Grateful for Dirty Dishes: yes, you read that right

grateful for dirty dishesI have a love-hate relationship with dishes. I love discovering a unique piece for my cupboards. I love crackle glass and how it makes everything look so fancy. When I pour coffee into my favorite teal mug and hold it between my palms, all seems right with the world.

But I hate washing them. Nothing annoys or stresses me out more than to come home and see a mountain of dirty dishes encroaching on my counter space. On more than one occasion I have been known to stockpile them to one side, thinking that if I just build a tower in the corner it will delay my fate for another couple hours…or days. How can our tasty dinner so easily turn into a bacteria nightmare?! When my workout for the day consists of scrubbing who knows what out of my pan, it just makes me crabby. I would rather do an entire day of laundry. I would rather scrub toilets. I would rather iron my husband’s dress shirts….no wait. That might be worse. Don’t get me started on those stubborn, antagonizing folds. And those taunting collars.

But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes.

So you can imagine my distress when I started our dishwasher the other week and was met with silence. I think my heart might have skipped a beat. I tried again. Nothing. Our faithful friend had finally breathed its last. And the reality of my future began to set in. I was now the dishwasher. Truth be told, I may have panicked a little.

Now, I am completely capable of washing the dirt off my dishes. After all, I do have two hands. And I did partake in the mess on my plate. But it’s amazing to me (and slightly sad) how dependent we can get on our first-world conveniences. Like electricity. And running water. And hot showers. And dishwashers. Smart phones? Anyone?? It’s like the world is ending if technology stalls for anything longer than a nanosecond.

Over the next two weeks my gratitude for our appliance surged with every hour I spent washing dishes. My aching joints and muscles became a constant reminder of the little blessing I had so easily taken for granted.

Then something unexpected happened. I was shocked to discover that at the end of those two weeks I was actually grateful for the inconvenience. The chore I found the most irritating actually became a utensil for growth in my life. At least three times a day, I stood in front of the sink, hands drenched in bubbles, mindlessly rubbing pots and pans. Stuck with nothing better to do and a knack for getting bored, my mind wandered. I started with my to-do list, but soon found myself reflecting on a variety of topics: my marriage, friendships, family, health, this blog, etc. As my hands turned into prunes, my heart turned to the Lord. I wondered about my fears and why I was so afraid of them. I thought about my insecurities, about my role in life, and reflected on my personal journey with God. I wondered how I could practically reflect God’s character to my husband, how I could be more vulnerable with friends, how I could embrace new challenges instead of disengaging. For a monotonous task, it was surprisingly rewarding.

Had I not experienced the inconvenience, I may not have heard the message. We are often so busy that a week can easily pass us by without a moment to reflect on the experiences we’ve had day in and day out. Or, for that matter, how God is moving and what He may be saying through those experiences. I believe God used the simple task of washing dishes to provide me with the ample time I needed to process, chew-on, and digest the lessons He wanted to teach me. He had my time. He had my attention. He had my heart. Little could have distracted me with my feet shoulder-width apart, my eyes staring blankly at the wall. And His message was something I so desperately needed to hear.

The next annoyance you experience could be more than just a long line, a traffic jam, or dirty dishes. God might be making some room in your busy life so He can teach you something or speak to your heart. So embrace the interruption. Seize the opportunity. Take the time to listen.

Who knows? Interruptions and inconveniences may just be a blessing in disguise.

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