Throughout college as I was writing papers on Ancient Near Eastern History and learning how to read the Bible in the original Hebrew (yeah – I was a double major – History and Biblical Studies and loved every minute of it), it was easy to feel like I was spending my time on extremely worthwhile things.
After college, I worked full time and had dreams of getting my masters degree (I still do for that matter) and it was easy to feel like I was contributing to my family by bringing in an income when we really needed it.
Now? My days are spent changing poopy diapers (which amounts to a LOT with three in diapers), the endless cycle of meal prep, cleaning dishes, putting up a new load of laundry, folding that laundry, putting it away and starting all these processes over and over again.
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It’s so easy to head to bed each night, feeling defeated, overwhelmed, and NOT looking forward to tomorrow. Somewhere along the line, it became easy to forget the importance of what I do. Somewhere amidst the poopy diapers and the mile high pile of dishes…it became easy to feel like nothing I do is of much consequence.
I think a lot of us struggle with these feelings from time to time. But we don’t want to voice them because then maybe it will look like we are not “good” mothers or “good” homemakers or we are not grateful for all that God gives.
This week I got a question that really touched my heart. And I decided that I needed to address it, in two parts in fact. Here’s what this sweet mama said,
“Jami, I’ve really been struggling with something lately, and was hoping you’d have some advice for me. Lately, I’ve been so tired. Just tired of the everyday. I get up and feed the kids, then the baby, then do laundry, dishes, a bit of school work, change diapers, feed everyone lunch, and so on and so on. It feels like 80% of my time is spent dealing with feeding my family whether it’s prep, cooking, eating with them, or cleaning up afterwards. I go to bed dreading the next day because I think “I have to get up in 7 hours just to do all this again”. Seriously, I am missing the point here. I don’t feel like I am doing important work, and when I consider the possibility that what I’m doing is important, I don’t think I’m doing it right. I mean most days I’m lucky if I get any work done at all or the kids get a bath that night. Sometimes it’s several days before they get another one. I know that’s not super important but I think it get the point across a bit more. If this all makes sense, please help me see the point or bigger picture in all this drudgery!”
She posted this question in a private group of mine and within minutes, several other women were commenting “following” or “I struggle with this same thing!” You see – my friend struck a nerve. So many of us feel this all the time or in certain seasons and it can be easy to fell alone and lost in it.
Next week I am going to address the first part of her question – the physical parts of working around the house, getting some momentum and inspiration, investing in yourself and more. But first, I knew I had to address the real root of the problem….
What to do when…
Your Work doesn’t feel worthwhile or important!
I know how debilitating it can be when we feel useless. We don’t greet our day with joy or enthusiasm when it feels like nothing we do matters. It’s easy to feel stuck and to dread the start of yet another un-meaningful day.
So what do we do when we have these feelings?
Our Ultimate Purpose
First, as believers we have to think about what our ultimate purpose is. Why has God placed us on Earth? What purpose do we fulfill?
To put it simply: The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Our purpose as Christians is of course more complicated than that, but it boils down to designing our life and our actions so that they bring glory and honor to God and learning how to draw closer to Him and enjoying Him.
So with that in mind, how do we bring glory to God? In talking about figuring out how to spend our time, Tim Challies says,
“Q1: Ultimately, why did God create you?
A: God Created me to bring glory to him.
Q2: How can you glorify God in your day-to-day life?
A: I can glorify God in my day-to-day life by doing good works.
Jesus answered this question when he said, “Let your light shine above others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Your good works are like a light, and when that light shines, it illuminates God. When people see that light, they aren’t meant to look at you and say, “He’s incredible” or “She’s amazing.” They are meant to look at God and say, “He is awesome.”
You do not glorify God only when you talk about him, or share his gospel with other people, or stand with hands raised in public worship. Those are all good actions, but they are not the only means through which you can bring glory to God. Far from it. You glorify God when you do good works. The apostle Peter wrote, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12). Your good works make God look great before a watching world.” – Do More Better by Tim Challies
Finding Meaning in Our Work
Each of us desires to find more meaning in our work. We want to feel like what we are doing is making a difference and having an impact. When we view our work as unto the Lord, it turns into service…even those poopy diapers and the endless laundry.
