Monday, November 2, 2009

Joy in Dishes: Finding Peace in the Necessary Luxuries

For years I viewed doing the dishes as a monotonous, endless task that only existed to annoy me. I would drag my feet, avoid, ignore, and curse the pile that would miraculously appear as soon as I turned my back. But about a month ago, I was given a lesson that made me realize that I had a needlessly terrible attitude toward something that was really a necessary luxury.

What do I mean by this? Well, one night as I stood over the sink, pruning fingers and all, I began to imagine something quite disparate from anything my mind had ever wondered to before. It seemed as if a chain of images simply materialized from the warm air about me. I visualized the young men, women, and even children of countries very different from our own. In them, I saw The Congo, The Dominican Republic, and Haiti. I saw all their people, thin and tired, carrying their wares atop their heads down to a muddy trickle of a stream. Their hands were rough and their feet looked worn. They worked and scrubbed for a long, long time, but their plates still weren’t the kind of clean we’d call sanitary. Once they were done, they repeated their long journey back to their village where they’d sleep upon the ground or on a rickety cot. Taken in by the images, I froze in mid-stroke, a soapy sponge in one hand and a fine, white saucer in the other. I felt a welling of shame at the pit of my stomach. It gnawed at my insides. Here I was, safe inside my home, soft hands, clean feet, and an abundance of beautiful dishes, and I wasn’t even joyful. Rather than finding thankfulness in each swipe of the sudsy sponge, I was busy counting down the minutes until the task would be done. Instead of reflecting on all I had, I was focusing on my mildly-aching back and feet. My attitude was downright pitiable at a moment when other people a whole continent away were finding joy in the littlest of places and exhorting a brother or sister as they found strength to trek across their land to a little stream.

It’s a simple lesson really. God was trying to show me something, and he’s pretty forward if you’ll listen. We are all given a wealth of blessings and some of them are necessary luxuries, like doing the dishes, folding the laundry, washing our cars, and weeding our gardens. We’ve all been blessed with dishes, clothes, vehicles, and gardens. We’ve been blessed with families, friends, homes and many, many other lovely things. Yet, most of us don’t see the trees from the forest in the grind of our daily lives. We look right through it because we are too busy staring into the eyes of ungratefulness or the face of weariness.

The next time you find it impossible to have a good attitude amongst the daily tasks of life, love, and parenthood, take time to visualize the people who have far less than you. Next time you do the dishes, walk the dog, or pick up after your messy family, take a moment to find joyfulness in these necessary luxuries because it’s a miracle we have them at all.


  1. Oh, thank you! I am so glad you are reading my stuff. ;) Can't wait to see you in December. xoxo.

  2. Thanks for the reminder of just how blessed we are with the modern conveniences in developed countries! T.P.

  3. Sorry, it's taken me so long to get to this! We really do forget how much of our everyday lives are pure luxury. Just this morning my mom and I had to make a trip to Best Buy to get a new power cord for my laptop. It seemed so simple to get in our car, drive to Best Buy, spend $80, plug it in and connect to the internet. $80 could have bought one of those families you imagined food and clothing to last for a good while.

  4. Thanks for the response. It is so amazing how we are overwhelmed by blessings and luxuries, yet struggle to be happy in the midst of it all. As soon as I start to get a bad attitude about working and chores, I stop and remind myself of this very post and my experience. ;) I hope everyday I get better and better at being thankful.


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