I recently wrote a post about trying to find purpose in the “small days.” It was quiet and reflective, and full of pretty little metaphors I like to sprinkle over words like powdered sugar on a donut. (See how I did that?) But let’s face it: Sometimes life isn’t all that pretty. Sometimes you just need to fold the laundry and clean your daughter’s slime experiment off the countertops.
I hope you realize that there can be meaning in the small stuff—the nitty-gritty, boring, and simple work that fills up your everyday life. (If your heart tends to doubt that truth, check this out.) God will meet us right in our “small stuff,” if we invite him in.
We may serve simply, but we serve a King. And keeping my eyes on that perspective can mean all the difference between a grouchy, resentful attitude or a heart that feels joy. I know which kind of perspective my family prefers to live with!
So how do we do this, for real? What kind of simple practices could help us keep our hearts in the right place while we’re scrubbing toilets or taking out the trash? I started brainstorming and came up with a few thoughts. I hope you’ll find a couple ideas to add some renewed purpose to your next mundane chore!
- When you go through the checkout line, take the time to ask your cashier a few questions about her day. How long is her shift today? How long has he worked there? Does she have any plans for the weekend? It’s a small thing, but when you stop to ask a question, you acknowledge their presence and humanity—something that’s desperately needed in a world where customers often ignore service providers.
- Research your local news radio, add one to your pre-sets, and listen to a news program at least once a week while you’re driving for carpool or errands. (News podcasts downloaded to your phone are another great option. Here’s a list to consider.)
- Try building this habit: Every time you pump gas, ask yourself “Who’s been filling me up lately?” If someone has been extra helpful or encouraging to you lately, take the moment to send a quick text saying thank-you.
- Buy a small gift for a friend. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Something as simple as a favorite candy bar would make a fun surprise to give next time you see her, and it shows you were thinking about her.
- When you’re stuck in line at a store, take the time to send your husband/friend/child an encouraging or funny text.
- Next time you fold clothes, try this challenge: For every item of clothing you fold, thank God for something in your life.
- Another laundry folding option: Pick a verse or passage of Scripture you’d like to memorize and keep it handy where you do your laundry folding. This could be a great time to memorize Scripture as you fold.
- Listen to an inspiring/educational audiobook or podcast while you fold. There are a lot of great options out there but one I’d recommend for its great combination of lighthearted fun and true, soul-satisfying encouragement is The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey.
- When you put away clean items of clothing, say a prayer for the person whose clothes you are handling.
- Turn on some worship music during your meal prep. Even when it’s one of those revolving door nights and you’re pouring Mac n’ Cheese into a pot, five minutes of praise can remind your heart that God’s with you.
- If you pack lunches for a spouse or kids, tuck in a note reminding them they are loved.
- Next time you clean up dishes and leftovers after a meal, pray for the people in the world who are going hungry right now.
- Invite a family member to help you with food prep (Or if they’re too young, invite them to watch.) Use the time to teach meal preparation and/or just to chat about their day.
- When you pay a bill, ask this: What would life be like if I didn’t have access to this service? Hopefully this will lead to thanksgiving for the services you’re paying for! (And if not, maybe that’s an opportunity to examine whether you need to continue that service.)
- Next time you buy something from a door-to-door fundraiser, tell them you’ll also be praying for the team/school/trip they’re raising money for.
- Tape a note to your vacuum cleaner that says “Who Needs A Prayer?” Hopefully, every time you pull out your vacuum, you’ll remember to lift up a recent prayer request you’ve heard.
- If you’re cleaning up to get ready for a party or get-together, pray a blessing for the people who will be coming into your home.
- When you clean up a room, thank God for some favorite family memories you have shared in that space.
- Try establishing this habit: Every time you sweep a floor, do a quick attitude check: Are there any “crumbs” in your heart—negative emotions like sadness, anger, or anxiety? Take the moment to simply acknowledge what’s there and ask for God’s help in dealing with it.
- If you’re tackling a bunch of cleaning chores at the same time, listen to an educational/inspiring audio book while you work.
- And did I mention podcasts? Seriously. In the past year, podcasts have transformed many of my household chores into great times of learning and soaking in God’s truth! (I just found this list and have some new options I want to check out!)
That’s my list. Now it’s your turn. What ideas do you have for adding some gratitude and growth to your everyday activities? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!