It was one morning last week that I posted this photo of my messy kitchen before Bella and I dove in and conquered the mess. We scrubbed and made bubbles and talked about horses and about the right way to load the silverware. I like sharing my messes on social media. It's so anti-Instagram right now. Most of what I see being popular online is perfection- perfect hair, stylish clothes, moms with perfect bodies, neat and perfectly decorated homes. I appreciate beauty and a great photograph, but there's something wrong when we stop being real with one another. Sometimes life gets messy, and I have no problem sharing that with my followers.
Once the kitchen was clean, I got the kids down for naps and sat down to check my Facebook page, where I saw a negative comment (something I'm learning to get used to).
"I would never let my kitchen get that bad. Yikes."
I'll spare you my knee-jerk reaction (I'm sure you can imagine), but I ended up doing what has proven to be the best method over the course of my time as a blogger-- silence and a prayer. As much as I wanted to respond (and I certainly didn't lack the words), I knew it wasn't what this woman needed. Whoever she was- a wife, a stay-at-home mom, working mom, whatever- I prayed that she would learn grace. Grace for others, so that she would no longer attempt to shame others with comments like this one, and grace for herself, that she would learn what's really important; and it certainly isn't a clean kitchen.
What she didn't know is why my kitchen was so messy. She didn't know that the day before had been one of baking cookies, playing in the backyard, reading endless stacks of books, and driving with the windows down. It had been a day of playing with my children rather than sending them to play while I cleaned up the kitchen. I (normally) rinse the dishes and pick up my house as I go through the day, and load the dishwasher before I head to bed every night. But that day? That day I saw an opportunity to say "no" to mundane and "yes" to joy and childhood memories.
It wasn't out of laziness that the crusty dishes gathered, but out of a Spirit-led choice to live this blessed, fleeting day I had been given as a gift.
As the fun and laughter turned to yawns and snuggling, the day came to a slow, and I tucked my littles into their beds just as my tired husband walked in the door. As I warmed up his dinner and listened to him summarize his work day, I saw another opportunity to love and serve in my home. Again the Spirit led me away from my chores to my hard-working husband who had had a bad day at work. Rather than let him eat dinner at the table while I cleaned up from a day spent outside with my kids, I sat and listened and encouraged him. Through our dinner conversation I saw that he needed his wife- he missed me. What a huge honor and blessing that is- for him to actually miss me after ten years of togetherness and three kids! We added his dishes to the mess and enjoyed a movie on the couch, exchanging glances, laughs, and kisses until I fell asleep in his arms.
You can bet your last dollar that I will "let my kitchen get that bad" when there is an opportunity to enjoy and to breathe life into my family. I don’t stay home to keep a clean house. I stay home to cultivate love and grace and Jesus in my family, and serving them through homemaking is a part of that, but not the top priority. Look how many precious memories would never have come into existence if my kitchen had been cleaned.
That would have been an absolute pity, and the poorest use of my time I can think of.