I'm a big fan of the Counting the Cost newsletter, which I've mentioned here before. In the most recent issue, this feature article really spoke to me. I contacted the author (and CtC founder) Nancy Twigg, and she graciously gave me permission to re-print her article. Enjoy!
“I’m doing the best that I can.”
If you could step inside my head and listen to all that goes on there, you’d probably hear me say this catch phrase a hundred times a day. I say it to myself quite frequently when things around my home are not as I would like them to be:
* When dirty dishes are stacked like the Tower of Babel in my kitchen sink.
* When forgotten leftovers look like a penicillin farm growing in my fridge.
* When soap scum in the shower is so thick you could almost carve your name in it.
Don’t get me wrong. As a wife and mother, I want to keep my home neat and clean for my family, yet warm and welcoming for guests. I dream of having a home that is not only well-organized and tidy, but where chores get done in a timely manner and meals are always well-balanced and nutritionally sound.
I also dream of winning an all-expense paid tour of Europe, but that probably won’t happen anytime soon either!
Between working at home, homeschooling and having neighborhood children over to play almost every day, my house never gets a break. It is a center of constant activity and movement and sometimes even chaos. I envy women whose homes are exquisitely decorated and always spotless. My home could look like something out of a magazine too -- but only if we all moved out and found somewhere else to live!
I used to beat myself up: “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I make my house look like that?” I’d get so distracted by all I should be or could be doing that I couldn’t focus on what was most important. I vacillated between walking around like a zombie overwhelmed by all that needed to be done, and running around like a turkey with my tail feathers on fire trying to get it all done.
I used to, but I don’t now. Why? Because I learned the secret of staying focused in the middle of what feels like chaos. Here it is: “Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth” (Colossians 3:2, NLT). Or as another translation puts it, “Set your heart on what is in heaven…Think about what is up there, not about what is here on earth.”(Colossians 3:1-2, CEV)
God has given us mothers an awesome mission. Not to have a picture-perfect home. Not to cook meals that would wow a gourmet chef. Not to be organized to the Nth degree.
The responsibility He has entrusted to us is that of doing all we can to mold and shape our children into God-knowing, God-loving, God-serving adults. How can folding laundry and mopping floors compete with that?
Thinking about the things of heaven means having your head in the clouds in a good way. As you think about what’s up there -- God’s plans, His will, His work in the life of your family -- you see what’s down here from a whole new perspective. Thinking about what’s happening up there gives you God’s perspective on what’s happening down here.
Having a heavenly focus is like putting on your spiritual specs. Only then can you see clearly. Only then can you tune out the less important so you can tune into that which is most important. Only then can you look around at everything that is not the way you’d like it to be and say, “Good enough is good enough.”
I still dream of having a spotless home, but I don’t obsess over it and I certainly don’t beat myself up. I am hopeful, yet realistic. Rather than judging my effectiveness as a mother on how many dishes are in my sink or the state of my refrigerator, I can look around me with my heavenly focus and ask myself:
* Did I show my child today that I love her?
* Did I show her that God loves her even more than I do?
* Did I help her see how she can share God’s love with others?
If I do those things, I can rest in knowledge that I am truly doing the best that I can do.
**Copyright Nancy Twigg, 2007. Taken from a work-in-process collection of devotions for young mothers tentatively called, "Mommy Meltdown: Time-outs for Maxed-out Moms". Nancy is the author of several books and the editor of Counting the Cost Ezine.