noun epiph·a·ny \i-ˈpi-fə-nē\
an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking; an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure; a revealing scene or moment
I recently had an opportunity to go to a Christian women’s retreat, and because I’d be leaving my husband and teenage daughters for the weekend, I got rolling with my compulsive cleaning act. Does anyone else do this? For two days prior to my departure, I vacuumed and steam-cleaned the carpets; I cleaned the bathroom; I did all the laundry. And then, on that last day, I got down on my hands and knees. I knew what I had to do and it would take great strength. I opened the cabinets under my kitchen sink….
To the right was the heaping full trash can. It was white…or, it should have been. I pulled the trash can out and about 20% of the trash toppled to the floor. Lunch meat wrappers, Mamma Chia® Vitality Bar wrappers, dirty napkins, soup cans, and every single questionable thing I’d pulled from my refrigerator during my cleaning spree fell to the floor. It was horrible.
I got out fresh trash can liners and started picking up all the debris that was now on my floor and bagged it up along with what was left in the bag in the can. While the can was empty, why not clean it, I wondered. So I filled it with hot soapy water and let it sit so it could break down the sticky goo at the bottom of the can. Gross!
To the left was a large bin that was supposed to house the dishwasher soap (OK, there were three different pouches of that), trash bags, and other things I absolutely needed in the kitchen. But, because of the close proximity of the trash can, what typically happens is—I’m sure you can guess—the trash overflows the can and falls into this bin. Double gross! Whose job was this, anyway?
Twenty sweaty minutes later, I’d pulled everything out from under the sink, scrubbed the bin, scrubbed the can, scrubbed every inch of the interior and exterior of that formerly disgusting area…and then I had an epiphany! Maybe the job was too overwhelming because it had been left to pile up and overflow and create a bigger mess. Maybe if the trash had been taken out sooner, when it was a smaller, lighter load it would be easy to manage. It wouldn’t grow and fester and ooze and spread into the adjacent bin and the cabinet walls and doors. Maybe my taking initiative by offering a “clean slate” would motivate my family to be more careful, to pay attention, to wipe up spills, and to take! out! the! trash!
Here’s the deal. In my family, we all have set chores. But there are times for whatever reasons those chores get neglected until I notice and then get in there and take action. Sometimes it frustrates me, honestly. But other times, I feel like it really is a gift that I’m giving to my loved ones. We’re a family. We should support one another and not worry about whose job a certain task is. If my loved one is sick, or working long hours, or overwhelmed, why shouldn’t I step up and help out? Teaching my family about responsibility is certainly important, but it’s also my job to teach them to help others in need, to lend a helping hand, and to give what they can.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9 ESV)
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! ” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 ESV)