There are times in every day when I am hanging out with my kids, just one on one, and idly chatting… and it is almost always when we are doing chores. We fold laundry together, we wash dishes and clean up together. We were folding laundry the other day, and a “little less than enthusiastic” young person mentioned to me that I should write a post about “when your yes really means yes…” After a long and grumpy day, they really just couldn’t get their heart into chores and I gave them a break. I get that, I totally get that… and as usual my children are training my heart.
So I pursued the conversation… “Well grown-ups always say: “because my no means no…”” How true is that, it is a Bible verse after all, Matthew 5:37, we often feel quite justified in saying a number of things because, “our no means no.” Now I am not for one moment suggesting that our “no’s” don’t mean “no…” But how annoying is it to be on the receiving end of that all the time. This little person was quite right about wanting our “yes’s to really mean yes.”
I for one do not want to raise an army of children to say “yes” just because they must, I want them to say yes because they can and because they want too… ambitious in a world full of folk “looking after number one.” But when faced with a sink of dishes on a Saturday morning, when everyone else is busy relaxing, instead of grumbling, just stopping to be grateful for full tummies and plates to eat off… can make the world of difference to how dishwashing will sound, the splish and splash of cheerful dishwashing is very different to the crash and bash of an unwilling helper!!!
How often have you read posts like Se7en Silly Reasons Why Moms Say No… and thought hmmm, I am so inspired, I am really going to figure out a way to say “yes,” much more often… Well this isn’t about saying yes more often and a whole lot more about saying yes and meaning it. An enthusiastic and resounding “yes,” is so much more of a gift than a run of the mill, “yes, because you say so.”
I am thinking it is all about our attitude and as your kids get older, it isn’t just your own attitude!!! I know when my kids were small if I was happy then they were happy, a lot depended on my own attitude. But as they get older, and then much older… attitude very much becomes matter of their own hearts. Yes, if one of us is walking around like the proverbial grumpy cloud it will affect all of us, and there is nothing like the great martyrs that sometimes reside in our house… and it isn’t just the children who can be fuming because the kitchen that was neat at bedtime looks like some monsters had a party in it over-night. Have you ever got to a chore that you thought was done… and then sighed and said: “Well I’ll do it then,” when you discovered it wasn’t.
But God loves a cheerful giver, and not just givers of cash… we are talking time and effort and energy here. How do we teach our kids to be cheerful givers? Well ask any tiny person to help you with chores – they are willing and eager and they will run the extra mile for you. But we grow out of that and our hearts really do appear to grow harder. We would all rather read a book than get dinner going, or lie in bed a little longer and hope the laundry takes care of itself. Turns out in order for our children to learn how to be cheerful they really need to see it in action. And while we are good at the bigger things: giving up our weekend to help a friend, giving up your bedroom so that a visitor from out of town can stay the night, we are still working on the little things. I see sparks of enthusiastic giving. The big brother that makes a cup of tea for a younger person battling to start the day, a little sister who helps pack up a mess that she didn’t make at all.
So as so often happens, my reluctant little helper, gave me a chance to pause a little and think about things. What happens if one day we are called to serve our country, to stand in the trenches, what happens if we find ourselves on Flander’s Field. I want my kids to be right up there with me… leaping joyfully at the opportunity to serve, to give with all our hearts, with cheerful hearts, with brave hearts. I would like our “yes’s” to always be a resounding and enthusiastic “yes.” So I made an agreement with this young person, that we wouldn’t do chores together if we just felt that we must… we would take a pause and get our hearts right, before diving in and getting the job done. They were right, that little moment to thankful for the big pile of laundry, thankful for the siblings to serve… we do enjoy helping each other and what a sweet gift to find a neat closet with fresh laundry in it… yes we will still be folding laundry together but we will take a pause to make sure that when we do our chores it is because our yes, really means yes.