By Janet W. Butler
When you've tapped into your spiritual side-however that renewal happens for you-one of the best "side effects" is a growing sense of appreciation. An "attitude of gratitude," as the old saying goes, seems to go hand-in-hand with a deepening spirituality. And sometimes, what you end up being grateful for-and find blessings in-will surprise you.
Like, for example, housework.
Now, some of you are probably screaming, "You call housework something to be grateful for? A blessing? What are you, nuts?" Well...no. Not exactly.
You see, one of the things "an attitude of gratitude" allows you to realize is that you really don't own anything on earth; it's all been given to you on a temporary-loan basis. From your physical body through all your surroundings, your resources, and your dwellings-it's all on loan. Which means that you've been entrusted with a lot of Divine providence, and you need to take proper care of it.
Ergo, if things are dirty, messy, broken, or need sprucing, then cleaning, straightening, fixing, and polishing them up is actually good stewardship. It shows gratitude. And it shows appreciation for the value of all things, large and small.
Now, most of us can see the need to do this in our world at large. Many of us are extremely good caretakers of the earth. We recycle, we drive a hybrid car, we pick up trash from public areas, we try to leave things cleaner than the way we found them. Many of us are absolute fanatics about this...yet "anything goes" at our house or apartment. Many of us even sort of brag about being "lousy housekeepers," or about how long we can "escape" housework. For the great majority of us, however, if we continue on this path long enough, our homes become constantly disorganized, dusty, or depressing places to be around.
So what's wrong with this picture?
Good housekeeping and homemaking, however large or small our homes may be, is not only a worthwhile thing to do-and enjoyable, if you're a homebody, as I am-but it's also good stewardship. And good stewardship is not optional...it's required of us. In all things. Including how we manage our personal "stuff."
If you doubt this, all you need to do is think for a few moments about how your everyday life plays out. Where the snags are. Where the obstacles are. Where the stresses are. Give that some serious thought, and you'll probably come up with a list of frustrations along the lines of "car ran out of gas...spent 20 minutes searching for my glasses and got a late start to work...had to get a second copy of the field trip permission slip for the kids because we lost the first one..."
All of this pain could be avoided by taking a stewardship approach to one's own little corner of the world. Translation:getting a housekeeping routine, and sticking by it, not only makes the house and the garage and the yard look shiny and clean and sparkling...but it does the same for your spirit.
Did you ever think of housework/ "home" work that way before? Probably not. Maybe you thought of it as "taking care," as doing what needed doing, but you may never have considered washing dishes, or folding laundry, or weeding the garden, or scooping the cat box, as spiritual activities.
Yet they are. They're part of stewardship, part of our taking care of the abundance that's been entrusted to us, and to the extent that we do them well, we can not only enhance and improve our physical world but lift our spirits as well. The world, and our little corners of it, are all of a piece. It's not "my stuff" versus "the important stuff" (i.e., the big stuff, the public stuff, or the "company stuff")...it's all important. It all matters.
So it all counts. But the good news is it all blesses, too.
Try a small dose of it first, as FLYlady advises. Use baby steps in this, just as you've used baby steps to learn any new spiritual (or physical!) activity. Take fifteen minutes and shine a sink. Or ten minutes and sort the mail. Or five minutes and scoop that cat box.
Yes, things are getting nicer even as you look-but here's the best part: what you do with your mind and heart while your hands are busy.
...saying a prayer.
...meditating on some Scripture.
...sending loving thoughts to someone you haven't seen for a long time.
...repeating an affirmation about something you really want to accomplish.
What do you suppose may start to happen at this point?
You may not trust this. You may think this whole notion is so cockamamie that there's no way it's going to "disguise" housework or make it "fun." But we're not trying to pull sleight-of-hand here-just a slight reframing of your world, a fresh perspective, a new source of light and a new way to care for both yourself and others.
In other words...we're working at a new spiritual practice. Give it a try, give it a chance, and see what happens. Bet you get hooked!