By Janet Villa
Editor’s Note: OSM! joyfully shares a video about Janet Villa as an adoptive mom to Anna. A wonderful story of appointed, unconditional love.
On the eve of my birthday, two hours into Black Saturday, I am scrubbing the bathroom walls and washing the shower curtain. The chore is not an act of penitence; I cannot improve on Christ’s finished and complete work on the Cross. Rather, the chore is among the countless others that breed daily in our nanny-less household.
I try to find beauty in housework—it is the only way I can stomach it. I wonder if Jesus had to do housework. In the 30 years before he launched into the world, he must’ve done housework. He was a carpenter; he must have had to file his tools, stack wood, sweep away shavings, wash the floors. Perhaps his housework was also his form of service. Perhaps the work of his hands was human, but his thoughts were divine. Towards the end of his earth journey, he said, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4).
I’d like to be able to say that too. With my mothering days chockfull of chores on top of commitments to clients, I realize that the work I was given to do includes housework. How could I bring His glory on earth with chores?
I read that the term avodah is a Hebrew transliterated term for both worship and work. Perhaps there is a connection? Colossians 3:23 encourages me to work at everything I do—including housework—with all my heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. My heart, it seems, is key. Ephesians 6:7-8 inspires the same, for me to “serve wholeheartedly” as if I were serving the Lord, not people.
I need a new heart—a whole heart. Like that of Jesus who said that God “is always at his work to this very day.” As he also was. “I too am working,” Jesus said (John 5:17).
Behind meaningful housework is love. Love is the distinctive. 1 Corinthians 13:3 says, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”
If I cook, if I scrub, if I wash, but have not love, then I am nothing, have nothing, profit nothing. If I care for my family and do chores just to get these over with because “I have more important things to do,” then I profit nothing. Love is the summary, just as it had been for Jesus when he gave up his life so that we may live and live abundantly.
Housework, in a life of abundance, is yet another way to practice the presence of God.
This is the joy in housework that I hope to find: that it is to be “received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4-5). I apply these verses because somehow it feels right to include housework in the phrase “in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11). It is my heart—if found grateful, rejoicing and unceasing in prayer—that will distinguish housework as sacred, not secular. For what does the word holy mean, if not something set apart?
Oh that the Lord will grant me the grace to lift up housework to Him as worship and to my family as a love language. The dare is to find joy where I usually do not find any.
May Love and love guide your days.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Janet Villa practiced Law for nine years before she received a fellowship to the Philippine National Writers’ Workshop and to the UP National Workshop. Her first published sotry “Undercurrents” won the NVM Grand Prize in 2003, and her sond “Closopen” won the NVM Grand Prize Special Prize in 2005. She is now finishing her MA in Creative Writing. Her biggest adventure is being best for husband Jojo and daughter Anna, while pursuing her passions in writing and teaching. Janet maintains CreW, the creating writing special interest group of Mensa Philippines after being the Mensa Philippines president in 1998.