I like to joke with my four little boys that there's "At Home Mommy" and "Left the House Mommy." She looks like two very different people. At Home Mommy is wearing the mismatched ensemble that she slept in. She hasn't showered, she's wearing her semi-broken glasses, she has no make-up on and her hair is yanked back in whatever crazy formation that will keep it out of the way from jammy hands, scuzzy dishes, garden mud, and toilet water. If "At Home Mommy" makes any move towards improving her disheveled appearance, even the littlest of her boys will instantly ask, "Are you leaving??!" Because they know, mommy doesn't look decent unless she has to go in public.
In public, "Left the House Mommy," will have combed her hair, she may have done a fancy braid or put on some jewelry. She'll have buffed out her wrinkles with some Bare Minerals and her outfit will be presentable. She’ll look all put together, but what the crowd sees is never the whole story, is it? In both places, she is far from perfect, but she’s realized that the majority of her life is spent inside the four walls of her home with the people that matter the most to her.
"Left the House Mommy" is decent at public speaking, she has a Masters Degree in TESL and she's lived overseas as a missionary. She's delighted to be at a party or to minister alongside her husband at church but that's not where she lives. Those are the mountaintop places, the places she's blessed to occasionally go, where she is seen and perceived by the world. But the bulk of her time is spent at home, training little souls to love Jesus, clean their rooms, change their underwear and have deep, respectable character. This is called the mundane. This is where we spend most of our lives. The private unseen places is where our integrity and our faith matter most.
"The private unseen places is where our integrity and our faith matter most."
~ Tara Hannon
My outward appearance may be different at times, but what should prevail is the consistency of my conduct. It is a constant challenge, but what I want my boys to say of me is that I loved God just as fervently through the simple routines of our lives as I did from any podium or stage. I don't want them to see a Sunday faith that was put aside through my week. When I'm stressed or tired or squeezed, what will they see? I want them to see Jesus when I'm in a disagreement with Daddy. I want them to see Jesus when I get cut off in traffic. I want them to see Jesus when I get devastating news. I want them to see Jesus when they've been so loud and naughty and raucous that I want to scream and cry and dissolve. But with His strength, I don't. Instead I can choose to respond with patience, compassion and judiciousness. I want them to see Jesus in the mundane. I want Him to permeate all the regular, ordinary moments and monotonous tasks of our lives. Colossians 3:23 says:
"Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people."
~ Colossians 3:23
How often have I angrily scrubbed at plastic bowls with glued-on cereal, inconsiderately left at the bottom of the sink for me by an army of little boys or, heaven forbid, their father?! Don't they know I have better things to do with my time? I have Bible studies to lead, girls to mentor and blog posts to write- spiritual things that matter, Holy ambitions that will impact the world!!
So naturally, I huff loudly as I scrub to ensure everyone knows how inconvenienced I am, as bits of Panda Puff go flying like shrapnel. Never mind that we can afford Whole Foods fare or that the little boys who deposited these offensive bowls are allergy-free. Never mind that they're physically healthy, able-bodied and conscientious enough to carry their bowls at all. Never mind that their dad has worked a 50 hour week. God’s trying to work out humility and sacrifice and character in me, but I could have been logging hours in my Bible app, people!!
The great orator of the 20th century, Oswald Chambers, put it this way:
"It's one thing to go through a crisis grandly, yet quite another to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, and no one paying even the remotest attention to us."
~ Oswald Chambers
We are to be faithful and honorable to the Lord when no one requires it, applauds it or even notices it. Keep our thoughts pure because He asks us to. Do our devotions because it draws us closer to His heart. Speak well of our boss because gossip grieves the Father. Hold our tongue when our spouse has failed us. Extend grace to the child that keeps disobeying.
There are a jillion ways to love the Lord in the regular places of our lives. What if we joyfully folded our laundry as a service to our families, grateful that their little bums don't have to run around nakey? What if we delighted in our commute as a chance to listen to a sermon or reach out to a lonely BART neighbor? What if we were thankful for that boring, far away job because it keeps us afloat in the beautiful Bay Area? What if we shifted our perspectives away from inconvenience and towards gratitude for the things and people that prompt all of these routines? Grateful for the ability to work, to own, to clean, to parent, to connect, to give and to grieve.
What if we let God into the mundane, asking Him to transform our understanding of all that we MUST do to all that we GET to do? What if serving God isn't about mountaintops or visibility, but rather the regular, simple moments of cheerfully setting our alarms, doing our sit-ups and vacuuming up Cheerios. If we allow the Father to speak to us as we walk our dogs and prepare for board meetings and take out the trash, we might see that He's everywhere, wanting to reign in our Gram-worthy successes, but also in our everyday grind.
He's the God of “At Home Mommy” and “Left the House Mommy”. He sees her heart. He sees yours. He knows you. He's proud of you, whether you're killing it or sucking it up, famous or living in obscurity, scintillating or ordinary. He takes us to the mountain-top, but He never leaves us or forsakes us in the valley. Let's honor Him with the integrity of our devotion, moment by moment, because He's right there in the middle of our very regular, beautiful mundane lives, Panda Puffs and all.