Updated: Sep 19
This morning I saw dirty dishes in our sink! I know, it’s not an earth-shattering event. But, for a moment, I was appalled by the mess. Okay, maybe that’s just a little dramatic, but, honestly, I hate dirty dishes! They drive me crazy! Neurotic? Maybe. OCD? Possibly. Whatever the prognosis, the truth is, I want to walk into our kitchen and see a clean sink. That’s why I’m the official unofficial cleaner of dishes at our home.
When Tonya and I were first married, she made it very clear that an empty sink wasn’t a priority. She didn’t feel the need to clean the dishes immediately after dinner and didn’t blink an eye if they were left in the sink overnight. To me, that was cleaning blasphemy! To add salt into my cleaning wounds, she made sure to look directly at me, with a devilish grin, while she placed her dirty dishes in the sink with—I might add—no intention of cleaning them!
Dirty dishes are a metaphor of all those annoying daily tasks that need to get done. Adulting at its maddening, frustrating worst. It’s a never-ending list that includes:
cat box cleaning
homework and school projects
dance rehearsal and, of course,
Dirty dishes are not cancerous. They aren’t contributors to a long-term debilitating injury. They are not responsible for my struggles in my relationships. Dirty dishes won’t kill me, but they can take my joy. . . if I let them. Full disclosure: I have let the daily dirty dishes of life kill my joy.
I’ve also defeated these joy killers. It sounds funny to name dirty dishes as killers, but they are: they are killers of joy. Well, let me rephrase that; they can be killers of my joy if I choose to let it happen.
So, what do we do to keep our joy intact? Is there an exercise routine, eating regimen, or positive thinking plan that will help keep my joy alive? All three are good supplements. I use them. But real joy is found in God, in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
When my lawn looks like a jungle, I look to God. When I have too many bills for my budget, I look to God. When the homework, recitals, diapers, and practices seem too much to handle, I look to God. I look to the truth.
He is with me. He is for me. He gives me strength. He loves me. He gives me peace. Just to name a few.
Paul, the great missionary, understood the dirty dishes plight. He was a business owner, a religious leader, a political figure, and he had many that wanted him imprisoned or dead. He also had to deal with his dirty dishes:
cleaning the camel
folding the tent
setting up appointments
cleaning his clothes
mapping the next missionary steps
dusting off sandals
It seems the key was looking to God and not getting caught up in the dirty-dish weeds. I’m sure he had his moments. He probably complained. We all do, but he didn’t seem to wallow in his dirty dish issues. How did he do that?
He kept looking to God. He wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
I have choices to make. You do, too. When we want to complain about our dishes, let’s keep in mind Paul’s words. Let’s choose to rejoice that God is with us in our dirty dishes. Let’s pray for God’s help as the dishes pile up. Let’s thank God despite the dirty dishes.
Three simple keys to remember:
We can have joy despite our dirty dishes. It’s up to us to look to God. Otherwise, we’ll get focused on the dishes in our life’s sink, feel overwhelmed, and maybe even appalled.
David Towner is the author of Today Is My Favorite Day and the Pastor of The Harbor Church in Odessa, Fl. He is married to Tonya and together they have three daughters and four grandsons.