It is all about love! We should remember it not only on February 14, but every day.
We were created for love, but somehow we still get lonely, resentful, frustrated, and pessimistic. What is wrong with our perception? How can we refocus on what our ultimate calling is? How can we remind ourselves that loving others as ourselves is the first and foremost task for every single person?
The answer is in capturing our negative and distractive thoughts and in renewing our minds daily. Even though it takes a lot of concentration and quite a bit of work, it can be achieved.
Practice daily purification of the mind, begin each day with focusing on love. Ask yourself how can you experience love today. Whatever you focus on you bring into your life.
Two days after I posted my previous blog entry Spiritual Desert of a Laundry Room I had a breakfast with a couple of girlfriends. As we were having a great time catching up one of the ladies mentioned a beautiful red lamp she recently purchased for her laundry room. Laundry room? Did I hear her correctly? I was not the only one surprised. We were curious why she decided to decorate her laundry room in a special way.
The answer was unexpected as well as eye opening. For this woman her laundry room has become her spiritual retreat. She loves coming there at night not only to wash clothes for her family of five, but also to enjoy some solitude and prayer time. She decorated it with splashes of color and items she likes to make it cozy and inviting.
Listening to her I thought how a change of perspective could completely switch one’s attitude. Decorating a place you spend a lot of time at and leaving negativity at the door can be revolutionary in a sense how you perceive any task you complete in that space and possibly affect your overall satisfaction with life.
I remember praying for my loved ones on numerous occasions as I did household chores: cooking, cleaning, laundry. My least favorite was ironing. I disliked it since childhood. We did not have a dryer when I was growing up, clothes came out wrinkled after being line dried and it was my responsibility to iron piles of clothes week after week. I became an expert at ironing, but I hated it. Later on even with a dryer there were still things that needed to be pressed. I used to set my ironing board in front of a TV and watch spiritual shows because not even sitcoms worked to sweeten a pill of this task… I also learned to pray more for my husband as I was pressing creases out of his dress shirts. Can you imagine my huge sigh of relief when I was able to send stuff to the cleaners where someone was doing laundry for me? Halleluiah!
Most people I know can easily identify their most and least favorite house chores. For me ironing tops the list of least favorite and it took a lot of prayer not to spiral down into resentment and self-pity when I was doing it.
What I do like is washing dishes by hand. There is something soothing about warm soapy water running through my fingers. It brings me to an almost meditative state of mind and it feels like a mini-retreat. I think that is what my friend experiences when she does laundry in a quiet room at night. Nobody interrupts her thoughts there and she can just be. Often this is as much “me” time as she allows herself.
Having downtime to unwind is necessary for everyone and there are many ways to do it. Often we think it is necessary to allot special time and find a place. But it can be as unorthodox as one’s laundry room or a quiet time by a kitchen sink.
It is funny how house chores can become uplifting spiritual experiences regardless if you like them or not. It’s all in a mindset.
“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” Philippians 2:14-15 ESV
It has been a long day and you are very tired. You cooked and fed dinner to your family, cleaned up the dishes and checked kid’s homework. All you want is go to bed.
You spend your days working, taking care of a family, cooking and cleaning, checking homework and running errands. It is the evening now, almost everything is done and the house is quiet. You are in your laundry room, pairing the socks. Somehow there always a few loose ones… Resentment is building up inside of you, you feel angry, helpless and sad all at once. There you are, in a quiet house, feeling so sorry for yourself. It is late at night and you are exhausted. You are physically, emotionally and spiritually spent…
Does it sound at all familiar? At times like this you may just want to sit down and cry, feeling sorry for yourself. Or you may get angry, harboring resentment towards ungrateful or innocent members of the household. You may begin questioning: ‘Lord, why do I have to do it all by myself? Why there is no help? I know, nobody can do this job better than I can… If I decide to ask someone to help me with laundry or house cleaning, they probably will mess things up! Very likely my sweaters and delicates will be shrunk and my carefully sorted whites will end up being washed with a red t-shirt. Whatever someone else puts away will take me hours to find… That is why I don’t delegate… Yes, I do feel resentful for doing everything by myself and I can’t help it!”
Is there anything wrong with this picture? Do you see any contradiction here? What do you think can help you to begin enjoying your life?
Is it possible you can you get help by delegating the chores? Can you learn to be patient with other people’s mistakes when they are trying to help and contribute? Unfortunately, a common reaction for most of women is to negatively react and unleash anger at the person, usually a loved one or spouse, who was trying to help.
When a person who was sincerely trying to help gets scolded for doing things in a wrong way, he may not offer to help for a long time. This in turn can make you even more resentful and feeling sorry for yourself.
It is never too late to re-focus and get out of this downward spiral of misery. Do you punish a baby when she is making her first steps and falls again and again? My guess is, you just lift her up, encouraging and praising her with smiles and cheering. Why don’t you do it with older children and grown-ups in our lives? Why don’t you smile when looking at a burned dinner someone tried to help you to make and simply say: “Thank you”. It may be worth it to bite your tongue and silence any mocking comments.
Why don’t we allow others to help us even if we know they are not going to do a “perfect” job? Why don’t we kindly ask for help when no one volunteers? Can we communicate love instead of hurt and resentment? How can we accomplish this? How can we become happier and cultivate loving and caring relationships? We should realize achieving positive changes takes work and continuous effort. Sometimes we should ask ourselves are we just generally lazy? Even worse, are we tempted to leave everything as is and resort to unleashing anger at times to the people we love. Is that the kind of life we should be living?
Changes happened when we get to the point where we want them to occur. You can be happy if you use the right approach. Change your perspective. Don’t attempt to change others or make their lives miserable. Establish a new habit of gratitude that leads to happiness. Focus on love. When you feel resentment and anger towards someone try to remember what you appreciate about this person. Focus on what you like about him or her. Meditate on love.
It takes time and effort to build a mutual loving and caring relationship. For a garden to flourish it not only needs to be planted, but fertilized, watered, weeded and pruned. It is our choice to be together with someone. It is our choice to work on connection and partnership. It is our choice to sow kindness and love with generosity of heart to reap joy and peace.
“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19