I hate cooking dinner. Oh, I don't mind the actual cooking part. I just hate being responsible for making a meal every night that is nutritious and everyone in my family will eat. Squeezing that meal into a time slot that means we can all sit down together is another challenge in the cooking dinner process. If I had my choice, we'd eat out a whole lot more. Unfortunately, our entertainment budget tells me that's not going to happen. I've been pretty discontent about the whole cooking dinner process the past couple weeks. Because of soccer tournaments and other weekend commitments, most of the money in our entertainment envelope has gone toward eating lunch on the weekends, which means six nights of cooking dinner every week. (In this house, everyone fends for themselves on Sunday night.)
I haven't had the best attitude about feeding my family. There's been lots of mental grumbling in the kitchen around 5:30 every night. To me, cooking dinner is a chore. It's a task that has to be done every day. Some days, I'd honestly rather clean the toilets than figure out what we're having for dinner.
In our lives, there are lots of things that fall under the category of "chore." They are those things that must be done but that we simply don't enjoy. Those things are different for everyone. Some of you think I'm weird because I don't like to cook dinner, but picking up after your kids is a chore for you. Some of you may not care for doing mountains of laundry every week.
Our kids suffer through repetitive tasks they don't enjoy as well. Some of our kids don't like a certain subject at school. Some of them hate cleaning up after the dog. Some don't like practicing their instrument.
Whatever the task, God wants us to do our best. He doesn't want us to whine and complain about the things we don't enjoy. He wants us to do even the tasks we don't care for with a joyful heart. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." Even in the midst of those "chores" we find less than enjoyable, God asks that we find joy in Him.
So, how do we change our attitude and the attitude of our children when it comes to things we consider drudgery? 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 has the answer:
- Rejoice always. Find something in your task to be joyful about. If you're scrubbing the kitchen floor, find joy in the fact you have a floor to scrub. When your child spills their full bowl of cereal all over that clean floor (as mine just did), find joy in the fact you can get down on your hands and knees and help her clean it up. Many people have physical ailments that prevent them from doing that simple task. When your child grouses about doing their chores, remind them to find joy in the fact they get to help out and be a contributing member of your family.
- Pray continually. Add prayer to the equation. While you're doing that thing you dislike, pray. As you fold your sixteenth load of laundry for the week, pray over each family member who wears those clothes. As you cook dinner, pray for the health of your family. Encourage your kids to pray during that class they dislike. Show them how to pray for their teacher and to thank God for the ability to learn.
- Give thanks in all things. It's almost impossible to have an attitude of thankfulness and a grumbling heart at the same time. Replace your grumblings with thankfulness. As you clean the toilets, thank God for the miracle of indoor plumbing. As you vaccuum, thank Him for the ability to live in a clean home. Get your kids into the habit of practicing gratitude, as well. When they grumble, ask them to find one thing about their situation for which they can be thankful.
Memorize 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and use it as a guide for making those unpleasant tasks in your life jobs filled with joy. Your family will grumble less, your attitude will improve and your life will be full of joy.