There’s a routine that happens in our house several times every day – perhaps it looks similar at yours. It’s the washing and cleaning up after a meal. Most people don’t relish scraping lasagna off dinner plates, deciding which Rubbermaid container will hold the remains of the tossed salad, getting all the dishes into the already-full dishwasher or cleaning out the drips on the oven floor, but it all must be done. The blessing of these tasks at my house is that I never work alone. My thoughtful husband works alongside me until the towel is folded over the edge of the sink and the kitchen light is turned off. It sounds like a pleasant scene, doesn’t it? It truly is, and I try to thank my spouse often for his diligent efforts to help me with this daily chore.
But I haven’t always been the smiling spouse and happy housewife during this task. As ungrateful as it sounds, there have been times when I’ve corrected him for the way he was handling the dishes. He’s a big guy with big hands, and my dishes have often cringed under the force of being picked up or set down in a not-so-gentle way.
Of course, it was my duty to tell him, right?
Only if I wanted to crush his spirit about helping, when he could have been off doing any number of far more important things than washing my “riches.”
Only if I wanted to hush the chatter we had been having while we worked side by side in our sudsy love.
Only if I wanted to make him feel like my son instead of my husband, my leader, the head of our home, and the provider of the very home in which we were working.
Only if I valued my possessions more than a happy marriage.
But I did it and I regretted it. I confessed it to my God and to my hard-working, strong husband.
I decided after that that it was far better to work together, each of us happily humming, talking, teasing, laughing, and loving, than to be doing this triple-day duty by myself just so I could keep my dishes – my riches – without any nicks.
God knew I would need this reminder and He put it in the form of a proverb –
Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great riches and trouble therewith.
Yes, it’s better to have plates with a hairline crack, a bowl put in the wrong cupboard, or a set of eight glasses that only number seven now, than to have a perfect set of dishes without the comradery that happens when we work together with right hearts.
My dishes were my “riches” that proverbs mentions. What’s yours? What form of perfection or higher standard comes between accepting gracious help or refusing it? If your husband attempts to help you at home, do you appreciate his efforts, or do you demand perfection? Do you accept his help, or ask him to go do something else so the task will be done the way you want it accomplished? Maybe you need to remind yourself, as I had to do, of the blessing of a man who will be kind enough to offer a hand. Think about whether you’d rather be sitting at home alone with your “riches” around you, or living happily as one, with a little less “riches.”
I think many wives must come to grips with this truth. So, if this rings true in your heart, know that you’re not alone. Our sinful heart wants our way, instead of the wonder of a sweet marriage that comes when two people work together with happy hearts.
When it’s all said and done, what’s left of my dishes may only be chipped cups and splintered saucers, but if my heart is full of gratitude instead of grumbling, there will also be a whole lot of love that got splashed up in the soapy process.
That’s what I’m going for.
How about you? What are the “riches” that are causing you to be demanding and critical instead of thankful for your spouse? Ask God to help you exchange that criticism for gratefulness. Then smile while you sip your coffee from that chipped cup!