“A job is a vocation only if someone else calls you to do it for them rather than for yourself. And so our work can be a calling only if it is reimagined as a mission of service to something beyond merely our own interests. Thinking of work mainly as a means of self-fulfillment and self-realization slowly crushes a person.” – Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller
We have to learn to look beyond the scope of right now, right here. We have to learn to think with an eternal perspective. Yes, right now, right here, all these little things don’t seem to matter. But when you pile these little tasks up into all the moments we’ve spent serving the Lord by serving our family, you end up with a life spent in service to God…and bringing glory to Him!
“Everyone will be forgotten, nothing we do will make any difference, and all good endeavors, even the best, will come to naught.
“Unless there is God. If the God of the Bible exists, and there is a True Reality beneath and behind this one, and this life is not the only life, then every good endeavor, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever.” –Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller
Working with Eternal Significance
I know it doesn’t feel like it sometimes, but the work you do within your home does have eternal significance. Our days feel mundane. Overwhelming. Boring. Insignificant.
It might feel like we were spending our time “well” if we were out running an oversees ministry to help orphans. Or working as a CEO of a huge company and using that money to help others in our community. Or at least if we could do something that stayed DONE. Every time I turn around, something I worked so hard and long on is undone and needs to be done AGAIN.
“When your eyes are fixed on the horizon of eternity, it affects your vision for motherhood. We need to have eyes to see a view of God that is so big and so glorious that it transforms our perspective of motherhood. In the context of eternity, where Christ is doing his work of reigning over the cosmos, we need to see our mundane moments for what they really are – worship. In the daily (and nightly) work of mothering, we’re given dozens of invitations to worship God as he reminds us of the hope we have because of the gospel. My prayer is that you would see that the gospel is good news for mothers, not just on our ‘born again birthday.’ but every single day.” – Treasuring Christ by Gloria Furman
Focusing on the Gospel Puts Things Into Perspective:
“The gospel, however, is not a matter of personal preference; it is news that is a matter of spiritual life and death. The gospel can shape our home as we mothers realize that we will not always meet the standards of excellence that we desire. If we want to give grace to our children, then we must be willing to receive it first from God. We tend to wallow in shame or scoff in cynicism over our inability to keep our hands out of the proverbial cookie dough. At some point, we will fail, and sometimes we will fall hard. Then we must boast in the gospel, because in it God mercifully gives us Christ to be our valued treasure. Things like “mommy guilt” cannot crush us because Christ was crushed on the cross in our stead. Jesus is our consistency; he fulfilled God’s highest expectations of perfection, and in him all the promises of God find their Yes (2 Cor. 1:20). In him we find mercy in our time of need – which is always.” – Treasuring Christ by Gloria Furman
What does it mean to be productive?
We all want to be productive right? We want to get things done, move through our to-do list and feel fulfilled at the end of the day. So what does it mean to be productive?
“Q6: What is productivity?
A: Productivity is effectively stewarding my gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.
Now we come to it: What is productivity? Productivity is effectively stewarding your gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God. Productivity calls you to direct your whole life at this great goal of brining glory to God by doing good for others. This call involves using your gifts, the spiritual gifts you were given when the Lord saved you; it involves deploying your talents, those areas of natural strength; it involves managing your time, those 24 hours God gives you each day; it involved making use of your energy, the strength or vitality that ebbs and flows through the day and the week; and it even involves your enthusiasm, the passion and interest you can bring to those works you love to do. God calls you to take all of that and to apply it carefully, faithfully, and consistently to the great goal of doing good to others.” – Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller
Later this week we will discuss the other side of this topic: the physical aspects of feeling burnt-out and overwhelmed! We will be discussing things like meal planning, how to cut down time in the kitchen, how to fill up your own tank and more! Make sure to join us for that episode 🙂