Shocking, I know. But I’m not gonna lie: This mom needed an attitude adjustment for her big, fat attitude. And I wasn’t even aware that I was being a snot until it had been going on for a long time.
I learned my lesson from a grouchy little boy in my 4th grade Sunday School class.
In our class, kids can apply to be a part of the Leadership Team of Awesomness (or LToA for short ;). Kids on the leadership team wear a special name tag and help out with little jobs during the service. They have a choice of whether they want to do things like pass out flyers, collect the offering, set up activities, or lead worship. Certain jobs, like running the tech equipment, require training and are only available to a few kids. The leadership team is a fun way for the kids to serve others and to create a classroom community together. Kids have to apply to be on the team so they and their parents understand that they are making a commitment. Parents sign the application too because it’s their responsibility to get their child to church on a semi-regular basis if he or she is to help out.
One little boy had signed a commitment form to be a part of the class’s leadership team. 2 Sundays ago he got really upset at me because I wouldn’t let him do the tech job. He didn’t know how to use the sound equipment, he hadn’t been trained ahead of time, and I couldn’t train him during the service. Kids have to show up early if they want to be trained for tech. Well, like I said he was very grouchy and gave me a lot of attitude when I asked him to choose another job. He angrily announced that he would not help that Sunday because he was quitting the LToA. Then the following Sunday he wasn’t at church.
As I was elbow-deep in soapy water and dirty dishes one afternoon my mind kept going back to the last Sunday I saw that boy. Did I do the right thing? I feel like I did. it wouldn’t have been reasonable for me to give in to him. He didn’t know how to work the equipment, and I couldn’t very well teach him to use it while teaching the Sunday School lesson.
Then, ashamed as I am to say it, I started feeling resentful towards the boy. What was he thinking anyway? Like I’m just going to let him do whatever he wants just because he gets moody at me? He’s supposed to be serving others for the joy of servanthood. He should be willing to do whatever job was necessary. Ugh.
Meanwhile I was still scrubbing away at those pots and pans. Some of them had been sitting in the sink for a loooooooong time, and the food was really stuck on them! I turned my irritation from the little boy to those nasty dishes. My internal argument went something like this:
Seriously, am I the only one capable of washing dishes in this house? It’s like I’m an underpaid housekeeper! I do all the work outside the home, then come home and do all the cooking and cleaning and teeth brushing and baths and… This is ridiculous. I’m going to get John and Logan in here to start helping. I am NOT going to keep cleaning this house for no recognition. Why should it be me that does everything? I mean, yesterday I came home from work and the trash was overflowing! Would it kill them to take it out? For Pete’s sake.
And that’s when it hit me. I realized that I am no different than that grouchy little boy in Sunday School.
Friends, I felt totally convicted. My husband and son do help. A lot. John always takes the trash out, it’s only my job when he’s not around to do it. And really, the house wasn’t very messy that day. I couldn’t justify asking everyone to drop what they were doing because I wanted them to clean.right.now. I was cleaning on that lazy weekend afternoon because I wanted to. I like keeping a tidy home. Providing a clean, comfortable home is how I serve my loved ones. Like that little boy, I shouldn’t scoff at my chance to serve.
Lately we’ve been so crazy busy. John and I have opposite schedules so we aren’t often home at the same time. It’s the least I can do to keep from bombarding him with negativity or nagging him to be more clean, like me. What would that do to our already-stretched-thin relationship? We have 3 children 3 and under, and all 6 of us are living in a tiny apartment (we ended up not being able to afford that house I wanted to rent). It’s just a tough season for everyone. John and Logan don’t feel the need to clean 24/7 like I do. With there almost always being one parent away at work, things are just going to be difficult until the little guys get more independent. Since neither John nor I can do it all, I guess I can keep things as tidy as possible without grumbling.
And that, my friends, was how I achieved my big fat attitude adjustment. I don’t like feeling resentful towards my family for things none of us can change. Instead of getting irritable when times are tough, I’ve decided to shift my perspective. I could choose to feel sorry for myself for having to work hard every day of my life until John finishes school. But you know what, I’ve tried that and all it got me was wrinkles in my grouchy face. It feels a lot better on the inside to look at the work I have to do as a way I am serving my family. Yes, it feels like the next 3 years of John’s school are an eternity of long commutes and lots of housework for me. But it’s not forever. And what my kids will remember is how I took on this challenge with grace.