In my house, the kitchen is the heart of the home. I imagine it’s the same for you. With two little ones, I am constantly in and out of the fridge, fetching milk or cheese sticks, yogurt or applesauce. Little hands find their way into the pantry day in and day out, fishing out gold fish crackers like Jesus told them to cast their nets on the other side. The dishwasher is constantly running, a rotation of dirty to clean, dirty to clean and I am forever tucking something into its cozy cabinet.
When people come over which, in our house, is usually a few times a week, we congregate around our center island or kitchen table, drinks in hand and conversations trailing like run-on sentences. My kitchen is constantly filled with the bubbles of laughter and dish soap and I like it that way. It is where I feed those I love and love those I feed.
It works hard; that kitchen of mine and, by the end of the day, it is usually messy. Actually, by the end of every meal, it is usually messy. I fight a never-ending battle of keeping it tidy and clutter free. I guess that’s to be expected though, when it comes to the heart.
There’s a reason that the kitchen is always referred to as “the heart of the home”. It’s because it is strikingly similar to the heart of a person. From our hearts flow life, nourishment and oxygen and the very cadence of our being, just like our kitchens. Our kitchens, just like our hearts, hold those we love comfortably, catching their words and their needs in the space that its walls provide. It is in both of these places that we tend to the culture of our homes and our lives, where we hold our treasures and where we give and guard the very basic needs of ourselves and others.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.” Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
I spend time each and every day, tending to the cleanliness of my kitchen. I can’t stand the sight of dishes sitting in the sink or dried up macaroni and cheese on my table. I spend time each night getting my kitchen back to rights so that in the morning, my tired self can walk down stairs and round the corner to my kitchen, with morning light streaming in on clean counter tops and find rejuvenation for the day.
That’s what you have to do with the heart; the place that works the hardest and catches the events and words and needs of the day like sticky hands do crumbs.
That’s what you have to do with the heart.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 (NIV)
We have to constantly work on the upkeep of our hearts. We need to take stock of the things that are piling up or the smells that are lingering. Are they good or do we need to run a load in the dishwasher and open a few windows? We need to step back and evaluate the people we are letting in and the words that we are allowing to echo off the walls. Are they giving life or draining it? We need to listen to the sounds, the rhythm, the attitude of our hearts. Is it joy that plays there or is it something a little more grating, like a teakettle that whistles a never-ending scream.
“As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” Proverbs 27:19 (NIV)
It is our kitchens that require the most work but bring the most joy. That’s where relationship and nourishment are found. So it goes with our hearts. After all, the Bible says that Jesus “will come in and eat” with us (Revelation 3:20 NIV). This week, while you wash dishes, prepare meals, and laugh around your kitchen table, remember that your heart is strikingly similar to that room that you are constantly gracing. Be brave enough to look around. Open those messy cupboards and junk drawers, dump out the stale leftovers and brush those crumbs into the trashcan. We all have the challenge of constant up keep with these hearts of ours but if we ask Him for help, the Lord is happy to look around and gently say, “You missed a spot.”
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)