Dusty Ceiling Fans + The Unseen Work of Motherhood

My husband and I are ceiling fan people. We never turn it off; let alone try and sleep without it. In fact, there is only one light switch panel on the wall in our bedroom, and it doesn’t even have two switches – which is fine… because it’s not like we’d use it and give the poor thing a break. The only time we turn it off is once in a blue moon when I decide it’s time to clean the blades – something I, admittedly, don’t do nearly often enough.

I am here to tell you, that if you leave a ceiling fan on 24/7/365 and then turn it off, it’s going to resemble a wild animal. Dust somehow clings to the blades that are spinning around at a thousand million turns a minute and it grows and leaves you with quite an ugly mess that, if you’re like me, kind of makes you wish you’d never turned it off to begin with.

So, a few days ago, I climbed up on our queen sized bed, pulled the string, and watched the blades as they slowed to a stop. Sure enough, the blades were covered in sticky, fluffy, grey stuff that was enough to embarrass me even though I was alone. We have the kind of fan that has removable blades (praise Jesus), so I took them down, one by one, let them soak in our bathtub filled with cleaner, gave them a little scrub and rinse, and laid them out to dry. As I was putting them back up, it dawned on me that this little task sure was a lot of work for something no one would even notice. I mean, if I hadn’t turned the fan off, no one would have been able to see the dust and it would have just kept spinning and everything would have been just fine, right?

I also hate getting the oil changed in my car. It takes time, sometimes you have to make an appointment, it’s expensive, and you can’t even tell you’ve done it. It’s not like a car wash with color changing lights and pretty soap where after $6 you come out in a sparkly silver Honda Oddessy ready to hit the Chick-fil-a drive thru in style. If you know, you know.

But, you know what? If you don’t clean your ceiling fan, you’ll be breathing air that’s less than fresh and eventually it will probably burn out the motor. If you don’t get an oil change… something bad will happen… I’ll ask Grayson and get back to ya on that one (haha). But, my point is that sometimes, I would even argue that most of the time, the unseen things matter far more than we can see in the moment.

Because I’m a visual person in an age of instant gratification, it’s hard for me to grasp the concept of doing things that don’t seem to make a difference. I couldn’t be more different than my sweet Mama in that way – because my idea of a “clean house” is everything looking spotless, and not giving a second thought to closets that erupt like volcanoes if you open them too swiftly. My Mama, who is full of wisdom and quite the perfectionist, has a much different idea of “cleaning.” For her, it starts in the silverware drawer, takes her to a perfectly organized linen closet, and so on and so forth. She does things from the inside out, and my tendency to do the opposite is something I have a feeling I’ll spend the rest of my adult life trying to overcome.

But like many wives and mothers who have gone before us, wisdom is earned and comes with years of experience. The unseen work of motherhood has paid off for those who have gone before us, and it will for us one day, too. Because although right now it may not seem to matter how many times a day we correct our children by saying, “yes mam” every time they reply with, “yeah” or how many times we practice the ABC’s in the car with our four year olds when we’d rather be getting lost in our favorite songs or how often we wipe little hineys and clean soiled sheets… it does matter. Motherhood is holy work and the unseen parts of it are meant to sanctify us and reveal to us even greater depths of our dependence on our Heavenly Father and how much He loves us, His children.

So, here’s to clean ceiling fans and holding tight to our Savior’s promise that He began a great work in us and will see it to completion. If He has called you to be a Mama, He will equip you and use you and the small seeds you’re planting right now will make a difference in the years to come.

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