On the Days That Don’t Matter (Humility in the Tub)

Gross, I thought to myself, my nose wrinkling with every swipe of the damp rag in my hand. I readjusted my knees on the small bathmat, gripped the side of the tub, and began scrubbing again. Yeah, it’s been way too long, I acknowledged to no one in particular. A scowl etched itself further into my face as I scrub scrub scrubbed at the yuck I had too long ignored at the bottom of our bathroom tub.

Welcome to Monday morning.

On this particular morning, B was down for a nap and I had begrudgingly admitted to myself that the bathroom could not be ignored much longer.

So here I was.

And then — it never fails — the whispers started to creep into my mind…

So, this is what you’re using your hard-earned degree for. It’s a good thing you went into debt so you could spend your time doing the exact same things you’ve been doing since your mom first assigned bathroom duty to you back in elementary school. 

Come on, Mary — what does it even matter?

I attempted to push the voices out of my mind. I scrubbed harder, angrier…

Ya know, no one really cares whether or not you finish cleaning that tub today. Just like no one cares if you finish laundry, wash the dishes, or start writing that story that’s been sitting in your head. No one cares how many games of peek-a-boo you play today, or whether or not you successfully teach Ben how to give a high-five. What difference does it make?

What does it even matter?

The negative thoughts continued to grow, and shame crept in as I thought about the little boy sprawled out in his crib a few rooms away.

Matt and I joke about how, with B, what you see is what you get. With him, there is no pretense, no feigned humility, no deception — just a pure, transparent, and genuine ball of energy.

That’s why his reaction when I walk into the room is one of the sweetest, greatest moments I’ve experienced. His face lights up, yes, but it’s also like his entire body gets a massive jolt of energy. His joy seems to bubble over at the sight of his mom, and unintelligible babbling comes pouring out of his mouth. It sounds like nothing, but I know exactly what it means.

For this short, appointed time, I’m the center of his little world.

And that’s why the shame crept in. Shame because of my discontented, prideful, I’m-better-than-this attitude.

I have the unique privilege of being able to stay home to teach, mold, and invest in my son, and this isn’t done just in feeding him, changing his diapers, and reading him books in an overly enthusiastic and dramatic voice.

No, it’s more than that. It’s in teaching him how to fold his hands in prayer before he rubs broccoli all over his face. It’s in waiting with him at the front door and getting excited when daddy comes home. And as the years go by, it will be in letting him help me make dinner as a way to serve our family and honor his hardworking dad. It will be in taking him with me to volunteer at the pregnancy care center, so that he learns that life is valuable, and the world is bigger than himself. It will be in showing him grace and forgiveness when he messes up, reminding him that God is both gracious and forgiving.

And it will be in teaching good stewardship and hard work by doing the unlovely things…such as scrubbing a tub.

As I knelt over the tub, washing away the grime, I felt the Holy Spirit silently brushing away my prideful and discontented attitude.

As I finished up the tub and moved on to my next task, I redirected my thoughts: rather than mourn the “wasted” or “pointless” moments, I began to pray for the tiny human resting a few footsteps away. Praying for his health, his safety, his salvation — and that somehow, God will use his broken mom to show him the love of Christ.

We tend to idolize the big, noticeable moments of life. But the reality is that who we really are is determined in the small, mundane, and barely noticeable moments of life.

If I can’t maintain integrity in the quiet, “boring,” and routine moments, how will I ever stand when the big moments come?

So if you’re scrubbing tubs, changing diapers, staying up all night, working extra hours, or wrestling a tiny monster into a car seat and you’re wondering, What difference does it make? — Be encouraged. Take heart. And know that every little thing you do has the potential to bring glory to your Creator — no matter how unglamorous a task may seem.

Here’s to humbly and quietly serving the audience of One — one grimy tub at a time.

 

 

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