Have you ever found yourself saying the words “I feel like all I ever do is pick up messes!”? I know I certainly have many times over. With five active, boisterous children, there are bound to be daily messes. Some days, it has felt like a life sentence!
Today was one of those “messy days”…I woke up after a short nights sleep, came downstairs after nursing the baby and saw that the two year old was already awake and roaming around. Oh boy, this could mean trouble, so I quickly circle the downstairs but don’t see anything out of the ordinary. “Wow, not too bad”, I think, “she didn’t really make any messes!” I take her pullup off of her, saying “time to use the big girl potty if you have to go”, as we are in the throes of potty training over here (yay!…said very, very sarcastically). I busily begin making breakfast, slightly stumbling around after that short nights sleep I mentioned, when out of the corner of my eye, I see her walking like a stiff legged mummy toward me. I look at her with one eyebrow raised, “what’s wrong, Love?” “Mommy, I went poopoo in my pants.” Oh boy. What that means is its probably all down her leg and coming out the bottom of her pants because I didn’t run back upstairs to put underware on her yet. Great. Third time this week. “Oh, Love, you have to tell Mommy when you have to go poopoo and we run to the potty….. remember?” I was trying so hard not to get upset because I know that only sets you back with potty training, but on the inside I was sooooo not happy. “Okay, shuffle to the bathroom, let’s get you cleaned off”. Now I’m trying to figure the easiest way to do this. The exact same thing happened a couple mornings ago, but she was wearing old pj’s that I didn’t care about, so truth be told, I just cut them off of her so I didn’t have to slide the pants down and spread “it” everywhere. This morning, I loved the pj’s she was wearing. So, I got her cleaned up as best I could, all the while balancing on one leg while the other leg is holding the baby back. He crawled in the bathroom too and was wanting to be right up in all the action. This was when I wished my older two were home so I could ask them to help hold him, but they spent the night at a friends house, and my seven year old had a friend over and they were sleeping in. But, I did it, one legged and all, and I kept the baby out of the mess. Phew! I took the dirty pants into the laundry room, rinsed them off in the sink, and threw them in the wash. As I close the door to the washer, I glance at the top of the washer and dryer and notice that my laundry baskets are overflowing, so much so that one of the baskets has busted. What a mess! I take a deep breath, pray the pants get clean, and head back to the kitchen to start breakfast. As I wash my hands off at the kitchen sink, I look at a picture frame that sits on my window ledge with a quote that I placed in it the other day. It says “Living in the mess. Life doesn’t come in neat little packages. But that’s okay-God works in and through the mess to make something beautiful”. I smile, remembering why I put that quote there. I found it last week in a homeschooling magazine I was reading. It was one of those quotes that just jumped off the page at me because it spoke to me. This morning, it was shouting to me. And little did I know, two hours later it would minister to me once more when she would poop her pants AGAIN.
Friends, life is full of messes. In all honesty, at my house I feel like I am constantly walking into or over a mess all day long. I can’t get away from it. God has shown me though, that the only way to get away from all messes is to get away from people. (and yes, you make your own messes too, but I know, I know, yours pail in comparison to others-wink!)
Our life goal should certainly not be to steer clear of all messes. Remember, what was one of the first words out of God’s mouth after He created Adam? “It is not good for man to be alone.” So He made Eve. Then He told them to multiply and fill the earth. People, people, and more people. Which really means messes, messes, and more messes. People=messes. But you see, it’s not good for us to be alone. We were designed to be living life with people. It’s woven throughout our DNA because your Creator put it there. I know it can be so tiring and frustrating to be cleaning up messes all day long. Believe me-I know. The food the toddler spills on their shirt, the messy hands after meals, the toys scattered all over the house, the crafts that get accidentally glued to the kitchen table, the silly putty that gets stretched out and strung across the carpet, the sharpy that was scribbled across the white chair(thank you Magic Eraser!), the socks that get taken off feet and found all over the house, homework papers everywhere, markers with no marker caps, toothpaste smeared on the counter…I could go on and on and on. And this is just before 10AM! But friends, who is making all these messes? I’ll tell you who. Future Kings and Queens of Heaven. God’s children. Beautiful, tiny little hands and feet that walk this earth looking to you to help them. And they will only be with you a short time. There is an expiration date to raising your children, and I can guarantee you when that expiration date hits, there will be lots of tears. So, choose to enjoy living in the mess while there are people in your home to be making the mess. Heck-embrace it. Why not, right? I’m not saying let your house be a garbage dump. No one can live in that. What I am saying is, let them be kids. And allow yourself to be their Mommy. Join them in their mess. Play with them while they still want to play with you, instead of following them around cleaning up after them all day and barking orders at them. And when the play is over, teach them to help you clean it all up (and teach those olders to pick up their own socks and homework!). If you have children that are older, go sit on their bedroom floor while you have them clean up their room and talk with them. Kids will open up better when they have something they are doing, opposed to you sitting staring at them. Have them help you do the dishes and clean the floor, and talk together. Embrace the mess, and embrace the clean-up. These are opportunities to bond with your children.
So, what if the messes you face this Christmas season aren’t physical messes? Maybe you feel like your life is just a mess. You feel you’ve made a mess of your marriage, your finances, job, or friendships. God can fix that too. If you let Him. He’s really, really good at cleaning up our messes…He’s your Heavenly Father, so He does a way better job at taking care of us than we do of our children. Humble yourself before Him, talk to Him about the mess you’ve made, and ask Him to help you clean it up. It may take time, and everyone’s road to recovery looks different. Do you know that the Bible is full of people who made messes of their lives? And God made it that way so that we can learn from them. That way we can read their stories and go, “I don’t want to make that mistake”. Also, so we can read their stories and go “look at how God turned their life around after they brought their mess to Him and asked for His help”. The Bible is a teaching manual. Pick it up and read it. It’s the only book in the world that is actually alive because God Himself speaks through it to us.
If you feel as if someone else has made the mess you are in, lock arms with God and pray. Reach out to others who can carry you through this time. But most importantly, stay close to God because only He can make your life beautiful again. Psalm 103 verse 4 says that He is the one “who redeems your life from destruction”. That word redeem in the original Hebrew means “to buy back”. It is used 104 times in the Bible and frequently used of God when He is redeeming men out of slavery or bondage. He is GOOD at redeeming our lives from destruction (a.k.a. messes) – if we ask Him to.
So fast forward the clock to 4PM, and I’m in the kitchen making dinner stepping over all the pots and pans that Jude has pulled out of the cupboards. I cut open a squash to cook, and Janelle says “Mom, can I play with the seeds?” I always roast the seeds for us to eat, so I usually let her play with them and wash them off. My brain was formulating the words, “just please don’t make a mess”, when I stopped myself… “Sure, Love, here you go”, and I slid the bowl of slimy squash seeds over to her. I watched her tiny hands play with those seeds for a half hour, and I must have smiled a dozen times. Watching her play brought me happiness, and God did something in my heart. He made something beautiful through the messes of my day. An appreciation for my family and the tiny hands before me. Did the seeds end up all over the counter, chair, and floor? Yes they did. Did she enjoy herself? Every moment of it. Did I feel it was worth letting her make the mess? Yes…every minute of it.
Friends, ask God to help you change your perspective on the messes you clean up in your home. Those little (and big) bodies won’t be there forever. And for those of you with your hands in the mess, take those hands and lift them up to Heaven and ask Him to make something beautiful out of it. Trust me when I say that your life is worth being beautiful.
Hugs from my house to yours…