Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Apathy or Perspective?

In a funk.  Stuck in a rut.  Discouraged.  Overwhelmed.  Depressed.

A few weeks ago I felt like I was sinking in the above emotions.  Nothing terribly serious, just a bad day that I couldn't quite shake.  I was in a funk over meeting the diverse needs of so many. Stuck in a rut of sin--slogging through the same potholes of impatience and anger over and over again.  Discouraged by our messy house.  Overwhelmed by the impossibility of ever keeping it clean.  Depressed by my own bad attitude.  After all, motherhood is supposed to be joyful.  Why wasn't I feeling it?

As often happens in challenging times, I turned to the Lord, praying sincerely for His help to bail me out our of the murk.  And as often happens, these prayers were answered--just not in the way I expected.

I felt...


Okay, perhaps apathy is too strong of a word. After all, indifference is the antithesis of love. Yet in a sense, this absence of concern encapsulates what I felt. When it came to the house, I suddenly ceased to stress about the mess. Sure, there was just as much work to be done, but the veneer of triviality suddenly made the chores more bearable. Smudges all over the glass?  Our very own kaleidoscope.  Dishes in the sink?  Just feeding the ants.  Grimy doorhandles?  We're building immunity.

Perhaps instead of removing my concerns through apathy, the Lord in his great wisdom bestowed a much greater gift--a moment of perspective. Life is simply too short to waste digging for far-away treasure when riches lay scattered at your feet. At this stage in my life, a perfectly organized home simply isn't attainable. So why make myself unhappy trying to grasp it when I've been blessed with something much greater--a loving family.  Whether we are eight or eighty-eight, each of us has limited time. So how will I spend my days?  Pining over dusty shelves?  Sighing about sticky fingers?  Coveting my neighbor's pantry? Or putting down the dishrag to play a game of Uno.

Interestingly, as I made peace with our physical home by embracing its natural disorder, this peace filtered through other areas of my life.  Instead of futilely spinning my wheels striving for a lost cause (and let's face it, when you have young children, a perfectly organized home is a lost cause), I could save my energy for the things people  that really matter.  Meeting the basic needs of my family is much more achievable when I give them my primary focus instead of the dirty floor.  Impatience and anger diminish when I view my children as more than the culprits who drag in mud, scatter their toys, and soil the laundry.  Light replaces depression when you force yourself to stop trying to micro-manage your environment and enjoy the small moments.

Happiness is here, right now, this minute, today.  It's not to be reserved for that elusive moment when the chores are done.  Beauty can be created in the midst of mess, disorder, and imperfection.  As for apathy, I never would have considered it divine, yet the realization that some things really don't matter has been a precious gift from God.

So when it comes to my messy house, I don't much care.  Yet when it comes to my family, I absolutely do.  And that is what makes our home sparkle.


Here are a few pictures of some small moments we have recently enjoyed.

Picnicking in our front-yard fort.

Embracing the mess of painting.
"All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." --Pablo Picasso

A beautiful mess.
The final creations.

In honor of Aunt Christy.
Proud artists in front of a happy fridge.
With so much art adorning our appliances, who'll ever notice a few water stains?


Callie said...

You're super-mom, super-wife, and super-sista' no matter what adjective you choose to describe your mood. The art is beautiful, the kids look great, and the stay cation magical. Thanks for taking the time to post before your camping trip - please give that four-legged niece of yours a hug from her mum. We miss you guys! Hoping to see you sooner rather than later.... :)

Susie said...

I think when you have such creative, talented, and intelligent children like you two have, there's bound to be the moments of messes as they explore and develop their talents and abilities. You are an incredible mom and give them so many opportunities to learn. I love how you describe how you came to terms with it all. I understand the feeling--I just didn't know how to put it in words so eloquently when I experienced that same struggle years ago!