Have you ever cooked a meal--whether a multi-course feast or simple P, B & J --with less than joy? Feeling like I'm the only one who appreciates how much work goes into preparing meals three times a day, seven days a week, without end, some days I'm less than glad about the whole business. "Time to make lunch," I'll announce to no one in particular. Much more aware that I have to than that I get to. Is it any wonder our kids, who are observing all that I say, and even more what I do, come with their own version of grumbling and complaining to the meal once made? "I don't like this," they'll announce. "This again?!" They'll ask. All of it conspiring to make the chore even more joyless.
The trouble, I fear, isn't first and foremost their grumbling, but mine. They're responding in kind. I grumble about making it. Then they grumble about eating it. Why am I surprised?
Scripture commands us to do everything without grumbling or complaining (Philippians 2:14). That's a verse I'm trying to teach our kids to obey. But I need to obey it, too! I saw a tweet last week that stopped me cold:
If you can eat 3 meals a day for 3 weeks straight, you are in the top 15% of the richest people in the world.
I didn't fact check it, but it sounds about right. And it's downright convicting. I get to make three meals a day, every day, with no expected breaks in the foreseeable future. What a privilege. It may sound a lot like I'm saying, "when I was a kid, we had to walk barefoot to school, uphill, both ways!" But it's worth considering the hardship of others to gain a little perspective on your own situation.
Our kids really are watching us. When we come willingly, thankfully, to the work of family, of keeping a home clean and livable, of preparing healthful meals and earning a living and sharing what we receive from God with those He puts in our lives, our attitude influences them. Children of joy-filled Moms and Dads are lot more likely to be joy-filled themselves.
Thankfully we're not expected to manufacture joy from nothing. We are not the source of our own joy. Psalm 16:11 says, "[God] You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 92:4 says, "For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy."
Romans 15:13 says God is the source of our joy: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." It is the fruit of the Spirit at work in us: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23).
If you begin your kitchen work with more gratitude than grumbling, by God's grace, you'll be a lot more likely to have grateful mouths to feed when the food is ready.