If you want to be challenged in the areas of patience and grace… Have another family move in with you. After about two and a half months, we are finally getting into a good routine, learning to better understand one another and becoming friends. The first few weeks however…
I am quite blessed, but it isn’t always easy to manage a home of seven; Eleven quite nearly sent me over the deep end. Don’t bring your white gloves over, but I think our home is fairly clean. What maybe is not always realized is that it takes work and intentionality to keep things neat and tidy around here. The cupboards stay white because I wipe off little fingerprints and splattered tomato sauce. The floors stay clean because we don’t wear shoes in the house and the kids keep food and drink in the kitchen and dining room. I scrub the bathrooms once a week, launder the towels, curtains and blankets as needed and toys all have a place (and that place isn’t on the living room floor). We use colors and play dough on the counter or table and I wash dishes after every meal.
When our household grew I expected everyone to take the same approach to cleaning and pretty much became a grumpy scrooge when my expectations were not met. Picking up dishes out of the living room, toys off of the floor and washing that much more in the kitchen did not come with patience and grace for me.
Additionally, the financial stress of such a large household was also getting to me. It took weeks to iron out our shopping arrangements and (him) and I were averaging $250 every Monday on groceries, which was killing us. For a while there, come mid week we were completely tapped out and I had little patience for the financial decisions that others were making.
As I sat talking and praying with a wise friend about my frustrations I realized that it had a lot more to do with me than anyone else. My words and attitude were far from graceful, and the more I thought and prayed about it I realized just how much my identity was wrapped up in an outward appearance (a struggle not unfamiliar to me). I do long to take care of the things that the Lord has blessed us with; to be good stewards of our time, talents, money and possessions… but I also want for anyone who comes into my home to see that it’s clean and that I am a worthy housewife. Having to decline and invitation because we are strict to our budget is OK, but having to decline because we literally don’t have a dollar to spend was embarrassing. When the finances or tidiness of the house is out of my control it feels like an attack on my worth… and that is simply a lie that I am working to overcome. Had I known God was going to use this as an opportunity to draw out my lack of patience and grace, I’m not sure I would have agreed to our current arrangements, though, I am thankful that He is great and cares enough to reveal my sin, challenge the source of my identity and lead me closer to Him.