January 4 – Work
Do you ever get to a place in your week, your day, your life, that feels like pure work? These times can be so trying and even lonely. I had a moment of what felt like utter hopelessness this past week. It happened last year about this same time, so I know it must not be a coincidence. We come barreling into Christmas like “ready-or-not” and we’re meeting deadlines, and planning all the things, and buying all the things, and we’re fa-la-la-la-ing our little hearts out… Then, we hit New Year’s like “Hello! I comin’ for ya!” And something just pops your balloon. Yep, only two days into the new year, and my balloon was popped.
The house is forever trashed and still covered in toys. I pick them up and they breed again. The cookies are stale, so I can’t retreat into sugar bliss. The kids are whiny from lack of sleep and said post sugar bliss. They are fighting over their new toys, and you’re ready for a tap-out, except you are the mom and ain’t no one coming to the rescue here. It’s cold and dreary and even scheduling a playdate feels like work, so you accept your fate as a January shut-in who clearly needs to perk up and get their act together…
And suddenly, your whole life just turned into one big to-do list and everything and everyone just looks like a whole lotta work.
That was me.
I’m still coming out of that fog, but I feel like God showed me something today, and I’d love to share it with you.
What if your purpose is simply lost in translation?
I almost always read Scripture in my ESV Journaling Bible. It’s a great translation and pretty accurate from what I can tell. My husband is really into translations and their authenticity to the original Hebrew and Greek, and he also likes the NASB (New American Standard Bible). When we really want to get literal and don’t have a concordance handy, he recommends turning to the YLT (Young’s Literal Translation). Sometimes, the passages don’t flow as poetically, because the purpose is to literally translate the original to English, and there just aren’t always English words for what the Hebrew is conveying. It’s actually literal. So after reading this Scripture I’m about to reference in the ESV (English Standard Version), I decided to take a gander at the YLT, and, boy, am I glad that I did.
I’m sure you’ll see why.
Genesis 2:15 reads:
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Seems pretty straightforward, right? Kind of what I was expecting, too. God put Adam in the garden and said it’s yours, take care of it.
That’s kind of how I feel with my life, my home, and my people most days. God put me here and I need to work (clean up, cook, manage the household, the schedules, schooling, etc.) and take care (tend to, love, bathe, feed, listen, meet needs, fix boo boos, etc.) of them. This is my role, my job, and God put me here to do it. Suck it up, Buttercup, and put your game face on! Right?!
Maybe yes, but not like that…
What if understanding my call and seeing it through a different lens could change everything?
Check out the literal translation:
And Jehovah God taketh the man, and causeth him to rest in the garden of Eden, to serve it, and to keep it.
Some of you may be thinking, “What’s the big deal?” But for some of you, I hope light bulbs are going off – especially if you’re struggling lately, too.
There’s such a difference between “put” and “taketh” and “causeth”. Imagine someone putting you in a job. There’s not a lot of say in that, right? The boss put you there, and you are expected to perform your tasks. But now imagine your boss leading you to a place, created just for you, and influencing you in such a way that it causes you to act. God has created this life for us, and He has led us to this place with the hope and expectation that when He moves on our hearts, we will move and act from a place of free will and desire.
Now, let’s compare the remaining parts of that Scripture.
In the ESV, and in most translations, we are told that He puts the man there to “work”, “cultivate”, “dress.” All of these words, when you consider their meaning, seem completely fine! I mean, why wouldn’t God want Adam to prepare and develop and care for the garden? He was the caretaker. But when we read the literal translation, the imagery shifts entirely.
“…causeth him to rest in the garden of Eden, to serve it, and to keep it.”
Rest in the garden.
Are you resting in your garden? I know I’m not. I want to, but I have let the busyness of life and my own expectations of myself and my household drag me to a place of total unrest. First and foremost, God has led us to our places to rest. And then what? To serve it…
What would it be like if you went to a restaurant and your server treated you the way we sometimes treat our spouses or our children? “If I have to pick up that fork you dropped one. more. time!” Or how about this one… “My gosh! You are the messiest group of people! I don’t get paid enough to clean up after you!” You would think that was the worst service, and you’d be right. But, we turn around and treat our loved ones as though caring for them is such hard work. You know what, it is! But, if the attitude of our hearts are right, then we will serve them from a place of rest and see the act of serving as a privilege and not a chore.
