Clean Kitchen = Death to Self

person using mop on floor
Photo by on

I don’t have much energy to write tonight. It was a day full of errands: dropping the girls at homeschool co-op, washing the car, making a meal plan and grocery list, taking the little one to the park, two grocery stores, back to homeschool co-op…and somewhere in there, I did three loads of laundry and put a roast in the crockpot.

We tidied house both Saturday and Sunday–because, somehow, within the space of 24 hours, it got trashed again. And between all that tidying and weekend fun and Monday errand running…the kitchen was a disaster.

Peanut oil all over one counter where I splooshed it trying to clean up the deep fryer. A mountain of dishes because the second newly installed dishwasher died–after three loads. A popcorn maker, enough dirty cups to keep an entire choir hydrated (if they didn’t mind dirty cups). Random toys, receipts, detritus of all kinds.

Admittedly, there was some barking in our house. It felt like everybody was in the way and doing it on purpose. Matt and I were short on empathy for the kids and one another.

We tried to have the kids help with the kitchen, but it’s really too small for five people to work in without a murder taking place. They went off to clean their room (which was, mercifully, not too bad) and we dug in–and had to turn on a podcast to drown out our own foul moods.

Matt stationed himself at the sink while I whipped around, attending to the ever-breeding cups and wiping up counters. I even got out the Swiffer WetJet thingy. It was probably only half an hour before the mess was vanquished and we could see our kitchen–and each other–again.

rectangular brown wooden table
Photo by Sarah Jane on

Our feelings were not instantly bright and cheery like our cooking space. Hurt feelings lingered and words needed to be exchanged, but removing the clutter made room for them.

And I was reminded: this is what love looks like. Anyone can put on fancy clothes and go out to dinner or even stroll up the aisle and say “I do.” That can be love, but it might also be fulfilling a fantasy or playing a part.

But love in action is often far from fancy. It rolls up its sleeves and does dishes even though dishes are the worst thing ever invented (okay, not worst, but probably top 10). It refrains from pointing out someone’s faults. It says the hardest words: “I was wrong” and “I’m sorry” when they are bitter to the taste.

Love in action is death to self. In Christ, we see the pinnacle of love in action:

And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:27-28)

Before going willingly to his death, Christ gave a picture of his death to his disciples. He told them that he would die for their sake (and ours). After pouring into them with truth and the world with displays of his power, he willingly went to be poured out.

Such a sacrifice makes cleaning a kitchen and holding back harsh words seem infinitesimally small. And they are. BUT:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)

The kitchen will be messy again. We will be angry and frustrated again. But when that time comes, we will have the Spirit’s help to die to our selfishness–just as we did tonight.

And that is worth so much more than a clean kitchen.

Published by MK Jorgenson

Thinking, writing, and talking about Christian stewardship in all of its facets.

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