The problem comes when I start expecting and anticipating that thanks or praise. Don't get me wrong-- I think noticing the things spouses do for each other or kids being respectful are both important. But I notice my attitude turning sour and bitter if I start thinking that I deserve that thanks and praise.
I read a story in Luke the other day that I honestly don't remember ever reading before. Maybe that was one of the reasons it stuck out to me. The other reason was just what I was talking about above. Here's the passage:
“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”
Whaaaaat. This is Jesus talking, by the way, not a Pharisee criticizing him for being kind to someone's servant or something. This passage has been stuck in my heart ever since I read it and I'm still meditating on it. I think I'm learning but I am definitely not perfect about this.
How often do I get myself into a vindicative, sour spirit when I feel like I'm not getting enough help or praise? More often than I'd like to admit. How many times am I frustrated with young kids being...well, young kids, instead of getting along so my day goes smoothly?
On one hand, I could say, well, I signed up for this mom and wife thing, so that passage applies to me. But maybe you didn't. Maybe you weren't planning on being a mom right now and you are anyway. Maybe you imagined married life looking different and you didn't really sign up for what it's become for you. Maybe you don't have a spouse OR kids, but at least a couple times a week you bitterly think to yourself, "Well, I'm done with this ministry. I don't think anybody sees what I do. Nobody understands how much effort it is."
And I'm here to tell you (and myself), with love: Shut. Up.
I too often find myself worshipping at the altar of MY FEELINGS. You know what? I did sign up for this. I signed up for this when my heart recognized my brokenness without Christ, and my ultimate utter destruction and hopelessness apart from Him. I signed up to be His servant out of my great obligation, out of my love for Him who loved me first. On some level, where you are is exactly where God called you to be, and in that we must strive to serve in love because our model is the Love that gave up Heaven for us, to die on a rough and bloody cross. What if Jesus had given up and fallen into disobedience and spite because the disciples weren't thanking him enough? What if, when only one of ten lepers had run back, he'd said, "Well, I'm out."
Are you tired? Are you weary? I am. But you know what? I could be getting more sleep, if I'm totally honest with myself. I can say no to some optional things for my own entertainment, or to things I don't actually need to be doing even though saying no makes others a little unhappy. But in my home, my first ministry to my own tiny heathens, I am without a doubt called. Wherever you are, in that pursuit of the ministry that tugged your heart or fell into your lap, you are called.
There are times when we need rest and God gives us rest. There are times when we need shelter and God gives us shelter. There are times when God gives us a swift kick in the rear to move us away from indulgent, flesh-pleasing attitudes, and this passage was one of them for me.
I've been reflecting on Downton Abbey lately. There are lots of problems with the social class system we could point to; there are certainly lots of flaws in the system. But the thing that keeps striking me (and I remember the same thing standing out to me in Jane Eyre) is the acceptance of position. There's a general cultural attitude in the servant class about an unwillingness to expect praise or feel like they are owed things. Duty is important. I find that attitude admirable.
God doesn't owe me anything. My husband and kids don't owe me anything, even if I'd like to think that they do sometimes.
I am a servant. This is my duty. I gave up my delusion of personal rights the day that I recognized that I am not my own. Am I living like it? May my heart's response to the work before me and completed by my hands be, "I am an unworthy servant. I have only done my duty!"
Thanks to Audrey Simmons for sharing. Check out her blog at Everything Beautiful.