I have been trying to come up with better “systems” for cleaning and maintaining some-what of a semblance of order around here. I am She-man after-all. I need to conquer and subdue my domain…or something like that. While I want to be be all Proverbs 31 about my house, (although that last sentence sounded more like Zena: Warrior Princess) I am finding that as important as that is, there are some things that are just more important than clean floors (which is awesome because if clean floors were the most important thing, we clearly missed the boat around here. We weren’t even at the dock.) I know I need to “fill the earth and subdue it” when it comes to my house. I seem to have the filling it part down. Still working on subduing… And while I want my house to be clean enough not to cause people to call Hoarders for an intervention or the police to put up hazard tape around my bathroom, I want to allow it to be messy enough to show signs of life.
Sometimes though I lose those signs in the clutter. Or rather, all I see is the mess. I don’t see the mess as the sign of life it is. I see piles of laundry that never go away. I see dishes in the sink that have been “soaking” for two days because I haven’t made time to wash them. I could see a Lego battle field full of Barbie shoe land mines covering my living room floor, shoes not on the shoe mat, a shoe mat completely hidden under the Mt. Everest of shoes, construction paper “decorations” covering the walls and floor ( scotch tape doesn’t work well with dirty fingerprints on it), beds with covers falling off the side and dirty foot prints on the bathroom floor and bedroom walls (yes, walls.). Or, or I could see the life these represent. I could see the messes as signs of life.
It is all a matter of perspective. Sometimes I need to pull my “lens” back or I need to take the focus off the mess and see the life behind the mess.
Instead of seeing a giant blur of primary colors, I could see little hands hard at work building masterpieces. Those same pudgy little hands that wrapped their fists around my finger for a sense of security on their first day in this world. I could see minds engaged in deep imagination of other worlds. Those are the minds I have been entrusted with to mold and to guide.
(I love that the block he is playing with says “B”.)
The mess is missing its meaning without those hands and minds in the picture.
Instead of feeling frustrated by the dishes in the sink, I can look at what each one represents. Each bowl, each cup, each spoon represents a breakfast eaten to start another day, a healthy child looking to me to give them nourishment without ever a thought that I wouldn’t provide, and another opportunity to be thankful. Each dish represents God’s faithfulness is giving us a full pantry and full bellies. There were certainly less dishes when it was just the two of us, but less joy too.
I could look at each haphazardly made bed and instead of groaning at a job half done, see God’s grace in accepting my best efforts even when they come up short. I could see little people learning the ways of the world with me, ME as their guide. I could see the sweetness of the pride they take in “merely” spreading a blanket over their bed. Instead of messy covers I could see the full beds and the sweet souls who occupy them each night.
And the footprints everywhere? I could see little feet, dirty from exploring and playing. Those foot prints represent 6 little feet, 30 little toes-all mine to tickle. Little feet that follow my footprints through life. Little feet that I pray tread in the way of the Gospel with confidence.
Those shoes left all over the house would be so annoying if it weren’t for the little feet that went in them.
I could look at the dirt on the rug…
But then I would miss the reason for it. If I shift my focus I don’t see JUST the dirt. I see the dirt is just a sign of life.
When I just look at the baskets and piles of laundry and the bins of diapers I can lose sight of the joy they represent. Each dirty outfit is another day lived with the ones I love, lived well and with purpose. Some day I won’t be changing diapers. I won’t be folding tiny outfits that fit well in my hands. So, for now I will change the diapers and fold the laundry and let it pile up with joy, because it means people are living here. My people.
The clothes that don’t fit in the girls’ closet so they hang on a portable closet in our bedroom- I could look at those, or I could shift my focus to see the big girl resting in our bed, singing songs to her doll. I could thank God for a full house and full hearts, for cups over flowing and a home literally bursting at the seems with life.
And there are so, so many signs of life here. Reminders of people living and thriving and loving, doing life together. Because life is messy.
What about you? I would love to know I am not alone in my craziness! What are some of the things that could drive you to the looney bin but if you shift your focus you see them as signs of life?