As we approach Christmas 2022, there are countless things that need to be done. The house needs to be cleaned and decorated, the meals need to be prepped and cooked, and gifts need to be purchased and wrapped. We spend a lot of time picking out those gifts, special for that person in mind. We spend our hard-earned money on it, we keep it a secret, and we carefully package it up in decorative paper and bows. Then we sign it and await the look of surprise and joy on their face when they open it on Christmas Day. But that look doesn’t always come. Sometimes, people don’t appreciate the thought, time, and effort that went into a gift.
On an episode of The Cale Clarke Show, Cale told the story of a mother who transformed a situation of ingratitude into an opportunity for personal sanctification.
Cale recounted the story of one mother who had people over for Christmas. Being part of a large family, it was only natural that there was a lot of food, a lot of dishes, a lot of friends, and at the end of the night, one big mess. That’s not out of the ordinary. The mother, seeing a need, took it upon herself to clean everything in sight. She put away the leftovers, washed the dishes, wiped down every surface, and put away anything that was out of place. The kitchen was spotless. One might have wondered if there was ever a party there at all. And so, after a good night’s work, the mother went upstairs for a well-earned rest. Her children and their friends celebrated long into the night.
Then the next morning, the mother woke up and walked downstairs to fetch herself a cup of coffee. After a tiresome night of preparation, celebration, and scrubbing, you can imagine the look of horror and dismay on her face when she saw the enormous mess in the kitchen that morning. Her children and their friends hadn’t even noticed how she had cleaned, mopped, wiped, and disinfected. They had merely seen another stomping ground for their holiday shenanigans. There were dirty cups and dishes strewn about the counters. There were crumbs and spilled beverages on the floor.
This, naturally, made her very upset. Why didn’t anybody notice how hard she worked on the family’s behalf? Why had they undone all of her work? Why hadn’t they cleaned up after themselves? She came to a metaphorical fork in the road. Her first option was the more understandable of the two. She could confront her ungrateful children, express her disappointment and anger, and make them clean it up. Or, as her second option, she could swallow her anger and look at this situation as an opportunity to express her own gratitude. Difficult, baffling, illogical, but virtuous.
She chose the second option. As she walked about the kitchen from mess to mess and began to deep clean it yet again, she thanked God. She picked up a dirty cup. “Thank you, God, that I have clean water to drink.” That cup served as a reminder that so many people throughout the world do not have easy access to clean water. She swept up the crumbs left from the previous night. “Thank you, Lord, for the food that we had last night, and we enjoyed together.” So many people throughout the world and even in our country are without food or company during the holidays.
Soon, the kitchen was as spotless as it had been last night right before she went to bed. Of course, her children and her friends should never have left another mess in the first place. And most likely, she still had a conversation with them about taking care of themselves. But beyond that, she found herself in a situation where she felt unappreciated. Instead of letting the cycle end with ingratitude, she chose to sanctify this opportunity for further work and sacrifice so that she could turn that ingratitude into gratitude.
This Christmas, as you try to live sacrifice and service, don’t put a limit on your charity. Take every opportunity to give of yourself because you have been given much. Turn every expression of ingratitude and inconvenience into an expression of love so that you too can grow in personal holiness.
Tune in to The Cale Clarke Show weekdays at 5pm CT