I hadn’t been married long. I don’t remember how far into marriage I was, exactly, but I know it was early enough that I still thought marriage was easy.
My habit all those years ago was to casually ask veteran husbands for tips: “What’s your best advice for a successful marriage?”
I got all kinds of good answers, but one stands out. A buddy named Jeremy Courtney responded with three words: “Do the dishes.”
He went on to say being faithful in the small things is one of the most important things about marriage.
Faithful with little, day in and day out. When I get home from a tiring day at the office I choose to engage, keep working, don’t let up. Smile, ask questions, help clean, play with kids, chop onions, serve in those invisible ways that matter most.
It’s easy to wait around for the big anniversary moments to show up for people, and there is surely love in those big days, but there’s a special kind of love found in the tiny, invisible moments throughout the day when we choose to get off our behinds and wash the dishes again and again and again and again.
Tomorrow is the United Nations’ “World Social Justice Day”, and it’s one of those big anniversary moments. Groups of people around the world will go out and serve. They’ll donate a little more money or pay a little more attention to news and statistics about refugees, and that will all be a good thing, but it isn’t doing the dishes.
Think about other “big days”, when the news runs near-constant stories on the battles in Congress or over Brexit—those are big, intense moments when everyone wakes up and pays attention.
Those are important moments when we must respond (as we have again and again, thanks to you), but that’s not doing the dishes.
That’s not the day in, day out kind of love required if we’re going to remake the world.
If we’re going to see places like Iraq and Syria, like North Korea and Venezuela flourish, we have to be about the small moments just as much as the big ones. We have to keep at our work, keep listening and loving local people when the journalists have packed up and the charity budgets have dried up because that’s what it takes for people to live free and stable lives.
If more people had been “doing the dishes” in places like Iraq and Syria, loving in the small ways and showing up when nobody else seemed to care, a group like ISIS wouldn’t have even been possible.When we show up and serve in the quiet moments, we give people options, we listen to their pain, and we offer people hope and stability.
Big days like tomorrow’s “World Social Justice Day” remind us how thankful we are that you are the kind of people who put your heads down and just do the dishes. When the rest of the world forgets Syria, you pay attention.
When others stick to their bubbles of comfort, you move out into your community, toward people unlike you out on the margins. When the money dries up in Iraq because ISIS seems gone and that must mean everything’s ok, you keep giving every month as a part of our Frontline, holding the line and rebuilding lives bit by bit, day by day, because you know that’s what it takes, and we are incredibly grateful for your commitment.
Thank you for loving people for the long haul!