I’m sure you’ve seen all those “don’t mind the mess, my kids are making memories” inspirational sayings on the internet by now. Can I be honest? I loathe them. I’m currently writing this in a room that has been bombed to oblivion with toys, couch pillows, cookie crumbs and a full laundry basket, and my kids are in another room “making more memories” for me to clean up. Unlike those witty, encouragement based sayings, I can’t forget the mess.
I like order. The less clutter around me the more at ease I feel. When my home is clean and my floors are freely walk-able, I am more joyful and relaxed. That’s not to say I don’t allow my children to play and make messes in my home–they do. A lot. And I am *slowly* learning to accept this stage of our life at the moment. (After all, they won’t be this little forever.) I’ve discovered that it’s really my attitude about these things that needs to change.
See, I live with kids. And kids, they make messes. They’re great at dragging every item from their bedroom into the kitchen and leaving it there for you to trip all over. They are experts at trying on every piece of clothing in their closet, then discarding the clean outfits all over the floor. They have undeniably mastered the art of eating food that somehow always ends up all over themselves and the place they’re seated. Dirty hands linger on clean walls and tiny feet smash cereal bits into the carpet.
Actually, when I really think about it, I’m not much different than my children in my relationship to God. Like my kids, I continue to make “messes” in my life. I drag my sinful nature out over and over again, and I’m rarely willing to submissively clean it up. I thoughtlessly allow my own desires to take first precedence and then sheepishly hide when the conviction settles in. But God, well, He doesn’t mind the mess.
God doesn’t sigh and then scold me for continuing to make the same messes in my life. He lovingly pours His grace down on me and then gently redirects my heart. He speaks encouraging words that plant a desire within me to want to do better next time. He sees the human in me–the sinful nature of my soul–and yet still approaches me with a correction that makes me want to learn to reflect Him in all I do. God sees the “memories” in the mess. He doesn’t mind the clean up. In fact, He rejoices in it. His glory is made perfect in my mess. His love and joy are boundless and actually seek me out.
It’s in this realization that I understand my role as a mother in the messiness of living with children. It’s to reflect God’s grace upon them. It’s about coming to them in an attitude of love when I can’t see the floor of their room through the junk. It’s about assisting them in learning the proper way to clean up after themselves and eat over the table. It’s about speaking to them in a gentle, firm tone of correction, instead of shouting at them to pick up. It’s not about growling under my breathe when they have again destroyed my living room with toys, but its about mirroring the love and discipline of God to them when they make a mess.
Because they will continue to make messes. And those messes won’t always be in the floor of my home, but in their own hearts. That’s why I need to make memories out of the messes now. Building the knowledge of the character of God deep inside, so they understand that He is willing and able to forgive any mess we make.
And so is their mother…….most of the time.