I beamed with satisfaction as I folded the last pair of socks. Feeling a renewed sense of vigor, I decided to get a head start on tomorrow’s laundry.
I turned to my daughter, who was sitting in the chair reading, and asked, “Would you mind grabbing the clothes from your hamper, as well as your brother’s and sister’s?”
My eager beaver raced from the room. A second later, she was back, pushing a bulging hamper with all her might. My eyes widened in shock.
“Wow. Thanks! I—” I began.
“Hang on! I’ll be right back with the rest!” she called, racing off again.
How could there possibly be more?
I gazed open-mouthed on the new mound of clothing. With three kids in the house, I sometimes wonder if the laundry has babies of its own.
Ah, laundry—the chore that never ends.
Whether it’s Christmas time or laundry time, the demands of life provide abundant source material for complaining.
“Do I have to buy a present for Uncle Herbie?”
“Ugh. Why do they put up decorations before Halloween??”
“I still haven’t finished my Christmas cards and I only have 17 more days!”
“Why do these charities keep pestering me for money when I hardly have enough to buy our gifts?!”
“Look out… Aunt Mildred made her eggnog again…”
The question is, will we choose to spend our lives complaining about everything, or will we change our outlook?
Let’s go back to laundry. I could easily crack a hundred complaints—disguised as jokes—to bear up under my clothing load, but I would gain far more benefit if I chose to wear gratitude, rather than grumbling, as the prized garment of my heart.
Here is what I should remember as I look at my laundry pile:
I have a family.
There are children who would love to have parents. There are adults who long to have children. There are parents who miss their grown children and would happily wash their dirty socks again, just to have them around. Single people long to be married and widows miss their spouse. My laundry pile stands as a tangible reminder that I have people in my life at this moment to love and care for. Instead of grumbling about the chore, I should give thanks today for the blessing of having my spouse and children with me.
I have clothes.
The jeans may have holes, the shirts may be fading, and that sweater from five years ago is totally outdated, but at least I have something to cover my body. As cold weather creeps in, I should be thankful to have a jacket instead of complaining about washing one. God has given me what I need to stay warm and modest, and that is worth being thankful for.
Furthermore, the mound of laundry indicates that I have more than one outfit and my family members have more than one outfit. Less than a century ago, many people had 1-2 work outfits and their Sunday best. Some would say they were lucky to have that!
Be thankful for your abundance. If you want to minimize your wardrobe (and your laundry load), find a local charity and donate some local clothes. Better yet, buy some clothes to donate to the homeless. (My cousin, who frequently works with the homeless, says socks are typically the most needed and least donated).
I have the ability to clean my clothes
I wouldn’t be able to clean my clothes without access to water and soap. Water is essential to life, and the fact that I have it in abundance is something I take for granted far too often. Last year, after a particularly hard freeze, our pipes froze and we went without running water for three days. That experienced gave me a whole new appreciation for running water. Give thanks to God for the blessings He has given you—modern conveniences, running water, and more!
We can take this practice one step further:
When folding a pair of socks or hanging another shirt, ask the Lord to bless the person who wears them. Take the opportunity to pray for that person—for their health, spiritual needs, etc.
When buying and wrapping gifts, say a prayer for the person receiving it.
When washing the dishes, offer a short prayer of thanks for the Lord providing food and the means to eat it under sanitary conditions.
Instead of fussing over the lack of Christmas lights on your house, give thanks to God for providing electricity to heat your home during the cold winter.
When buying your holiday goodies, give thanks for the abundance and share a bag of groceries with a family in need.
We can choose to be clothed in grumbling or choose to be clothed in gratitude. We can fuss over our petty #FirstWorldProblems or be thankful we live in a free country. We can roll our eyes at the holiday rush or give thanks for the one who truly gives us something worth celebrating.
What will you wear today? Gratitude or Grumbling?
Elihu Anderson is a surviving California native currently thriving in West Texas. When she isn’t writing for Elihu’s Corner, she is teaching, researching, walking, and book-worming with a cup of chai. Visit Elihu at elihuscorner.com