A few months ago I was doing a house project, and Carrie pointed something out that needed fixed. Needless to say, that didn’t set well with me. I went on a rant to myself; I work to provide for our family then I come home and have to work on this stupid project. No one appreciates what I do!!! I’ve been working on this project for hours, and does she say, “Wow, that looks great, Bryan,”? No, she says, “Are you going to fix that?” Of course I’m going to fix it!!! Here I am working hard all day, and I don’t even get a simple “Thank you”, just nitpicking.
I continued on my silent rant for the remainder of the evening, wallowing in my self-pity. I was so irritated and feeling so unappreciated, I had no desire to finish the project. Why would I do this for someone who is so unappreciative? I’ve done all this work today, and she didn’t even acknowledge it (Have you ever been there?).
My perspective took a 180 degree turn when I opened my drawer. My irritation immediately transformed to sadness and appreciation. I didn’t find a love note or a thank you card, but I found something that spoke volumes to me -folded laundry. I know you’re asking, “How in the world did folded laundry speak to you?” That is an excellent question; so, I’ll answer it.
It reminded me how unappreciated my wife is
In our ten years of marriage, I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve opened my drawers and not found clean clothes to wear. Carrie has always been a stickler for keeping a neat house (as neat as it can be with 3 children) and keeping up on the laundry (along with a host of other things). Carrie doesn’t just wash and dry the laundry; she folds every piece, and she doesn’t just fold every piece; she neatly folds every piece. If you ever walked into our house and found a pile of laundry, it would be a pile of neatly folded laundry.
At that moment I realized that in all the years that we had been married I had never let her know how much I appreciated her keeping up on the laundry. I had always taken it for granted. When I took a shower in the morning, I just expected to find clean clothes and a clean towel and washcloth. Obviously, they didn’t get there by themselves, but I never thought to say “thank you” to my wife for consistently keeping up on the laundry.
Here I was so irritated and ready to quit because I worked for a couple of hours on a project and didn’t get a “thank you,” while my wife has been folding my laundry for years without a thank you. And the laundry wasn’t the only thing; I began to think of other things I had taken for granted too:
- The clean house
- The vacuumed and swept floors
- The clean dishes
- The cooked meals
- The children’s baths
- The nicely decorated house
- The neatly organized shelves in the kitchen
I knew there were times she didn’t feel like doing these things. I knew there were times that she felt very unappreciated and wanted to give up, but all these years she kept doing the same things over and over without the least bit of acknowledgement. Why?
It reminded me of my wife’s unconditional love
We often think of love as an overwhelming feeling of passion for someone. While this is nice, it isn’t the full picture of love. The evidence of love is not in empty words or feelings but in actions. The Apostle John said, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth,” (1 John 3:17-18 ESV). Love says, “I’ll do this even though I don’t feel like it.”
Every day for all those years, my wife said, “I love you.” I felt (and still do feel) ashamed that I let her go all those years, consistently serving me, without so much as a “thank you.” Very few things feel worse than a lack of appreciation. Everyone wants to know that someone notices their contribution. I realized at that moment that she didn’t do it to get a pat on the back or a word of thanks (though I should have been giving her those things and more); she did it because she loved me unconditionally and a lack of appreciation was not going to keep her from demonstrating this love.
So, what now?
I want to give you some practical pointers to walk away with:
- Think about someone in your life that you appreciate, but you have never told him/ her. It might be your spouse, a relative, your children, your pastor etc. Who has been consistently good to you but never heard your word of thanks? (The laundry in the drawer didn’t get there by itself, and the paper towels in the church bathroom didn’t get there by themselves either).
- Tell those people how much you appreciate all they do. Tell them why you appreciate it and that you’re sorry for not acknowledging it sooner. Even better than saying it is showing it. Write a note, help with some of the chores, buy him/ her a gift card, a small gift, or flowers etc.
- Remember how unappreciated people in your life are next time you want to wallow in your self-pity.
- Considering making this a New Year’s Resolution for 2018.
One of the things I love about the Apostle Paul is that he closes his letters with words of appreciation. I think we believe that bragging on people is feeding their pride and ego but in reality, it just gives them the boost they need to keep going. Paul knew that and had no problem letting others know how much he appreciated them. Don’t wait; tell someone you love how much you appreciate them today.