Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Finding meaning in housework

You won't find me whistling while I clean the toilet, but I've found new meaning in housework. I've decided that it's a noble undertaking, and it will bring me closer to God. It's a chance you have every single day to say...

 "there is something more important than myself, and it's the other people who live here." Yes, I'm all for chore charts and teaching kids to work, but any mother knows that there's still much work a mother has to do by herself.

It's not very often you get do hands-dirty, on your knees, "gross" service for other people. Somehow in our society, we've made the endless dishes, spilled cereal and piles of laundry a source of frustration in our lives. I shouldn't have to do this, we say, I have more important things to do, we say, and this is not fun, we say.

What if the thing that you hate is actually the very best way to teach you humility, gratitude, and awe? But how often, when you could be taking advantage of this gift Heavenly Father has given you to help you look outside of yourself-- instead you spend the time completing those tasking feeling like your burdens are too big, your to do list too long, and your 'me time' minuscule?

I think sometimes we tell ourselves the lessons we need to learn are "out there." We need to escape to a mountain getaway to feel close to God. We need to fly to Africa to fill our hearts with service and love. I think they can be learned right here, in your menial, trivial, housework.

What gifts housework can give you

  • Housework teaches a mother to look outside of herself, to think about others' needs just as the Savior did "whosoever shall lose his life shall find it."
  • Housework helps a mother see what she has been given, and be grateful for her gifts. "Thank you for this dishwasher!" "Thank you for the money to keep my children out of rags!" "Thank you for these hardwood floors that shine when they are clean, and add beauty to my surroundings." Without housework, it could be possible that a mother would never stop long enough to see God's miracles that he has placed right in front of us, and in our society "mundane things" that actually make life wonderful and happy.
  • Housework allows mothers a physical medium for serving their children. I know most mothers would argue they never stop serving their children... driving them here and there, staying up with them in the night, having their children's worries occupy their own thoughts... but have you ever thought about the satisfaction you receive from physical service? Do you remember as a young person raking leaves for the widow? How somehow the physical mixed with the charitable was in some ways more exhilarating than simply writing her a card? I don't know that I really understand it, but somehow using your body and not just simply your mind is a great gift you can give to your children, especially when you are blessed with a body that functions properly and is in good health, something you will not always be able to say as you get older! When you use your body for housework, it's as if you're saying "thank you" to Heavenly Father for your healthy body, and simultaneously also saying "thank you" for the children and family you serve, and the home in which you live. Jesus Christ was a great example of this. While he did much service through his words and sermons and examples of piety, he also made time while he was on this earth to do dirty, menial tasks, even "disgusting" things-- like wash His disciples' feet. We can learn from Him.
  • Housework allows mothers a daily chance to serve. One time when my younger brother was still single, he came over to our house to watch General Conference when we had three tiny, wild babies. He remarked, "I like watching conference at your house, because the lessons you are learning you get to apply IMMEDIATELY." I often think about that, how families are like a built-in laboratory for learning selflessness. My point is you don't need to go to Africa to figure out how to lose yourself-- you have the opportunity, daily, to put the needs of someone else above your own, to put the needs of the whole above the needs of the self. You have that opportunity through housework.
  • Housework can leave us awe-inspired and close to God. Sometimes I repeat this mantra to myself as I do housework: "Take chaos and create beauty." It reminds me that I am divine, just like my Father, and I can take something that seems to have no order, and turn it into something that is pleasing, happy, and wonderful.

Housework is your chance to say "thank you" to Heavenly Father. Thank you for my ordinary life. Thank you for my two hands that are able to serve my family. Thank you for my divinity. Thank you for the constant chance to serve, and draw closer to you. What a blessing we have as mothers, in housework!


  1. Ashley, if you write this blog even just for me, it will be worth it. ❤

    1. I'm so glad it's helpful to you Carly! It's so helpful to me too. I actually cried after I wrote this one because I was so grateful for this new perspective, and writing it helped me figure that out. God is good.

  2. This is really really really insightful!!! You always seem to be able to go beyond the mark Ashley and fine TRUE meaning to the life you live each day. You are blessing my life. I really enjoyed this post because I struggle with the constant housework. I will try and look at it with new eyes after reading this post. Thank you!❤❤❤

    1. Thank you so much for these kind words Emily. I come back to them and they give me the motivation to keep going. You are a blessing in my life!!