I haven't written a post for waaaaaaay too long. Today's post, though, is a little more serious than the others. (I know, lame, right?)
So, for those of you who know me, you know I'm a pretty religious guy. I usually pray throughout the day: just little things here and there as stuff comes to me. Sometimes I'm not patient enough with my kids, so I'll try and sneak in a little prayer in my mind asking for help to be more patient. Or, sometimes if I'm just driving somewhere, I'll think about things I want to improve in, so I pray for help and try to think of ways that I can improve in those areas.
Anyway, something that's been on my mind a lot recently has been service. I've been analyzing my life and I realize that I haven't been as selfless as I should be. So, I've been praying for ways I can be more selfless: you know, like doing some community service, feeding the homeless, saving whales, that kind of stuff.
The problem is, all these house chores keep getting in the way. The other morning I was having a great prayer--on my knees no less--asking God for more opportunities to be selfless and chisel away at all my selfish tendencies, when I realized it was time to get the kids up, make them breakfast, and then make their lunches. Then, after that, they were off to school, so I had some free time, and so I thought, "Okay, now's a perfect time to go and do something for someone other than myself." The only problem was, I had to do the laundry and the dishes, make the bed, pick up the kids' room (which they usually do themselves but in this case I had to get it done before they would be home from school) and then run some food up to my wife who had forgotten to make herself a lunch. Then, to make matters worse, Keenin had forgotten his homework folder at home and it had a ton of homework in it that he had to turn in that day. So, I had to drive all the way out to his school just to drop it off (which is not the same school down the street that Reese goes to: Keenin now goes to a private school out by the airport, which is only about 15 miles away, but with Honolulu traffic it might as well be located in Guam).
Then, that afternoon, all my time was eaten up by helping the kids with their homework, piano lessons, make dinner, and then they were allowed to have some of the neighbor kids come over and play. Of course, 4-5 small children running around in a confined area is worse than a college frat house during Homecoming. By the time the night was over and I was getting the kids in the bath, our place looked like it had been redecorated by Genghis Khan. I rolled my eyes and bemoaned my travails as a "housewife" to Emaley, earning myself a sympathetic look along with a couple platitudes.
The next morning, when I woke up, once again praying to have more opportunities to be more selfless, I looked at the house--still in disarray--and groaned. I complained to Emaley how I'm spending all my time cleaning and cooking and cleaning some more and then after the cleaning I get to do some more cleaning cleaning cleaning cleaning cleaning cooking cleaning cleaning...
On an unrelated note: I give a lot of lip service to "God answers prayers in mysterious ways" when I'm at church. It makes you sound sage and deep and balanced to say stuff like that, and everyone else in Sunday School says, "Ooh, Doug is so wise and spiritual. Scripture seems to tumble from his lips like honey from one of those little plastic bear-shaped bottles." Of course, when the rubber hits the road, and God answers my prayer in a way that's not only mysterious but, let's face it, a little inglorious, I tend to moan and whine and throw my hands up in some faux righteous indignation.
No wonder my mom is such a saint. By the time she was done raising me, she had earned enough "community service" hours to cash in on a beachfront mansion in heaven, complete with a hot tub and tennis court. I mean, here I am presented DAILY opportunities to give service to--not strangers, not acquaintances--but the most important people in my life, and I drag my feet like I'm on death row.
I've always been told house chores are circular--kind of like the "Circle of Life" in the Lion King: eternal, perpetual, never-ending, obnoxious (I feel like Bill Murray in "Ground Hog Day")--and that knowledge has never done anything to assuage my frustration with constant cleaning and cooking. However, when I finally looked at it from the perspective of, "Wow, I get to do these things today for the people I love," it changed everything. I still hate cleaning, I still hate cooking, but I love my sweaty, smelly, muddy kids and my patient, understanding wife who puts up with all my whining (but who can't put clothes on hangers to save her life and always leaves her pajamas laying on the floor and doesn't load the washing machine correctly and always leaves little bits of food on the dishes when she washes them and... )
Anyway, I never realized homemaking could be such an internship for Sainthood. By no means do I claim to have achieved any sort of super spiritual transcendental status, but this one little "click" in my paradigm has definitely opened my eyes up to a lot of what it means to live everyday for other people. I think I understand the kind of service Jesus gave--not to elevate himself, but to elevate others. Now, when I do finally go out and save a whale, or help out at a soup kitchen, I hope I'll think more about the service itself, and less about myself.
Reese just spilled her juice. I get to "serve" her...again...