By Laurel Robinson
This spring, we put our house on the market. On photo day, it looked better than it has since we moved in! For several months beforehand, we tackled all those long-procrastinated projects -- painting, cleaning, tightening up, decluttering. We got rid of 15% of our stuff and packed up another 25% to hide in a storage unit. Still, when the cameras showed up, there was nowhere to hide. We were stuffing things into closets. We had to hide our trash cans and toilet brushes.
For the next 40 days, we had to live in our house, but also had to keep it neat. A showing at 6:30pm meant a simple dinner at 5:30 and complete cleanup afterward. Simply leaving the house for the day meant making all the beds, picking up any clutter, and emptying the trash just in case someone made a showing appointment while we were out.
During that time, I realized something about beauty and real work: doing major projects makes a mess, and if you want to keep things tidy, it’s best not to start any projects!
We all want to be beautiful. We want our lives to look good to the onlookers and visitors. But when keeping up appearances, there are certain things we can’t allow. If I am worried about my mascara running, I won’t let myself be moved to tears during worship. If I am concerned about impressing my fellow moms, I might just crack down on my kid’s behavior and not take the time to address the heart behind that behavior. If I want my marriage to appear perfect, I might never initiate a hard conversation that could start a fight - even though it would also lead to healing and a deeper connection.
I’m all for taking care of things right away and putting things back where they came from. But sometimes messes are necessary. Real work is messy. If you are decluttering or organizing, you know that it gets messier before it gets better. Same with crafts or cooking projects. You pull out all the supplies, and then you make dust, or crumbs, or scraps of fabric. The most fastidious among us put everything away when we are done -- but sometimes we are just not done, and we have to leave it all out for the next day. Or the next week. But creating something beautiful or delicious, or accomplishing something challenging, has rewards that are worth the mess.
This summer, as you get a break from many of the schedule commitments that keep you busy during the school year, I challenge you to pursue renewal. Take some time away from the rigors. You don’t even have to travel anywhere to do this! You can have a staycation. Just carve out some time, or create a new daily routine, and open yourself up to the Lord.
He may clean out your closets! He may make a mess for a little while. But--He may heal your wounds. He may teach you something new, help you accomplish something great, or give you a vision for the future. Wouldn’t that be worth the temporary mess?
Or, if you feel like your “closet” has already been emptied out and your “stuff” is all over the floor, take heart! God is able and willing to make something lovely out of it all. Come with an open mind and see what He will do. Expect great things from our great Creator.