Messy, Messy

As I write, I'm listening to the song Chris and I are a little obsessed with right now.

I'm telling you, there's no greater medicine for the soul than worship. Something to look forward eternity of it at the throne of God.

Speaking of needing medicine for your soul (or just to keep you sane), are there any greater teachers than toddlers? Why do we send kids to school? We should just let them be the teachers. I mean, the life lessons they can teach us are more valuable, in the end, than multiplication anyway, right?

Sam is about to be two (please allow me a moment to dry my eyes). I think he's at the only age that can make you want to resign from parenting the moment the kid gets out of bed and makes you want to have him around forever all at the same time. I'm telling you, the way he says garbage truck is unbelievably cute. I can't get enough of it. And tonight I just couldn't quit tickling his feet, because everytime I stopped for a moment, he'd shake his finger at me and say, "No, no, Mommy," in the cutest voice ever. If only he wouldn't become obsessed with getting behind the video camera everytime I get it out, I could preserve this cuteness for years to come.

All that cuteness fades very quickly when it's time to feed the kid, though. Honestly, I dread it. Why? Because two things are guaranteed when Sam sits down to eat a meal: a fit will be pitched at some point and a mess will be made. Look, all my kids make a mess when they eat, but Sam creates a situation that could be declared a disaster area by the governor if he came to assess it. (Okay, I might be exaggerating just a bit, but I'm the one who usually has to clean it up.)

Most of the issues regarding fits and messes occur because Sam wants to DO IT HIMSELF. The thing is, I really want to DO IT FOR HIM. We disagree over this one minor issue. However, now that I'm a seasoned mother (aka I'm old and I've been at this for over a decade now), I know that the best thing at this point in his life (as opposed to this point) is to restrain myself and let him do it himself.

I really, really want to take over because I want to avoid the mess. I don't want cornbread crumbs everywhere within a ten foot radius of his chair. I don't want spaghetti in his ears. I don't want yogurt in his hair. I don't want little invitations for ants all over my kitchen floor. And I certainly don't want rice in every crack of his body and his chair.

But, to avoid this situation long term I only have two options: 1. Feed this perfectly able-bodied child his dinner until he's 18 and headed off to college. 2. Let him learn how to do it well himself.

In the moment, I want to choose option 1, because I want to avoid the mess and the time it will take me to clean it up. However, though my children have sucked most of my brain cells from me, I am still smart enough to know that option 1 really isn't the best choice for me or my child. So, I turn my back, close my eyes, and force my arms to stay at my side while I listen to the happy sounds that mean he is most certainly making the biggest mess yet.

And that's when God showed me a little lesson straight from the highchair of a messy toddler.

Relationships are messy. People are a pain. But if you really want the payoff in the end of a person who is whole and mature and looks more like Jesus, you have to let them make a mess of you sometimes.

I like easy. Don't we all? I like people who make my life fun, people who I connect with, people who leave me with more of a skip in my step.

I don't so much like getting involved with people who need a lot of help or encouragement. I find myself avoiding people who it's hard to talk to. I don't want to invest my precious time with people who really don't seem able to give me anything in return. I don't want to choose the long, hard road versus the fun, easy road.

It's too messy. It requires too much work on my part. It's hard.

But I wonder if those are the very people that God would rather me spend time on. Isn't that the sort that Jesus spent time with? Didn't he say something about not inviting people over for dinner who can return the favor? Didn't he spend most of his time with a ragtag bunch of self-absorbed guys who didn't "get it"? Didn't he like to help people who had absolutely no chance of helping themselves?

It's just so hard to choose to step into or stay in those relationships and circumstances when you really have plenty of "fun, easy people" you could just keep hanging out with. It's so hard to choose to love when it doesn't come naturally. It's hard to invest the time in children, or spouses, or friends, or coworkers, or acquaintances who have a long way to go to be the people God wants them to be.

But if we shy away from those people or ditch those hard relationships, don't we look just like the world? Anybody can love the "fun people" who love them back. Jesus calls us to invest in the people who actually need us him. Even if it means cleaning up rice and spaghetti and cornbread crumbs for a long, long time.

In the end, I think it might be worth it.


Popular Posts