It’s a funny thing.
On Friday of last week, I was bemoaning my utter lack of usefulness as a human being. I honestly don’t know why the zombie apocalypse is a concept in my mind, but I know for darned certain that nobody in their right mind picks me to be in a bunker with them on that dreadful and fictitious day. My husband, in a sweeping and gallant gesture, tried to disagree with me: “Of course someone would pick you! The zombies would be distracted eating you while the people who picked you got away to safety!”
Plays a bit fast and loose with the person who cooks all his meals, doesn’t he?
My point, however, is that there seem to be people who intuitively know how to do or find or learn to do the things they need. They figure out how to call taxis in unfamiliar cities, they read that flax seed can be a substitution for eggs (I cannot get over the grossness enough to implement this information, so it doesn’t really count as “knowing” it), they crawl under the hoods of cars and dishwashers and diagnose things. I, on the other hand, sidle up next to the nearest crowd of drunk people because I figure maybe they won’t notice if I get into their taxi with them, I shrug helplessly at vegans and lick the egg-laden bread crumbs off my fingers, and I call my husband for absolutely everything — even if I happen to be 500 miles away when said hood needs crawling under. Perhaps the spiritual lesson here ought to be about being content with my ineptitude and shouldn’t useful people get to use their gifts too? But instead, my washing machine died.
The death bells tolled on Saturday morning, and because, while not useful, I am efficient, I panicked not. I was caught up on the laundry… with one odd, notable exception. See, Saturday was a happy sort of zoo — company, Sabbath feasting, the works. And my family, bless their generous hearts, had pitched in and folded and put away a bunch of laundry the night before. Again — all wonderful. Except that somewhere in the process, my underwear vanished.
Now, I don’t mean to be precious about this. It’s just that I only have about three functional pairs and I was wearing one and did I mention the washing machine died? It felt important. Important enough that I grilled each and every child as to where they had put the underwear — uncomfortable on more levels than the prospect of accompanying the church on the piano Sunday and sitting on a cold bench. But each progeny insisted they had never seen the items in question. I had them tear about their drawers in search of my drawers, convinced that static electricity was to blame and that I would find them hiding (no doubt maliciously) inside the sleeve of a pajama top, or worse, stuck to the gingham tablecloth I planned to spread the next time we had company for dinner. Chilling prospects one and all. It was Sunday before my husband sheepishly remembered where he had put them… incidentally, this revelation helped me find a few other items of clothing that had gone missing as well. When in doubt, assume everything is a sock.
But I digress. This particular death has led to a tremendous opportunity to leap forward in my quest to become useful, so what did I do? Well… I called my mom. Obviously. She is about the most useful person I know. It was she who planted the idea in my head about doing the wash in the bathtub…
I respect your intelligence too much to pretend that washing four days of laundry for six people, one of whom works out in the dirt (did I also mention bath day?) was an elegant affair. My technique certainly needed honing. You recall those wooden lawn ornaments of yesteryear that involved a bent over female of uncertain age tucked into the flowerbeds, her red and white polka dotted bloomers poking up?
You know what, given what you already know about my underwear situation, perhaps you should stop visualizing.
Clothes soaked, piles strewn across the bathroom and hallway, and I opted to stomp around in the soapy clothes by way of agitation (it was agitating to me anyway) and apparently I made it look fun, because my youngest hopped in with me and we belted out the latest song we are learning to sing (https://youtu.be/jN_dEADIitA ).
(Side note: turns out our adventure into laundering by hand was stressful on more than just my low back. I actually managed to flip the breaker to the hot water heater, which we sadly did not figure out until my husband went to take his shower that night… let’s just say all the leaping and bellowing more than paid for his comment about my being the first gazelle picked off at the zombie watering hole.)
Ok, you’re right. This story has gone on long enough. But what struck me as I was attempting to wring out 45,000 gallons of water by hand whilst squatted over my bathtub was that there is a creeping lie that likes to make appearances in the dark corners of my assumptions about what it means to be an excellent housewife: that usefulness is next to godliness. The fact is, what I have, I offer up to God in Christ Jesus. The end. The works I am doing have been prepared for me in advance, and they are good because He makes them good. I come from a long line of useful and beautiful women and I will continue to strive to imitate them, but my worth is not rooted in how successful I am at meeting the standards I set for myself. I can laugh well, I can rejoice in all the useful people I stand next in this life, because I am free from the burden of trying to cover myself — I do not need to scurry into the drawers of pride and self-sufficiency to find the good underwear to cover my nakedness. I am clothed in Christ.
Going commando never felt so good.