Blessed Inconvenience

After over four months of furlough in the US, here I am again hand washing dishes, cooking from scratch, and hanging clothes to dry (at least for the past several months since my dryer broke),  and I am seeing how many of the “inconveniences” of life here that I have so often sought to minimize actually carry with them a quite wonderful blessing.

This past summer was exhausting as we ran here and there, doing way more each day than I am used to. Part of this was just the reality of trying to fit so much into a short period of time (any of you who have been back on furlough can totally relate I’m sure!), but I also think part of what stressed me out was a pressure that I felt to do a bazillion things every day, and that I could actually do it since there were so many conveniences to eliminate much of the mundane daily work that I’ve become accustomed to. Pre-made food, jumbo sized washers, dryers, dish washers, one-stop shopping, a personal back yard where the kids could play without constant supervision giving me more time to get more things done as they played…

Are these things bad? No way! I love the convenience of America!! This is a huge blessing and privileged aspect of our culture. What a blessing to find ways to create time in our days! What happened for me though was that with all of this saved time each day, I kept packing in more and more stuff that often required greater emotional energy than scrubbing dishes or hanging laundry. Though my days were often full of wonderfully fun and meaningful experiences, those quiet moments usually spent on mundane work were greatly minimized, often leaving me completely exhausted!

I remember my mom telling me that when computers were first being invented, the idea was that eventually people’s work would be decreased to a mere couple of hours a day due to increased productivity. Has that happened? Of course not! We work the same number of hours, and often more, and have now have simply increased our standard of productivity! Please don’t get me wrong, I am all in favor of productivity, but I personally experienced a great loss when my productivity increased at the expense of the peaceful and apparently restorative mundane.

Since our return, though the amount of work that I need to do each day just to keep our household running has increased greatly, I  feel so much more healthy and at peace with my life. Washing dishes is a chore and consumes hours of my week, but I can think, and pray, and just let my mind wander as I do this monotonous but stress-free task. I don’t enjoy the task of hanging laundry and can’t wait for the day that my little dryer is repaired, but at the same time, I have found myself glad for the quiet moments that demand simply hanging things neatly in rows on racks. No-stress. It is often inconvenient to have to go out of the apartment every time the kids need time to play outside, but it forces me to be outside, away from my house work, away from projects, away from the computer, just with the kids and in the fresh (or sometimes fresh) air.

I am all in favor of streamlining tasks and redeeming time, and sometimes I crave to spend those moments spent on laundry and dishes on other things that would seem more worthwhile, but sometimes monotony is a blessing too! Since these sorts of mundane tasks are a non-negotiable part of my daily life, I am thankful that God used this experience to help me dread them less and see them even as a blessing.

What do you think? How do you view the mundane tasks in your life? I pray that you might received these things in your own life as a blessing today!

(Post by: Ashley)


11 Responses to “Blessed Inconvenience”

  1. 1 Becka November 14, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    I too take dishwashing time to pray. And I must hang my laundry on the roof which overlooks the city. This gives me some wonderful time to reflect on how God is working in my city as well as to pray. i never would have that opportunity to stop and remember if I was just shoving a wet load into a dryer.

    The other “inconvenience” I have been blessed with is that of not owning a car. The city does have public transportation, but in an effort to save money, we walk everywhere. At one point my weight was 217 pounds. It is now 160, which is within the normal weight range for my height! Praise God for inconveniences!!!

  2. 2 Megan S. November 14, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    I’m on month 5 of an extended furlough and I am just now feeling ‘stuffed’ by my American conveniences. I gorged in the beginning, going to the store all the time in a car and letting my kids play and eat whatever. Now I know our time is coming to a close and I am looking forward (a little) to life at the rest of the world’s pace again. You hit the nail on the head with this post. Thanks for sharing. I’m totally with you!

  3. 3 richelle November 14, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    nothing more to say than to simply say, “Amen!”

  4. 4 Missional Mama November 15, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    so true, we go have for three months next year and I am planning a full schedule already to fit everything in. What a good reminder to enjoy the process of a slower life here in the meantime, even if it means dishes by hand, meals from scratch, and so on.


  5. 5 jodymccomas November 16, 2011 at 12:56 am

    I often find myself wishing we were overseas doing ministry for this very reason. Life is just too full here too often. I’m constantly trying to slow it down so that I can enjoy the day and not get so caught up in accomplishing 20 things and feeling ragged as a result.

  6. 6 Ashley L November 16, 2011 at 4:32 am

    Jody, I have such amazing appreciation for all of the dear moms called to live and serve in the US! You guys fight a challenging battle against the expectation to be super-moms doing a billion things every day that is just not the same in other parts of the world. I am praying for you dear moms in the US as you serve and deal with this pressure and try to fight to keep life healthy despite this demand.

  7. 7 Shilo November 16, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Very well said, Ashley. I often think that the mundane is our greatest opportunity for worship.

  8. 8 Patty November 17, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Ashley, you hit the nail on the head! I’m right in the middle of furlough now, and I feel so rushed, pulled, and overwhelmed some days. How I long for a few days with just a long list of “mundane” things to do! My challenge this furlough is definitely learning to have a quiet and content heart in this land of plenty!

  9. 9 Phyllis November 20, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Wow. Thank you for writing this. You explained something that I have not been able to figure out for myself. Why are those visits to the states so hard for me? I mean, life is easier there, so why is it so hard? You hit it right on with your explanation. Thank you.

    You even inspired me to get up and go do the dishes, too. 🙂

    And I just came up with a Tuesday question to send you….

  10. 10 Kara Coe November 21, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    When we were stuck in the States for a longer season than usual, I had such a hard time coming up with ideas for dinner. Eventually, I realized that I just expected that dinner in America should come easy. I shouldn’t have to plan, shouldn’t have to think in the morning what to have for dinner. I think so much of my re-entry stress everytime we’re in the States comes from the expectation that “life in America is easy.” And each time, it’s proven to me that life anywhere can be hard.

    I have a theory that women were meant to do the tedious chores in community with other women. I love talking to my sister (on the phone) while I clean up the kitchen. But my healthiest seasons of life are when I use that time for scripture meditation and memorizing. Amazing how quick the time flies when you’re trying to pray for everyone according to the verse you’re meditating on, or to run through a chapter of the Bible. Communing with God is truly a blessing of tedious chores!

  1. 1 Medical answers, new teammates, and a dishwasher! « The Latvalas in Russia Trackback on June 23, 2012 at 2:09 pm

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