My garden is a mess.
There are weeds all over the place, plants have moved from their neatly assigned areas, some plants have popped up unannounced, and it’s general pandemonium.
Last summer I gave up on the endeavor altogether because of what was happening in our family, but I thought this summer would be different.
It appears I overestimated myself.
This is the way of life. One has grand schemes and expectations, and they are constantly de-prioritized or set aside for later. Maybe that later comes, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe, in the process of waiting and with one’s attention otherwise occupied, one discovers the earlier scheme or expectation didn’t really deserve that amount of assigned value anyway. Sometimes I think we get too constricted in our expectations and it makes us miss the beauty that’s all around us.
That which we think is earth-shatteringly important sometimes mellows with time and experience.
On the other hand, some things become heightened and take on greater value because they’ve been forced aside and in so doing, have been sorely missed.
Call it a separating of the wheat and chaff of life.
For example, I’ve chosen to not freak out about my house being less than 100% clean all the time. I may have a predisposition to care about this less than the next person, but I’m not immune to mess-frustration. There are piles of papers here and there, toys get left on the coffee table, and I’ve frequently had to dig clothes off the foot of my bed. A lot. That’s okay with me most of the time, and when it’s not, we work together to get things picked up (“Leave me a path!” was my refrain when I had a baby in my arms and two kids ages four and two playing on the floor). We’re all getting better about doing the daily tasks that make playing easier, since finding toys is more fun when you can actually FIND them.
But cleaning isn’t really the thing anyway, is it? It’s the feeling of peace or contentedness that comes from an atmosphere at home. For some people, a laundry basket spilling over into the floor would detract from that sense of peace; for me it takes a basket of CLEAN and FOLDED clothes spilling onto the floor to disrupt my flow.
Cleaning is chaff.
Mess is a way of life for me, even more in the past couple years. Emotional mess, the mess of grief and loss, the mess of rocky faith and anger and life-changing medical diagnoses. These are the main, most pressing issues at hand, and physical mess has probably grown messier in the midst of that. Mess is in the eye of the beholder, after all, and if the bananas on my counter are just a tad overripe [read: brown and smushy], I’ll use them for banana bread…eventually. But bigger than that, the act of prioritizing certain things over others allows us to invest our time (and our energy) in those places that need it most.
What messy things are wheat? What messy things are worth time and investment? Some are subjective but in my humble opinion, these are universal:
Community and Friendship
Creativity and Art
These things can’t be boxed or formulated. They’re organic and impromptu and feelings get hurt and there are misunderstandings. But the benefits and joys they bestow are so glorious, so life altering, they are worth the risk.
When I place restrictions myself, such as those constraints that tell me not to make a mess, not to mess up, not to make a mistake or a misstep, I operate from obligation or fear. There’s little freedom in that.
- When I keep my thoughts to myself and don’t risk speaking up, I allow my silence to speak for me and in so doing I align myself with ideas and positions I don’t truly hold.
- When I don’t listen to the prompting of my conscience (and what I’ve learned is the Holy Spirit), I deprive myself and others of what could potentially be a moment of encouragement and connection.
Those things are messy and they come with risk. But isn’t that what living wholeheartedly is like? Messy, risky, a little bit scary, and ultimately liberating? I think it is, or that’s what I’m discovering it to be.
What about you? What areas of your life are messy right now, and are they messy in all the good ways? In what ways might you loosen your grip on perfection and expectations you hold for yourself in order to allow for spontaneity and freedom?
Tonight I’m linking up with Esther Emery and the #wholemama lovelies. Click here to dash over to her site and be amazed by her off-grid lifestyle and passionate writing, as well as finding other new blogs to follow.