One day this summer I said to my son, “What on earth makes you think I’m even going to consider getting you that video game when you don’t value the ones I’ve already given you?”
Well… you know how sometimes words barked at your children while compassionately child rearing can haunt you in a very personal way? Let’s just say Casper the Friendly Ghost has nothing on this girl’s word selection.
During what seemed like an abnormally long summer, I found myself more saddened than the bottom of a cup of coffee truly warrants. Normally my cup of joe was my faithful compadre and secret weapon, but now I felt that even this one “perk” (pun intended), had let me down. I had the blues and I had ‘em pretty bad. And you know it’s bad when you only tell 1 or 2 people because you are so embarrassed by how you have allowed the train to run off the tracks. My slimy pit was edging its way comfortably into the double digits of days surrendered with barely a fight and not nearly enough toothpaste. And much like my son’s cavalier attitude about $50 video games, befuddled as to why we didn’t want to flush more money down the toilet, I wasn’t looking at what I had and praising God. I was looking at a half empty glass, crying in it, wearing sweatpants, no makeup and slouching around the house down and in (“down and in” because venturing “out” sounded like climbing Mt. Everest).
I can’t say for sure, but perhaps it was the Holy Spirit that whispered the creative idea that I could try to praise my way out of this depression? I already had my gratitude journal, but maybe more deliberate appreciation throughout the sadder moments would have a powerful impact? Then I could share more and more gratitude in giving glory to Him and less and less grumbling – and this bout with the blues would be won!
Well, I’ve always said that God has a sense of humor. This bright idea illuminated the area above my noggin at precisely the time that I could no longer bear watching the 5 children undo the work my cleaning lady was doing while still in our home. It was kind of like a cartoon (typhoon following the cleaning lady). So I’m sure it was pretty funny… if you weren’t the mom/one paying the cleaning lady.
Then it hit me! I could clean my home and praise God for our floor, our kitchen, our coffee maker, our his and her sinks, our walk in closet, and all the other stuff that if I paused to think about, were HUGE blessings to me and to our family.
Now I recall that when Mary Tyler Moore’s character was upset, worked out her emotional eruption through cleaning. Wow! I never thought of that. If I’m upset, there’s a good chance chocolate’s going to get in on the act, but Pledge has never once made an appearance.
Week One was aces! I was trying to demonstrate to God I was listening to the sermons I’ve heard and even quoting (to the best of my ability) scripture. As I scrubbed the bathroom tile floor I took the focus off of my disappointments and onto the fact that we have a home in a great neighborhood where our children can ride their bikes and play with their friends all in the safety net of the cul-de-sac God gifted us. As I polished the counter in my kitchen, I thanked Him for a love of cooking and a family to feed new and exciting culinary creations. Sometimes I put on praise music and hummed as I dusted and my sights were set on Him and the work felt lighter. It actually was somewhat therapeutic at first. I found myself appreciating our home (and our cleaning lady) in a way that I could not have achieved any other way.
But then those meddling kids…I thought I was irritated when I watched them undo work I was paying for before my eyes. But then my “praising cleaning lady” persona emitted unholy puffs of smoke out of each ear as they ruthlessly cut a path through my dusting, vacuuming and Windexing. How did they not know they were erasing my goodwill and gratitude? My noble intentions vanished and let’s just say my colorful vocabulary wasn’t exactly full of praise and gratitude. I was ashamed at how angry I could get about streaks on a mirror, or fingerprints on glass doors. I realized what a good deal it was to pay someone else to accomplish this feat and how good God was to afford me that luxury.
I’ll tell you, I’m glad I did this exercise. I would encourage you to give it a go. Four weeks and counting of praise really did shake me out of the funk I was in. I have appreciated my house in a whole new way and have had moments that hinted at genius on how to do things better within it. I even found I have favorite cleaning smells. This initiative to worship while I worked helped me in some small way grow. So Lord, I thank You for that chance to praise You, as You saved me all over again by grabbing my hand and helping me out of my pit. You truly are the Good Shepherd, always rescuing Your lost sheep.