Changing the Sheets (New Mom Series)

“I changed the sheets today!”

“Great,” my husband responded with his mind clearly on something else.

“I finally got it done,”he piped in. “I sent in my abstract for the conference this Fall; it will be good to present this time.”

Marvin was invited to speak at an international science conference and he was happy to finish one of the requirements. I wasn’t happy for him though. All I could think about was the difference in our accomplishments. I was so proud of myself for FINALLY remembering to change the sheets on our bed and he was preparing to speak about cutting edge research in front of some of the world’s top scientists.

How far I have fallen.

In the past, I received praise all the time from my boss and co-workers. Someone was always slapping me on the back and saying, “Well done!” Then in my ninth month of pregnancy, I resigned from my job to be a stay-at-home mom. I was looking forward to it, dreaming of all the things I’d get done. But the reality of an infant soon sank in. Get a lot done?! If I did the chores, cared for my son and retained my sanity, it was a good day.

These days, I waited with bated breath at the dinner table, hoping Marvin would compliment the meal (granted, it was only spaghetti and sauce from a jar). And I definitely wanted him to sing my praises for at least 10 minutes about the sheets.

When compliments didn’t come, I got mad. “Here we go; he’s taking me for granted,”I fretted.

I wanted him to notice every little thing I did, from cleaning the kitchen to washing his clothes. The truth is, he often thanks me for what I do and appreciates my new role, but it was never enough. I felt starved for attention, thanks, praise. And this was becoming a source of contention in our marriage and unhappiness in me.

And then, one day, the Holy Spirit whispered a simple verse into my heart, “do(ing) the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Eph 6:6-7).

There it was, that verse speaking a simple truth, “Do it unto the Lord, Nicole… Don’t work for your husband’s praise; work for mine.” In truth, my husband can’t appreciate every thing I do. He can’t pat me on my back and say Thank You all the time. But God sees everything. He sees all the behind-the-scenes service of a wife and mother and is ever ready to say, “Well done,”if we will but listen.

Managing a home and raising a child are two of the most hidden jobs we can do. No one sees most of the work; they see the results: a warm, comfortable home and a happy child, but they don’t see the process, the mundane things that create those realities. But God does. Nothing escapes his notice and he ever exhorts and promises:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Gal 6:9)

Why Waste

“A woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, ‘Why this waste?'”(Matt 26:7-8)

Have you ever wondered if your life is being wasted? Perhaps a voice inside taunts you, “You’re wasting your life!”Or people around you scorn, “What a waste!”

It can happen for any number of reasons:

You have a college degree and choose to leave your high paying job for the mission field. Your relatives respond, “Why this waste?”

You break up with a boyfriend after dating him for years, simply because you think God is telling you to. Your coworkers don’t understand and comment, “What a waste!”

You’re attractive and could easily snag a man for a little fun, but instead you consecrate your life to the Lord and hold out for the Best. Your worldly-wise sister teases, “Man, what a waste!”

You decide to spend your Saturdays serving at a homeless shelter, rather than taking classes for an advanced degree. Your peers see only the money you could be making. But your heart is not in a master’s program; it’s with the poor. They don’t understand it, but you feel tremendous joy when you’re there. Why this waste?

You’re a talented musician, but instead of pursuing a career in the rat-race music world, you serve as a worship leader in your small, unimpressive church. What a waste!

Instead of enjoying an early retirement and buying a sleek two-seater, you start taking in foster children, even after your own children are grown and gone. What a waste!

Instead of retiring to the beach, you sell all and become full time missionaries in a remote village with NONE of the comforts of home. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Waste!

It’s funny, if you spend your 20’s and 30’s in prodigal living, this is not a waste as long as you make money and land dates. But if you spend those years serving the Lord, impacting lives, but making little money and staying celibate, THIS is a waste!

When the woman in Matthew 26 poured the expensive perfume on Jesus, Jesus didn’t think it was a waste; he thought it was a beautiful thing and he said that she would be remembered and respected for it (while perhaps some of her critics would be forgotten…).

Are you wasting your life on Jesus?

Initially, many of the things God calls us to do seem like a waste. But is it waste or is it worship? Worship is giving ourselves lavishly to the Lord. Loving Him with abandon. Pouring, giving, wasting… Worship is never budgeted, rationed or reigned in. That’s why it’s messy sometimes (like pouring perfume all over the place!). The world and even other Christians might say you’re wasting your life, your resources, your youth… But really, you’re just worshiping. You’re pouring out your life as a fragrant offering to he King of the Universe. It’s really not that strange.

I can relate to the Matthew 26 woman. As I’ve shared before, when I graduated from Dartmouth College 18 years ago, I felt the Lord tugging on my heart to stay in my college town and serve at my church. What a waste! I was tall, young and talented and I stowed away in a little New England community for my entire young adult life – initially as a church secretary! I did it because like Ruth of old I followed my heart, rather than my head. Most of the time, my head was like a child being dragged, kicking and screaming in submission; it wasn’t pretty, but the end result was a life yielded to the Lord. This honored Him and ultimately blessed me beyond comprehension! (It was in this little, ummm, boring community that my husband came along, my purpose crystallized and the desires of my heart were fulfilled.) Believe me, my husband is quite blessed that I wasted my 20’s and 30’s on serving the Lord rather than loose living!

But along the way, I heard from every possible source: you’re wasting your life. Strangers in supermarkets, college professors, pastors, saved and unsaved friends. At one point or another about 90% of the people with whom I interacted thought I was pouring my life onto barren soil.

Only Jesus knows the big picture. His ways are not our ways and His wisdom appears foolish. From the beginning of time, God has asked His people to trod unique paths and do unusual things. You’re no exception. God doesn’t change. If He hasn’t already, He will indeed soon ask you to choose the road less traveled and look the fool: in a job choice, relationship, financial decision or the way you spend your time… Follow Him, knowing that in the end you too will be respected and your critics humbled.