Today I attacked the kind of cleaning chores that I envision other more diligent and domestically devoted women doing all the time, the tidying that requires pulling furniture away from the wall, vacuuming under beds, and applying a ferocious dust cloth to the rungs of chairs and the hidden recesses of bookcases.
Homely household routines are the background music behind everything else I do. Studying and ministry preparation are accompanied by the hum of a washer and the cadence of continual meal preparation. In the winter, a voracious wood stove requires care and feeding; in the summer, there’s a garden that needs attention.
This steady thrum of activity is the glue that holds a home together, and one of the most startling discoveries of my life has been that it is possible to find a fulfilled and meaningful existence in the midst of mind-numbing routine. It turns out that it’s not mainly *what you’re doing* that makes a life. It’s *why you’re doing it*. And no one taught me that lesson more powerfully than Elisabeth Elliot.
Author and Housekeeper
Twenty-seven years ago, I packed up my favorite coffee mug, my personal files, and a few samples of my work and walked away from my career in human resources. Four babies in eight years, homeschooling, church ministry, and a huge vegetable garden each year left little time for deep study, but early on I dove into Elliot’s writing with zeal and found myself being mentored through her books.
I soon discovered that Elliot was quick to trace the connection between the routines of domesticity and the mysteries of spiritual practice. Although she became a sought-after public speaker, and her words reached (and still reach) literally millions via print and radio ministries, she actually claimed to enjoy housekeeping most of all, for she knew how to do it, and (unlike authoring a book) she knew what the results would be. Her attention to detail was fostered in part by her boarding school headmistress, who pronounced, “Don’t go around with a Bible under your arm if you haven’t swept under your bed.” She didn’t want a lot of spiritual talk coming from someone with a dirty floor.
With her perfect diction, ironic humor, and crisp, no-nonsense delivery of gospel truth, Elliot has impacted my teaching and my parenting like no one else, but she has also hugely shaped my attitude toward domestic chores. I’m writing about the gift of Elisabeth’s influence for Desiring God, and invite you to click on over and join me there.
Joining you in the commitment to daily faithfulness,
It turns out that it’s not mainly what you’re doing that makes a life. It’s why you’re doing it. And no one taught me that lesson more powerfully than #ElisabethElliot.Tweet
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