As I drove home from the grocery at noon, I realized that I had pretty much done everything that day by myself. I woke up that morning, ran 3 miles, mowed the lawn, threw in some laundry, grocery shopped and still had my Adoration hour at church with Christ and a few hours in the office ahead of me. Entering my house, I saw my three kids hanging on the couch, a filthy kitchen, a hungry dog, and a few neighbors running about. I scanned the house and visually pinpointed my husband in our den working diligently on the computer. The mess and noise didn’t seem to bother him, but it pushed my buttons into overload. If I was a cartoon, steam would have been coming out of my head. I had worked hard all day, so that they could play. No rest or relaxation had graciously appeared on my agenda. Why are they having all the fun, while I work hard to provide them with clean clothes and food to eat?
This takes me to the story of the Little Red Hen. You know the one where she harvests the wheat, goes to the mill to turn it into flour, and bakes the bread all by herself. No one will help her. They are busy relaxing or doing things that just seem frivolous to the Little Red Hen. When she finishes her bread, the smell permeates the farm. All those who denied her help, appear at the door ready to eat the bread. She proceeds to tell them that they are not invited because she did it all herself! Hmmm. That might lead to a lonely life for the Little Red Hen. Yes, it taught the farm animals a lesson, but what lesson did she learn?
I decided to hold my tongue. I wanted to scream out, “Get off the couch and help me in the kitchen, clean your rooms, help mow the lawn, and maybe just offer a hand to your tired mother every once in a while.” I definitely tried to steer clear of the Little Red Hen Syndrome. And in the chaos of it all, I might have said something to that effect, but I definitely toned it down a little. What I did different that day was ask God for strength: strength to not yell and behave like the Little Red Hen, strength to fight off the feeling that no one was helping me, strength to find humility. You know what I felt? Peace. I realized that I needed to be grateful for my duties as a mom. After all, I am a servant to Christ. Motherhood reminds me of that servant hood and at the same time gives me the humility that Christ wants me to learn. Where else do I care for people so diligently? Where else do I work so hard and receive so little praise? My work is unending as a mother. Exhaustion can conquer joy if I allow it. During my prayer hour later that day, I found a scripture that pinpointed my feelings.
Philipians 2:3-5 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.
What would Jesus do? Christ was a slave for God who emptied himself for others. He was obedient to death on a lowly cross with criminals surrounding Him. Those who had not encountered Christ’s love must have seen him as another criminal, certainly not a King. Humility was Jesus’ strength. If He would have chosen power, He would have just made himself like the Pharisees. Power would have destroyed His message. Humility won Him many followers. As Philippians tells us later in verse 14, “do everything without grumbling or questioning.”
This is what I needed to hear. My work was difficult and seemingly endless, but it was work that God needed me to do. He needed me to care for my family, serve the church, and feed my flock (not only with groceries, but through my actions). No one needed me to yell at them to do chores. A gentle nudge would be acceptable, but first I needed to remember why I was doing it all. It was for God, not for praise or self-righteousness. My light of Christ would shine so much brighter if I found the joy in servanthood rather than complain about my work. Complaining would get me nothing. Loving and enjoying my work would give me hope. It would be enough just to know that my work was not done in vain, but done for the glory and light of God to shine through me.
Once I let go of the bitterness that no one was helping me; I found peace. Peace that was from the wisdom that God revealed to me that day. The Little Red Hen deprived herself of that gift of wisdom and peace. She let bitterness and complaining win over her soul. There is no peace in that choice. Unlike the Little Red Hen, I asked for God’s help, and my complaints that day were washed away, as the waters of peace flooded my soul.