I am consumed with schedules, lists, being on time, and ensuring all the little details of our lives are perfectly organized. My husband and kids can tell you all about it – it drives them crazy. Instead of playing outside with my kids on a beautiful day, I’m more often inside cleaning, cooking – frantically checking things off of a never ending to-do list. I want so badly to catch a few relaxing minutes with my family, or catch up with a friend, but then I pass by the living room and a pile of towels taunts me until they are folded and neatly put away.
On more than a few occasions, Dan has casually mentioned that someone is dropping by or he has invited them for dinner. And by the way, they’ll be here in about 10 minutes. Holy crap. A switch goes off and I begin running around the house at warp speed, throwing things into a room that has a lockable door, and barking orders to my kids to change into something that doesn’t make them look homeless and to wipe yesterday’s lunch and God-knows-what-else off of their faces. By the time the doorbell rings, I’m pitting out and my hair has frizzed into the before picture on a Garnier commercial. It shouldn’t be like this.
I am Martha, and God knows it.
Martha welcomed Jesus into her home. Her sister, Mary, went and sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him teach. Meanwhile Martha was anxious about all the hospitality arrangements.
My husband seems to breeze by the mess that has become our house and does so with ease. He uses piles of laundry as hurdles for an obstacle course while one kid rides on his back and another one bounces in his arms. Giggles fill the air when daddy is home. There was a time that this ability of his made me feel jealous, frustrated, and even bitter.
Martha (interrupting Jesus): Lord, why don’t You care that my sister is leaving me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to get over here and help me.
For a long time I wanted to not care the way it appeared Dan didn’t care, but that’s not how I’m wired. After confessing this to Dan one night, I realized it’s not that he doesn’t care about the mess, it’s that he cares more about people. And it’s not that I don’t care about people, it’s just that I lost my priorities somewhere in the mess. I put my to-do list above my kids. I put a tidy house in the way of building relationships. In doing so I put myself in front of my God.
Jesus: Oh Martha, Martha, you are so anxious and concerned about a million details, but really, only one thing matters. Mary has chosen that one thing, and I won’t take it away from her.
For years, I’ve felt God whispering to me, gently inviting me to sit at His feet, set the to-do list down, and enjoy His creation. The call was enticing; it spoke to some of my deepest desires. It has been a process – it still is a process, but I am learning to say “yes” to a request for an extra game of checkers taking the risk that someone might drop by and witness the minefield of toys in our living room or the crumbs under our table, and, *gasp,* judge me for it.
What I realized is the deeper issue lies in just that – being judged…and in perfection…and failure…and living up to a standard that I’m still not quite sure who set or why I agreed to it. At our fingertips are all of the tools needed to be miserable by comparing ourselves to one another. The Joneses are on Facebook and Twitter and have amazing Instagram photos of their family’s latest Pinterest adventure. If I posted what my family looks like on a typical day – the real stuff, where the house is a wreck, my preschooler is having a melt-down because he missed the toilet, and a foodie-pic of our reheated mac and cheese lunch – I’m pretty sure Instagram would ask me to remove my post and discontinue using their App.
I also realized I have a choice in the matter. I can look at the mess in our lives and in our home and anxiously scramble to clean it up or I can look at it and find the humor and lesson in it.
So here it is. The good. The bad. The messy. This is my family. This is me, no holds barred. My kids don’t always get along; sometimes their behavior is downright appalling. Dan and I don’t always see eye to eye, and are, in fact, opposites in almost every way imaginable. I see life a little differently and find humor in places that probably elicit a few looks of disapproval. But, I’m learning to say welcome to our home; welcome into our family. Welcome to The Mess.