundry; trucked to the grocery store, the gas station, the Dollar Store and Target; and mediated at least a dozen sibling squabbles while sorting LEGOS and sweeping chunks of dried Play-Doh off the kitchen floor.
This is my Sabbath Day.
Funny—it looks a lot different from my husband’s.
Because while I’ve been busting my housewife behind, he’s been lounging on the couch watching baseball. Reading the newspaper. Eating chips and checking e-mail.
And as I reach for the very last pair of underwear in the bottom of the laundry basket, he peels his eyes from the TV to glance at me and says—“Do you need any help?”
Do. I. Need. HELP?? Why, yes, sweet husband. Thanks for asking. I do need some help, actually. I need help understanding why you get to nap in a chair while I chop onions for your dinner. And then I need everyone in this family to stop wearing underwear so that I . . . don’t . . . have . . . to . . . WASH IT ANYMOOOOOOORE!!!
Recognize this lady? She’s not the wife or the mom. She’s the maid. And she isn’t just worn out—she’s steaming mad.
Because she works hard for her family and feels underpaid. She wants a break and doesn’t take one—even when everybody else does—because sometimes the laundry just needs to get done. And the poor old gal is sick and tired of sorting t-shirts and spreading peanut butter while the world spins on without her.
But then. I snatch that last laundry basket and huff toward the basement stairs. Through the kitchen. Past the refrigerator—where my eyes catch a wrinkled sheet of printer paper, tacked above the ice dispenser with a blue alphabet magnet. It highlights these words:
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality,” (Romans 12:9–13).
I stuck these verses to the fridge months ago when I was struggling with something totally unrelated to housework. It was the “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction” part that spoke to me then. But now the entire passage takes on a whole new meaning. Be devoted to one another . . . honor one another above yourselves . . . serving the Lord . . . practice hospitality.
In my Bible, the heading of this passage is “Love in Action.” And who do I love best?
I’ve been looking at my husband all wrong. I’m not his maid. I’m the love of his life. And love shows itself through action. Through serving and sacrifice. Through dishes and sweeping and cooking and laundry.
Do you see your housework that way? Maybe it’s not a chore so much as an expression of affection for the people we serve. And if that’s the case, no mound of underwear could possibly be tall enough to demonstrate my love for the man who sits on the couch while I fold his drawers.
Yes, sometimes I’d like him to pitch in more. And quite frankly, he wishes I’d chill out. Because then maybe I’d notice that between rest stops, my husband mowed the lawn. He grilled the chicken. He fixed the clog in the sink. He does his fair share. He’s just better at relaxing than I am.
So next Sunday, I’m going to take a cue from my hubby and join him on the couch for the ball game. I’ll bring him a bag of chips and a basket of my socks—which he can fold.
Because he looooves me. Right, babe?