I like order in my home. Clutter drives me crazy. Especially other people’s clutter.
I’m not great at maintaining a clutter free world. But I do my best. Well, that’s wrong. If what I do is my best. My best sucks. Let’s say I make an effort.
I am great at being a hypocrite though. When the little order that exists in my home is disrupted, my boxers get bunched.
Last week, I walked out of the bedroom. Went past the sleeping girls. Walked past the guest room. Then to the living room, dining room and kitchen. Along the way I thought my house was struck by several small tornadoes.
My in-laws were staying with us. Most house guests are messy in their own way. My in-laws are no different. They are clean. But cluttered.
Clutter and chaos doesn’t bother them. It launches a PTSD-like response in me.
I am learning something though. I walked along and saw the tornadic tussling of towels, covers, and other fabric mish-mash. And I realized it didn’t matter.
Last year, maybe last week, I would have had an acidic response. Even it was only to myself. I would have grimaced and grumbled. And grumbled, again. Today, I just observed. And grimaced, briefly. Very briefly.
It didn’t matter.
Love is messy. And my in-laws love wonderfully.
It’s easy to love when everything’s perfect. That’s not love. It’s being happy because you have things your way. Someone who’s happy tends to appear loving. Love is only worth anything when given freely in the face of a mess.
The mess can be anything that veers from the perfect world you yearn to create, preserve and protect. The underwear on the floor, the way they snap with an attitude when they’re tired or frustrated, the empty bottle from last night, the way they come home late without calling, the dishes in the sink, or the way they curse too much at church …
Today, I found joy in the mess.
Love is easy when life is clean. It can be boring, banal and is taken for granted. Yet we innately seek the easiest. Even when it’s less rewarding.
Life becomes more interesting, challenging and fun when we have to get dirty. That’s also when it’s the hardest. This is when love is worth the most. And when it offers the most joy.
You can strain and stress to keep things perfect and clean. Or you can accept you’re not in control. It’s when we get over ourselves that we can be overwhelmed by love.
It’s not always clean. It’s far from easy. But it’s worth it.