How to Change the World by Scrubbing the Toilet


               I have lived a life in the past few years that has felt pulled in many different directions and has left me feeling like I'm constantly running behind.  I feel less like a shiny dime and more like a raggedy teddy bear that has been dropped in a mud puddle and is missing an eye.  I have a heart that wants to help people and I also have a huge list of things that just need to get done. 
                My husband and I have had a whole lot of life lived in just a few short years with the loss of both our fathers, my uncle and a small handful of other shattering illnesses and death and all the weariness and work that accompanies that path.  There have been times where it feels like all I have done with my life is show up like I have just walked out of a tornado.  Often from a tornado that has made me also very late.  But hello, I'm here!  I'm trying my very best to be present but this is my third event today and I still have laundry and dishes to do and I'm not sure if I will ever face any of this with a whole heart again.  And then I will wake up tomorrow and there will still be laundry and dishes to do.  And some days it will make me extra bananas crazy and my poor husband will lovingly, generously listen as I deliver a passionate soliloquy about how I'm made for more than scrubbing toilets...sigh. 

            I have a strange dichotomy in my head between sacred and secular work that isn't reality.  Reality is that everything is sacred work and I will argue all day that being a pastor isn't more holy than being in construction.  It is a change of scenery but each piece of the puzzle that we fill with the work of our lives is sacred if we choose to recognize it.  Except washing dishes.  That has to be secular.  I hate it too much for it to ever be holy.  But that's not truth either, so don't listen to me.    

            My uncle that I grew up next door to my whole life died suddenly just months after the death of my father.  In that strange sad time I found myself digging holes.  My heart was just scraps of itself, but still had a deep longing for meaning.  And sleep.  Though I always desire to be a "helper" to the people in my life, I didn't have much to offer on the speaking actual words that made sense front.  But my mom was in imminent need of a gate that required deep large holes for posts dug on one of the hottest days of the year.  Sign me up!  And then shortly after that a sweet friend lost a dear furbaby and needed a hole dug, but mostly someone to stand witness to her loss and be a warm hug.  The irony is that at one point in my life I could not lift a gallon of milk without completely wrecking my bad back.  Here I was digging holes big enough to stand in.  In the moments in life where my heart had nothing to offer, my old injured body stepped up and accomplished the sacred task of digging large holes.    

            I don't know about you, but when I look back at some of this life I think I should get an award for showing up to this circus.  Or at the very least a donut.  But then I also look back and though I know I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing it seems...not overly shiny and important.  It feels like I have some serious catching up to do in the "doing big things for God and being awesome" tally sheet.  But then there are dishes to be done and meals to be cooked and dog snot to clean off the walls.  There is hospitality to be shown and hands to hold and people to hug.  There are three more events to show up to on Saturday because it will mean something to someone that we came.  And then another week goes by and it's time to clean another toilet and I wonder if maybe I am made for this.  This is what God has for my life.  Sacred toilet scrubbage. 

            It dawned on me this week that about the bravest thing we can do with the time we have been given on this earth is be faithful with the minutes of it.  To be present in each one and do the work in front of us.  Not the work in front of someone else or the work we wish was in front of us but the actual thing that God has placed in our care at this hallowed instant.  It was my absolute honor to give my dad all of my effort in his last days on this earth.  I would do it over and over again without a thought. However it is not my honor to magic erase one more mystery goober off the wall or make one more plate of nachos.  But I need to ponder that some more, I think.    

            I wonder if the woman at the well felt that way as she gathered one more bucket of water in the heat of the day. Or if Peter and Andrew felt that way as they cast their nets out one more time for fish.  Or if the three disheartened women going about the business of dealing with death at the tomb of Jesus felt that way.  What about the mother who packed the lunch for her small boy whose willing heart was what Jesus used to feed the five thousand?  Or that precious little boy who just knew he was hungry but so was someone else? Clearly his mama taught him how to share (mamas represent!).  In each case these people were going about life being faithful with what was in front of them.  In each case, Jesus stepped into their world to the effect of, "Peter and Andrew, thou shall never scrape dried lasagna cheese off another plate again!"  No wait, that's for me.  He called each person in their moment of another tiny faithfulness and stepped them into a moment of destiny.  He didn't pull anyone from a world tour with their rock band or a speaking gig in an arena.  He tapped the shoulders of fishermen.  He sat down with a woman too embarrassed to get her water when all the other women in her village did.  He used a small boy who believed in generosity when a field full of grown men didn't.  He took three beautiful faithful women who followed him even to cliff edge of death and gave them the most glorious job of a lifetime.

            The glory, honor and beauty of our lives is a tapestry woven from individual, minute threads of showing up, day after day.  Every moment we are present and willing to put our shoulder down into the work we have been blessed to be able to do we spin a tiny thread of faithfulness.  Each time we love the precious people in front of us well, we add a strand.  You see this in the lives of people that have spun great time and care into weaving each piece into a beautiful vibrant fabric of who they are.  Faithfulness over a lifetime has a certain...glow, a swag.  These are the people who love others well, who practice hospitality, who read stories to children as if it is the first time, who find meaning in sweeping the church parking lot.  These are the precious people who make you feel like you are the most interesting, important person in the room.  These are the people who teach us how beautiful the mundane is if we choose it to be.  We have to treat the moment we are in with honor instead of waiting for our big break to be the person we think we should be. 

            So maybe God will call my name and say, "Here is your arena.  Make it a good show!" or maybe God will call my name and say, "Here is your toilet. Scrub it well!" but either way, God has called me. Praise! Either way if I do small things with great love I live in the miracle of being part of God's unfathomable plan for this earth.  If I hold one hand in a time of need, or one thousand or if my generosity feeds five mouths or five thousand, I have said yes in faith to till the soil in my garden.  Whatever the size it ends up being and whether it grows the cure for cancer or squash, it is the soil in front of me and I will be faithful with each small bit of it because it is always in the middle of this ordinary routine that Jesus shows up with some very good news. 

Comments

You are soo eloquent! This

You are soo eloquent! This right here is balm for this weary soul.
I will be present and faithful thank you for the refresher...

Thank you!!

Thank you for your kind encouragement! This post was for my heart and I'm so glad it spoke to yours. Much love.

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