When it comes to how we operate as a couple, how we run our household, and how we exist as a family, the little things are extremely important to us. A simple post-it note with our code word (what? you don't have one with your loverpants, too?), a text when I'm standing in line at the post office, a sink of dishes cleaned without supplication --these rule the Loverpants school.
So when I examine the things that I have been especially begrudging lately, this is what I see:
How am I to be faithful in large matters, like raising a child that doesn't just know it's wrong to keep turning the dial of the vending machine with all the slime globes in it even though one knows they're going to keep coming out for free because the machine is BROKEN. I want my kid to know it's wrong and therefore, to do the right thing. Which is what I should have done in the lobby of Kmart in 1989 when my mother was still checking out her Laura Ashley towels at the register.
How can I be faithful in the big matters when I am so whiney in the little matters? How can I accept and be diligent in the tasks that this world so needs to be done when I am throwing a hissy to match up my own socks?
I think about Proverbs 31 --the chapter I made a part of my vows, my anthem for our marriage, our household, our family. It describes a woman who is so lofty compared to me. She never complains. She gets up early without being a total bearcub about it. She tills her garden. She probably matches up all her socks and those of her kids.
I read this recently and I realized what I was missing.
King Lemuel describes an amazing woman in the last chapter of Proverbs. It would profit every Christian wife to read this chapter often. She is a talented woman. In fact, she even helps with the income.101 It is not wrong for a wife to pursue a career if it does not interfere with her domestic responsibilities. Judging from all that she does for her family, the ideal woman of Proverbs 31 is an industrious, self-disciplined woman who schedules her time carefully. Nothing is too much trouble for her. She even rises before daybreak to prepare breakfast for her family.102 One word is probably more important than any other in the passage. It is the word that describes her sustaining attitude: “She worketh willingly with her hands.”103104
The literal meaning is “with pleasure.” Her deepest joy and satisfaction is found in making her family happy. You see, the Lord is interested not only in what we do, but also in how we do it. Our attitude matters to Him. When a Christian wife is yielded to Christ she will be able to accept her God-given role joyfully, and her husband’s heart will cry “Amen” when he reads the words, “The man who finds a wife finds a good thing; she is a blessing to him from the Lord!”
I may not find pleasure in the actual work of the little things, but the little things do amount to something much bigger than socks and spilled milk and the total crap job I do of cleaning the bathroom every. single time. But I can find pleasure in knowing that the love I have for my family is manifested in some fractional way by the instance of my refilling the toilet paper, and even if my family doesn't thank me for it, Someone Upstairs is pleased with me. Nothing says loving.