3 Vital Life Lessons From a Cleaning Dispute

Christy marched down the hall wearing anger on her face. Isabelle truly deserved it. In 30 minutes Christy had worked her tail off cleaning while Isabelle worked equally hard not to.

“I’m mad at her. I’ve done everything!….She says she’s done more work than me!”

Spotting a parenting moment, I knelt to have a heart to heart with her.

First, I wanted her to know truth about herself.

“Christy, you know how hard you’ve worked. I know, and, mommy knows who cleaned up the room. Don’t listen to your sister when you know the truth.”

I heard this term once “Self Differentiation.” This basically means you have the capacity to separate what people say about you from the truth you know. I want Christy to confidently know herself and spot when someone tells her something not true.

Kids who don’t have truth about themselves affirmed at home seek it out.

I remember leading a kids ministry years back. The kids with great parents ran in practically ignoring me as the leader. They wanted to have fun with other kids. The kids with terrible (or disconnected) parents needed to tell me about their day. They needed my love and attention. They lacked confidence from their parents and sought it from me.

Second, I wanted her to understand how to grapple with unfairness.

“Christy you will always have times in life when you work harder than others. You need to focus more on what you have done then on your sister.”

I hate how much time I waste thinking about others. Not thinking how to serve others. Envying, resenting or feeling irritation towards others wastes my time and energy.

I have 27 years experience on Christy but I still struggle with focusing on what others do over my responsibility.

I really didn’t sell Christy on accepting an unfair division of room-cleaning labor. Yet she accepted a hi-five for her efforts.

Third, I realized how love looks different between kids.

An eye-to-eye conversation finished with a hug and a smile assured Christy of my love. She knew I got her and recognized her effort (this time).

Minutes later I found an oblivious Isabelle smiling in the bathroom. With a hug and a smile I loaded her tooth brush and sent her to bed. I knew she had much to learn but gosh I loved that little slacker this evening.

I work hard to intentionally love my girls in a way that moves them forward. Doing this God reminds me all the time of his love for me.

God loves me and wants me to get just what I tried to teach Christy

First, God wants me to live out of His opinion of me rather than others.

Second, I don’t think God wants me to waste time worrying about what others get/don’t get or do/don’t do.

Third, God loves me and loves me differently whether I live as a slacker adult or totally hard working adult.

Remember that story of Jesus, Mary and Martha.

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:38-42‬ ‭ESV‬‬


Jesus at other places challenges people to pick up their crosses and follow Him. Jesus lays down serious challenges. Yet here He loves each sister differently. He helps each sister differently.


Can you resonate with any of the three points God showed me today? Which one and what might God want you to do about it?

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