What do the Israelites in the desert have to do with homemaking? It’s a valid question, but surprisingly, their wanderings in the wilderness have more to do with my struggles with home management than you might think.
Will has been complaining a LOT lately. Last Thursday was a particularly bad day.
He started first thing in the morning, and it lasted well into the afternoon. Every single thing we did, he shared the sentiment that he either didn’t like that activity or didn’t feel like doing it. He tried to get around my “no complaining” rule by not actually saying the exact words, “I don’t like that” or “I want to do something else.” I have to admit, he got pretty creative, but it was complaining all the same. “I’m not too keen on that, mom.” = my personal favorite
I ended up assigning him sentences to copy. I’m a legit mom now, you guys.
My kid is writing “I will not complain” 10 times. Assigning forms of punishment from my childhood got me all:
Bring it, kid. I got more discipline strategies where that came from. *mic drop*
THE ISRAELITES (AKA THE BEST COMPLAINERS IN HISTORY)
All this complaining reminded me of the Israelites in the desert. They were delivered from slavery. Complained. Given water from a rock. Complained. Manna from heaven. Complained. Accompanied through the desert by a great cloud and a pillar of fire. Complained. Wandered for 40 years without their clothes or shoes ever wearing out. Complained. HOLY COW, ISRAELITES!!! Imma bout to assign you some sentences!
“I will not complain about God’s plan.” One billion times. Go.
Just like my son, the words were a little bit different each time the Jews grumbled, but the sentiment was the same. “We don’t like this.” “We would rather do something else.”
I have to say, I felt pretty convicted at this point.
How often am I complaining without realizing it? Maybe the words I say or think aren’t exactly “I don’t like this,” but is that the sentiment? Am I mincing words with God, believing I’m obedient when I’m actually grumbling?
You should have seen my son’s face when he got in trouble. Each time I pointed out his grouchy words, he was genuinely shocked. Like I was somehow changing the rules, suddenly saying perfectly acceptable phrases, expressions of opinion, were actually complaints. How often do I do this with God? Honestly, I don’t know.
HOMEMAKING & DESERT WANDERING
Lately, my biggest complaint-generator has been managing my home.
It’s not my jam. It doesn’t come naturally. But I fear I’ve fallen into the trap of the Israelites in the desert. I complain about my circumstances rather than remembering God’s faithfulness. I grumble about my tasks rather than praising God for His provision. But what should I do instead? Take a page from the Snow White Handbook of Homemaking? Sing a sweet soprano tune while I sweep and scour, constantly picking up after messy, ungrateful dwarves?
There must be room for voicing our feelings of frustration without falling into disobedience.
I don’t think God expected His people to ENJOY the desert. I think he just wanted them to find JOY in Him. For sure, the desert was terrible, but He did make it miraculously inhabitable. He provided for them, lighting their way, protecting them from the sun, giving them food and water and clothing. The desert was still the DESERT, but it could have been a lot worse.
I also don’t think God has a problem with people acknowledging hardship.
We see it in the Psalms over and over. David describing His trials and heartbreak. The difference is, the Israelites suggested their own solutions, “better” ideas than God’s “horrible” plan. Take us back to Egypt. Make us a golden calf. Find us a leader. But the Psalms provide a different model. Crying out in our frustration, sadness, overwhelm, but ending in praise. Resting in the knowledge of God’s character. Trusting Him with the outcome. Continuing in obedience.
Maybe that’s where I should start. Repenting of my grumbling heart and recognizing how, though this season of life is hard, it would be a lot worse without God. Sharing my struggles, frustration, exhaustion, and overwhelm with God, but wrapping it all up in praise.
No matter how whiny my kids, God is good. No matter how messy my house, He is faithful. No matter how long my to-do list, He is sufficient.
After chewing on this for a while and having some real conversations with God about my “Israelites in the desert” attitude toward homemaking, I’ve come away with 5 solid lessons:
WHAT THE ISRAELITES IN THE DESERT TAUGHT ME ABOUT HOMEMAKING:
1.Remember the hardships in my life before
The Israelites had major memory issues. They were rewriting their memories of life in Egypt, painting a rosier picture than the truth of what happened. I can do this with homemaking and motherhood. “Before kids, life was so much easier. I could do whatever I wanted.” True, it was easier in some ways, but there was still laundry! In fact, there was probably just as much laundry because I had all kinds of work clothes to wash. Things are never as easy or as perfect in reality as they look in the rearview mirror. I need to remember my life before still included crappy stuff I didn’t like.
2.Remember God’s faithful provision
Every time they got overwhelmed with life in the desert, the Israelites would complain. They constantly forgot God’s constant provision. This is SO me. Every time a kid throws up on the couch, I’m like, “I can’t do this!” Every time I’m faced with a pile of laundry or overflowing sink of dishes while my kids are shouting at me from all corners of the house, I think, “This is just SO HARD.” How quickly I forget God’s sustaining power! How short my memory is for His support in times of depression or His faithfulness during our first 3 months with a toddler and twins. He has always been faithful, always supported and strengthened and sustained me. I need to remember than in the midst of my overwhelm.
3.Don’t listen to the crowd
The other problem the Israelites faced was the mob mentality. There was often a few loud grumblers that swept everyone else up in their grouchfest. I need to be wary of this if I’m going to successfully navigate this difficult season of mothering littles and managing our home. I need to distance myself from women who complain constantly about life as a homemaker, who grumble about their husbands and their lack of assistance in the home. The Israelites in the desert fell for this trap over and over, complaining about Moses and Aaron and blaming them for life’s difficulties. It’s just too easy to start believing the grumpy propaganda of the crowd, so I need to be on guard.
4.See the overwhelming task through God-colored glasses
You guys, I just LOVE Joshua and Caleb. They left the Israelites in the desert to check out the promised land with 10 other spies. Their 10 companions saw the enormity of the task at hand, giant men, impenetrable walls, but Joshua and Caleb only saw what God could do. They weren’t blind to the difficulties at hand, but they knew they power of God. They trusted in HIS abilities, not their own. When I get overwhelmed by laundry and dishes and toys and tasks, may I trust in GOD, not my own strength.
5.God is with me every step of the way
God stayed with the Israelites in the desert every single day of those 40 years. He miraculously sustained them when they didn’t even notice. I may feel overwhelmed and lonely and ill-equipped. This season of homemaking and child-rearing may seem never ending, but God is with me. He is sustaining me daily in ways I may not even be aware of. I pray that I notice Him and His hand in my life. I pray that my own desert journey is an opportunity to witness Him perform miracle after miracle, taking a woman with absolutely NO IDEA how to manage a home or raise children by the hand through this uncharted territory to the final destination He has prepared for me.
Maybe writing some sentences might help me remember. What do you think?