Around midnight last night I began musing about messes. I'm not sure why my brain decided to begin composing a blog post after I'd already been asleep, but I was now awake and that's what it thought would be a good idea.
I smiled in the dark, thinking about one of the kids' favorite episodes of Peppa Pig, the one about the Muddy Puddles. If you haven't had the pleasure of watching this gem of a show, you are missing out. Even though our oldest two were too old for it, technically, that didn't stop them or me from getting a huge kick out of the British accents, the ridiculousness of a family of pigs wearing clothes and interacting with other animals, and most of all, their dialogue. If you're curious, here is the link to the episode: click here . I had nothing to do with the art, production, etc. and claim no credit.
The kids loved the reaction to the observation, "look what a mess you're making" being a simple, "oh." They use this line on me whenever I'm ready to blow my stack over whatever current catastrophe-in-the-making they are embarking on. I think their favorite part is that in order to play in the mud, the pigs must first put on boots. *blink blink* Yeah, I'll just leave that there for now.
It made me think about the adventures little kids begin: finger painting, texture tables, solid "finger foods", play doh, smash cakes, and yes, mud puddles.
Why is it that we encourage all of these activities for the under 5 crowd (and then briefly revisit them during college, perhaps; I have treasured, fond memories of playing in mud puddles with friends both at camp and at my university) but experience such a cerebral "ugh, are you kidding me" reaction when someone wants to drag out the play doh bin or the beads or the entire collection of Legos? Or, God forbid, glitter? But then why do we pay actual money to sign ourselves up for Warrior Dashes and Tough Mudders to justify playing in the mud? When did we get so afraid of Mess?
Why is so much advertising focused on the unending stream of products formulated to clean up our messes? We have some for laundry, separate from the ones for dishes, more for floors, specific window cleaners, furniture polishes, ones designed specially for our vehicles, and then we start on our bodies. Having no hair this summer streamlined my maintenance routine in more ways than one; I didn't have to participate in the shampoo, conditioner, serum, mousse, gel, texture, hairspray, product arena. I did still need the soaps and lotions and toothpaste and hand soap...
Did you know you can wash dishes with dirt?
Why this obsession with
One of the very best pieces of advice an online friend gave me years ago was, "they are coming for dinner, not inspection." Thank you, Oli, wherever you are. That observation was pure genius and has freed me from so much stress over the years. Your friends, your family, your youth group, are all coming over because they love you and enjoy your company. Stop stressing over the fact that your family or your self are imperfect human beings who make messes. Get out the "good" china and enjoy it (maybe not with the youth group)- that's its function, to be used! Those plates want food on them! Use your imagination and envision the dishware from Beauty and the Beast and their desire to serve. If it stays in the cupboard/attic/garage, why even have it?
One of the reasons our church heavily promotes being part of a small group is because over time those people become like family, ready to wade into whatever mess is currently taking up space in your life. Life is messy for all of us. For some it's relational: a marriage struggling, a fractured friendship, a prodigal child. For others it's a health crisis, a diagnosis you never saw coming (been there, done that), chronic something or other that never lets go, age, or some combination of them all. There's always the Fun and Games that life throws at you like being laid off, a car accident, a transfer to the unknown. You could name twenty others if you thought about it. The point is that you need those people to enter into your mess, and you into theirs. We are not intended to go it alone.
So please decide in this still-new, still-fresh year to create time to spend drawing closer to someone else. If even the idea of having people over terrifies you or sets your anxiety level into the atmosphere, tweak it. Choose to meet up somewhere else, somewhere you're all comfortable. I realize for some people that means online, and while I get that, you really need to be careful too. I'm talking another person you can actually touch, because they are important in different ways. I don't want anyone ending up like Sandra Bullock's character in "The Net." Find a mentor, try out a new hobby, join a class (it doesn't have to be a gym, but if that kills multiple birds with one stone then go for it), start a book club, just find some way to connect with the people around you. You wouldn't want them to miss out on you, right!? And by this time next year or a few years down the road, you might have a Tribe that you wonder how you'd ever do life without. Thanks for being a part of mine.