Originally published Monday, 16 May 2022.
I have been a housewife/domestic engineer/stay-at-home-mom for over ten years, and I cherish and appreciate the blessing of being able to be with my kids full time. I know not everyone has the opportunity to do it, and not everyone wants to. As for me, I will always be grateful for these years spent with my children as they grew from newborns to toddlers and toddlers to school agers. But…
Let’s be real: I hate cleaning my house.
While I am at it, here are some more confessions: If my kids want to stay in their pajamas all day, I entertain the notion far too often, and sometimes even join them. I almost always have clean laundry in my room or sitting on my couch, and I use it as validation for Netflix binging—I rarely even attempt folding unless I can combine the two. One more: It is a dream of mine that once the kids are in school I will go back to work just so I can hire someone else to clean my house. I still haven’t quite convinced my husband of how fantastic an idea this is, but I am working on it.
I love to have friends in my home, but preparing to receive them is the furthest thing from my list of joys. I know the popular things these days is not to worry about the mess, and don’t apologize for it. But the truth is, I am not apologizing because I am afraid it isn’t good enough, or because I won’t meet some unknown standard. I apologize because I honestly could have done a little (or… a lot) better, but I chose to do something else instead. It might have been important, and it might mean I was reading a really good chapter in whatever book I am currently reading. Please accept my heartfelt apology for inviting you into my squalor; but hey, I’m glad you’re here.
The longer I am at home, the more I have to search for the why of homemaking. Is it important? Absolutely. Is there worth in it? Definitely. Do I love walking into other people’s beautiful homes? LOVE IT. Do I want to have the same? Sort of…well, yes, yes I do. But many of the reasons still escape me. One does not. This is how I serve my people and my God.
The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. -Proverbs 14:1 (This can be applied to attitude as well, but we should also actually care for the homes we have been given)
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.-Proverbs 31:27 (My paraphrase: She pays attention to the hearts and welfare of those around her, puts down her phone, and chooses not to tell Netflix she is still watching.)
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.- Titus 2:3-5(That one, I’m just gonna leave right there.)
I have advantageously learned to weave through loopholes and manufacture justification for why I can get away with my favorite indulgences. However, carefully crafting my own demise slowly strips away what I truly care about. I have told myself the cluttered corner means little looking through the lens of eternity, but caring for, loving well, and providing a place of rest for my family means more than I realize.
The home can be a dark and troubling place as well. What happens in a household can make bitterness take root, it can be where unspeakable abuses are inflicted, and it may act as an anxiety breeding ground when people strive after unrealistic dreams of perfection. The nightly news tells us quaint neighborhood dwellings can also become the crime scene, the drug den, or the house of hidden terrors.
By the grace of God, I will build my house, fight for justice within my walls, and model sacrificial love. So there will be prayers prayed, truths taught, and the gospel preached. If it also means bending down to wash little feet, slay allergy-inducing dust bunnies, and aggressively cleansing dried food off an infinite cascade of dishes. So be it. May the Lord arm us for whatever battle lays ahead of us this day, and may His mercies meet us in the morning. Time to go, I’ve got work to do.
We know not everyone has this struggle, but we are sure you have your own places that scripture convicts and reminds that there is a better way to love. How will you choose to show love to those closest to you today?
Chara Donahue enjoys freelance writing, biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She is an adjunct professor, holds an MSEd, and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is the host of the podcast The Bible Never Said That and a regular contributor at iBelieve. Her words have appeared at Christianity Today, Crosswalk, (in)courage, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara on Facebook and Twitter.
*This post is from the archives and was originally published in 2016