Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Savoring a Cup of Tea: Some is Better than None (Colossians 3)

This one goes out to perfectionists and self-sufficient females everywhere! I (Betsy) don't know about the rest of you, but I believe over the years I've internalized the following well known verses as "Do everything without help and perfectly; if it should be done, then it must be done and done perfectly and without help." The two verses in reality say, "Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Col. 3:17); and "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men" (Col. 3:23).

Now, I could write millions of pages on Colossians 3, but suffice it to say for now that these verses follow the equally well known exhortation to set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. How does this relate to perfectionism and self-sufficiency? Read on....

The Fly Lady was the first one to really open my eyes to this glaring truth. She says in her materials something to the effect that housework done imperfectly still blesses your family. I realized that she was right; not ever doing some of the housework because I didn't have time to do it right was not blessing anyone. Instead, I could use the 15 minutes I had to clean up the kitchen instead of thinking I didn't have time "to do anything." Instantly our dinner was more peaceful.

I think we often communicate in our churches that, since we are doing everything for the Lord, everything must be done perfectly. We are losing the critical message of the first half of Colossians 3: we are first serving the Lord where he has called us. If he has called you, like me, to be the wife of a college professor with random hours and the mother of 3 children two and under, then the house will not be perfectly clean, nor will dinner be gourmet, nor will the clothes be ironed. My higher calling is to be a wife and mother, and do what is before me to the best of my current ability and as for the Lord. I tend to do nothing rather than do it half way; I'm realizing that I will be a better wife and mother if I at least start, even if it's only half-way. Let me illustrate with a short list of ideals and the half-way point:

1. We're supposed to read to our children at least 3o minutes every day; 15 minutes is still better than 0.
2. I'd like to lose weight, but rarely have time to work out; refusing to eat the extra jelly beans is still better than nothing.
3. I should be praying and reading my Bible every day (for a long time!); 15 minutes of earnest prayer every morning is certainly better than none at all.
4. I'd love to have a scrapbook for all my children; pictures by themselves are better than no photos at all.
5. I'd love to be entertaining all the time with elaborate meals and fancy table settings; hot dogs, chips, and watermelon on paper plates is better than showing no hospitality.

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