I spent part of two days cleaning my kitchen floor last week. The linoleum flooring is ancient and hasn’t looked clean in the five years we have lived in this house. Don’t get me wrong, the floor’s been mopped before, but this time I did it the old fashioned way—on my hands and knees with a scrub brush.
After a search online, I decided vinegar would be my cleaning aid of choice. I used a bottle and a half of the stuff. One part of me was disgusted by the color of the water/vinegar solution each time I rinsed out the bucket and another part of me delighted in the fact that my floor was finally receiving a good, deep clean.
You never know what kind of thoughts will wander into your head while cleaning your floor. As I scrubbed, I realized certain tasks—laundry, washing dishes, pulling weeds, scrubbing the bathroom toilet, to name a few—are mundane. They are humbling jobs. Unless you are the Queen, LeBron, or the world’s greatest pop star, you probably have to do at least some type of mundane task on occasion. These jobs don’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter that I have a college degree or that I teach English at a college prep school or that I will soon be a published author. My kitchen floor couldn’t care less about any of that. It simply needed to be cleaned and someone had to do it.
This kind of work is important. Dare I say it? Perhaps as important as the work that I am paid to do? Scrubbing the kitchen floor on my hands and knees and sweating up a storm is far different from standing in front of my classroom in professional dress, discussing scenes from To Kill a Mockingbird. But these mundane tasks keep me grounded to reality and remind me that satisfaction (even joy?) can be found in completing ordinary, everyday chores. No awards. No recognition. No pay raises.
Once I finished cleaning the floor, I did feel that sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. I knew I worked hard at the job. Believe me, my arms and knees reminded me more than once.The job also contained an increasing level of satisfaction. The more I scrubbed the more I saw the difference my hard work made. Crevices that were filled with grime slowly changed color as I pushed the brush back and forth, back and forth.
The fact that I cleaned my kitchen floor is not headline news. No one (except perhaps my family) will congratulate me for a job well done. But I realized again the value of doing work that is really quite humbling in many respects. We often apply Paul’s words in Colossians 3:23 to our careers. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord. I think Paul would tell us to broaden our view of work. The Lord has graciously given us everything we have—our intellect, our bodies, our talents, our homes, our things. So whether I am cleaning my kitchen floor, or washing my family’s laundry, or loading the dishwasher, this work matters too. It reminds me not to think too highly of myself. It reminds to take pleasure in simple tasks. It reminds me to thank God for all of his provisions in my life.
This reminds me of the small book entitled “The Quotidian Mysteries” by Kathleen Norris. Have you read it? I have just started it.
I have and it’s a gem. Thanks for the comment, Lindsey.
Spot on Alicia!