Random Blog Clay Feet: November 26, 2010
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Friday, November 26, 2010

Washing Dishes With Gratitude

We are having a time of great interest right now in our lives, my wife and I. We don't know yet where it is leading us, but we sense that life is at a turning point and that quite likely it may look quite different very soon. But let me share how something little might reflect that something larger right now.

Because we had no children choose to come and spend the holiday weekend with us for Thanksgiving and had no invitations to spend the day with anyone, my wife called up a church in a nearby town to volunteer us to help out with their Thanksgiving day dinner offered for the public. We chose to arrive there not too long before they were to quit serving figuring that they would likely need more help cleaning up than serving.

Of course, when we arrived they wanted us to eat but we had just finished breakfast at home so declined the invitation, instead asking what we could do to help out. We knew no one there so we didn't really know how to fit in well, but we soon found a place at the washing sinks to relieve people better suited to do other jobs in the area. They had a very large sink well suited to washing the large cooking containers being used and then two more sinks next to that that we used for rinsing. I began washing whatever utensils were being dropped off and my wife started rinsing and drying them.

Given the ongoing nature of such a project, we spent the rest of the time there processing the containers and various utensils without any backup. From our corner of the kitchen we were also able to observe the interactions between the others and get a feel for the social network in place among these friends. Most of the lunch crowd had already finished when we arrived and so there was not a whole lot of activity going on except for a few meals being served and a number of take-outs made up for deliveries.

A half an hour before closing time even arrived it became clear that no one else was likely to show up and so they began putting everything away and cleaning out the big cookers. The servers were eager to go home after many hours of volunteering to leave the cleanup to whoever was left. We actually found it enjoyable to be able to efficiently and quickly clean all of the pots and utensils and dry them; it did not seem like a real burden for us. I noticed that my wife was often humming or singing some Thanksgiving song all through the time there which she enjoys doing this time of year.

As the staff dwindled down to just three or four and the decks were cleared, it was evident that there was a lot of mess around the counters and on the floor that no one was too interested in dealing with. I decided to wipe the decks clean and then located a mop and bucket in a nearby closet and thoroughly cleaned all the floor of the kitchen. I remembered with pride how well I had been trained as a teenager how to mop floors in the sanitarium that I worked in as a student by an old German lady who insisted on us doing an absolutely thorough and perfect job. She taught all of her students well and many of them later in life impressed many people as they demonstrated their ability and willingness to do an exceptional job handling a mop. It makes one feel good to know they can do a really good job when others are expecting far less and assume that this kind of work is to demeaning to enjoy.

As we left we were showered with appreciation but did not really make any social connections at all. I began to sense during that time that my own motives were not nearly so noble as my wife's and felt a bit ashamed of my selfishness and secret desires to get some benefit for myself out of this experience. I felt convicted that I need to learn to participate in acts of selfless kindness and generosity with no desire for personal gain as part of my training as a Christian. For too long I have focused on my own needs and how any situation might be used to profit me in some way. I have a long way to go to be free of this habit of looking out for myself first.

After we arrived back home, my wife shared something with me that really touched me. For the past several months, actually back in August, she was suddenly stricken with a severe condition of pain from bulging and ruptured discs in her lower back that left her crying in pain and lying on the couch 24/7 for nearly two months. Very slowly she has been recovering but it has been an intense time of reevaluation of priorities and heart searching to see how our relationship with God fits into all of this. Of course she had to quite her job and since I have had very little work myself our finances have been very if'y at best. We are finding ourselves forced by circumstances to seek to know much better how to live a life of faith rather than trusting in our own resources to take care of our needs.

Last night she shared with me that what was going through her mind as she was helping with the dishes at that church was a sense of extreme gratitude that she could actually once again stand there and do those dishes without the extreme pain that she has been experiencing for so long. She has recovered to the point now where by Thanksgiving day she was able to do this activity for several hours and not even need to rest or feel tempted to complain of the pain. For her, this was a wonderful cause for deep gratitude and she didn't even need to mention it to anyone else. She just chose to enjoy it and praise God for it from her heart.

God has given me a wonderful wife who is perfectly suited to meet many parts of me that are sadly lacking. She has been appointed by God to bring suggestions and promptings that, if I am humble enough and willing to pay attention, might save me a great deal of grief and problems. I am a slow learner in this area but am trying to practice being more sensitive and willing to listen and pay attention. I know that God designed each of us to be incomplete without a mate of the opposite sex designated by God to unite with us as a more perfect reflection of the wholeness of our Creator.

33 years ago today God sealed us into marriage. She was 18 and I was 22 and she felt like I had nearly robbed the cradle. She was shy and quiet and pretty and I still had enough hair at that time to be attractive. Within a couple years we had our first baby who is now a beautiful young woman with interest in a suitor for her affections. I pray that God will protect and guide her and that she will make Him the highest priority in all of her decisions. We later had a son, formed in our image just as God designed us to do, and now they both live at the other end of the country from us.

God is also very busy reeducating us in matters of the kingdom right now and we are seeking to cooperate with Him and be better students than we have been in the past. We are also coming much more into synchronization with each other's hearts more than ever in our union with each other and are finally beginning to experience a level of the love and respect we wish we could have learned long ago. But as the saying goes, 'Better late than never'.

We are thankful, but we desire to be much more thankful and have a more consistent attitude of gratitude all throughout the year. We are richly blessed with a house to live in, warmth in the growing cold, cars to drive, food to eat and love to share. We are blessed with friends who open their lives to share with us and who can challenge us to change when we need it sometimes. And most of all we are blessed with dramatic revelations over the past few months from various sources that God has brought to us concerning the real truth about God and how He really views us. We want to absorb and soak up these truths and allow them to wash our brains and our hearts of all the lies that have poisoned us for so long. It is time to live in the joy and freedom of real love for our Father in heaven and with each other.