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Holiness (Sometimes) Begins in the Bathroom

The holidays have ended for most of us. Garlands bundled into boxes, red lids snapped down tight and relegated back to their usual spots in the garage. Children have returned to their schoolwork, the last of the sugar cookies sent to the circular file, and many of us mamas are staring down our usual to-do lists, full of instructions to declutter and vacuum, wash and fold.

And I’m left wondering … Could these normal days be holy-days, too?

Many years ago as I knelt by a bathtub, sponge in one hand and spray bottle in the other, a little pity party was brewing. Sigh. “Ugh … Little boys’ bathrooms! I’m washing this floor for the third time this week. Is this really what my life is about—cleaning up after little people? This wasn’t what I had in mind when I said I wanted to serve you, Lord.”

It was then I heard Him whisper, “Who else would do this for them?”

I pictured four little faces, sometimes shiny and smiling, sometimes grubby and grouchy. “Well, I suppose that’s true. There’s sure no one else lining up for this job.”

“When you’ve done it for the least of these, you’ve done it for Me.”

Really? Could I really be serving Jesus in the most mundane activities of my day? Scrubbing that bathroom floor for Him? Would I be complaining, if I could see Him standing there?

Drawing them onto my lap later that night, I snuggled freshly washed heads close as we bent our heads and prayed together, entrusting our night to the Lord. I prayed for them, that God would draw them close and they would know His love for them.

Those moments? So much easier to see as “holy.”

Most of us know in our heads that God is in every moment of our days, yet we have a hard time believing it in our hearts—feeling the truth of His omnipresence.

So, how does holiness start in the bathroom? Well, let’s look at that word: holiness. It’s a big word, isn’t it? Kind of intimidating, if you ask me. We’ve read it, maybe sung it; God is holy, holy, holy. Me? Not so much. But this passage in 1 Peter urges me to take notice:

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

1 Peter 1:13-16

Did you catch that? “Be holy yourselves also, in all your behavior” (emphasis mine).

Behavior here means the way we live; our walk, our attitudes, our conduct …basically everything we do, 24/7, 365 days a year.

So here’s my guess: If it’s true that I’m cleaning bathrooms for Jesus, I’m also making Him dinner, washing His laundry, making His bed and reading Him stories.

Maybe you’re pouring Him coffee, filing His papers, or making His phone calls. As I serve the precious children, husband, friends and neighbors He has placed in my life, I’m serving Him. He asks me to do this job for Him.

Knowing that makes all the difference in the world as I face each morning. Even as I do common work, I myself have been set apart to serve Jesus, Himself. Am I preparing my mind for action? Keeping sober in spirit? Fixing my eyes on His grace? I can be holy in all my behavior. Even bathroom floor scrubbing. Maybe especially bathroom floor scrubbing!

Brother Lawrence, a monk who found himself spending most of his time at service to others in the kitchen, wrote, “We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.” (Practicing the Presence of God)

May you be blessed, sweet mom, as you go through your own holy days!

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