I love doing dishes. Weird, I know. This is not a new thing, either. I remember as a kid really enjoying the feeling of watching dishes get clean. I am rather less fond of rinsing and stacking dishes, and drying dishes fills me with a specific boredom so intense I’d rather gnaw grouting out of tiles with my incisors. I do, however, enjoy putting the dishes away. I like things to be in their place, and it gives me a sense of order and “rightness” when each dish is carefully stashed in its own, allocated spot, ready and waiting to be used when we need it next.
When I got married, the man I chose was perfect for me. For one thing, he checked every box on my wish list, and some boxes I’d thought were too fantastic to hope for. He was everything I wished for and the perfect complement to me. The thing about a complement, though, is that it completes you. It makes up what you lack, and you do the same. In other words, where I border on OCD about order and cleanliness, Papa Bear has a rather less urgent approach to housework. In fact, truth be told, he completely fails to become aware of the need for any kind of neatness or order or cleanliness around him. This is made more amusing by the fact that he has a very high Personal Neatness Quotient (PNQ). “PNQ?”, I hear you ask. Allow me to explain. When Papa Bear wakes up in the morning, he looks and sounds ready for the day. Not a hair is out of place, not a gravel in the voice (unless he has ‘flu, in which case he sounds both ready and delicious). He can answer the phone in the middle of the night and have a perfectly lucid conversation. He can be at a meeting, reayd and looking perky and pressed within 10 minutes of waking up. Fifteen minutes if the traffic is bad. And he’s never late. It’s amazing.
I, on the other hand, do not have a PNQ of any kind. Without a significant amount of work, practise, bobby pins, hair spray and resignation, I am an afrofrizziac with no hope of appearing in public. My clothes manage to attract every atom of unidentifiable faint brown stain, and no matter how careful I am, there’s always a thread hanging out somewhere. Always. Over the years I have developed a theory about this, which is that we are each blessed with the exact same Neatness Quotient, but it is uniquely allocated. So if your PNQ is very high, there’s none left for anything else. If, like me, personal neatness is a wasted pursuit with no hope of success, there’s masses left over for everything else.
When we were first married I was young and naive. I thought all work should be evenly shared between us, as should all reward. I felt that the amount of work to be done was set. We each work “outside the home”, earning money, for the same number of hours. So we should each work inside the home, maintaining things, for equal amounts of time and effort, too. I felt that giving Papa Bear time to see the wisdom in this self-evident truth would be the path to equity and peace.
I was wrong.
What I have instead discovered is that for my peace of mind to stand a chance of survival, the dishes must be done. All the time. Once they’ve been used they must be cleaned, rinsed and stacked. When they are dry they must be put away. Or used again, depending on the circumstances. Doing this has added roughly 20 minutes or less to my daily activity, and granted me enormous peace and contentment.
Recently I was reflecting on the joy I felt from the simple fact that whenever I need a dish, it’s ready to be used. I don’t need to fend off hoards of valiant ant soldiers or sleepily circling flies. I don’t need to strain removing day-old gunk that has merged into the fabric of the dish I need. I can simply go to the place where the dish should be, and voilà! There it is! It’s like magic.
Reflecting on this set me thinking on deeper things. (Reflection has a way of doing that, don’t you find?). What I started thinking about was just how great I feel about having things ready to be used as they were designed to be used. I want to be used for what I was designed to be used for. I want to be ready, willing and able. I want to be fit for service.
To that end, whatever it is that is in store for me in the future, I want to be perfectly prepared for it when it arrives. If that means full-time ministry with Papa Bear (and I hope it does!), then I need to be ready. And I figure, whatever else the future may hold, a strong faith and sound doctrine will stand me in good stead wherever life takes me. It’s like covering the one base, being completely surrendered to God for use in His service, covers all the others, too.
What about you? Are you doing what you were destined to do? Would you recognise your destiny it if it looked you in the face? And if you’re on the way towards it, are you getting more and more prepared for it each day, or trying as hard as you can to hang to who and what you are now for as long as possible? Be careful of doing that. Opportunities do pass us by.