We GET to love these people!
We GET to clean these dirty floors!
We GET to wake up and breathe and laugh and hug!
And we are NEEDED! If you are annoyed and find yourself thinking someone under 5 ft. tall is obnoxious at least once a day, that’s probably a good sign that you are needed. lol
All of this stuff – this messy garden – it’s ours to keep. It’s a gift and a treasure.
And when life gets you down or you feel like you’re drowning in your responsibilities, take a minute, close your eyes, and see the garden for what it is: lots of dirt and mess, endless weed-pulling, planting seeds, watering, pruning, etc…
At face value it sounds like work.
Now, close your eyes and imagine tending to that same garden, but you’re not alone. The Lord is pulling weeds in the row next to you. He’s passing the watering can. He’s blessing and throwing seeds into the dirt you just prepared. He’s taking your hand and pulling you over to see your first bud – proof that life is coming from your hours spent serving that place in the earth. Serving. We are serving with Him. We are serving for Him. We are serving through Him.
And this mess is a good place. It’s a restful place. It’s a life-giving place. It’s your place. Keep it.
Klover House Christmas:
There are multiple studies out there showing us that there is a correlation between stress and clutter. You’ve probably seen articles suggesting that and have probably read posts divulging life hacks and cleaning hacks and “what-to-throw-away-when-your-kids-aren’t-looking” hacks… Right?! We probably all have areas of clutter in our homes and even minds! Mind-clutter can be worse than paper piles!
One thing I committed to a couple of years ago was minimalism. I found myself yelling at my little kids all of the time to clean up, but then I’d buy them a new toy for filling up a chore chart! What the what?! Totally bonkers. I was rewarding them with stuff that was going to get them into trouble and have them failing in my eyes the next day!
Even though I realized this was an issue in our home, I had a hard time starting with the toys. So, I started with my closet. I took the KonMari Method to heart and donated every single thing that no longer brought me joy. If the fit was wonky, if it was a $5 tee that I bought because it was $5, if I hadn’t worn it in more than two years…I donated it! And guess what? That was about 75% of my clothing! Surprisingly, I was happier, because I realized that I loved what I had left, and I felt good wearing it. I kept a cardigan that I treated myself to for a ridiculous amount of money and a cardigan that is ridiculously riddled with holes (and not the intentional, distressed kind, but the real deal kind). It didn’t matter! If I loved it, and it made me feel good, it stayed.
Once I found that freedom with my stuff, it was much easier to take a good, honest look at my kids’ stuff and even our household stuff. I sold our entire set of dishes for less than $20! All of those wedding gifts…gone. I told myself that they served us well for eight years, and I actually did not need a sixteen piece dinnerware set for our family of six. I went to TJ Maxx and bought eight white dinner plates and eight white salad plates and called it a day. I still can’t believe the amount of empty space in my kitchen! Less dishes = less washing= happier lady. And I have noticed the magic of having less makes you care for your things with intention and appreciation!
All that to say, it’s that time of year again in which we are all purging excess in an attempt to free up our space and our minds. I say, do it! You will be so glad that you did! And now that I have, I have found that I buy less “junk”, and I have the energy to organize what we do have. There’s less to deal with, so everything truly can have a place.
Some people and accounts I follow and love are:
Tricia of Clean House with Kids (mom of 5, minimalist, WAHM, homeschooling) Tricia’s IG: @cleanhousewithkids
Abby of Just a Girl and Her Blog and Abby Organizes (organizes ALL. THE. THINGS., smart space-planning, hacks, and genius ideas) Abby’s IG: @abbyorganizes
(My Meal Planning post is actually on her site as well if you could use some pointers! Just click here: Klover House Meal Planning)