After our second cross-country move and some “in between” living arrangements we were finally settling in to a spacious apartment home. Everything was brand new, the windows were huge, the view was beautiful, and with the walls painted and the furniture in place it seemed just about perfect for this next season of life. Moving is chaotic… order was a welcomed change!
To top it all off, we were finally able to get some new couches. Having sold our sectional for our last big move we had been “enjoying” a small love seat that had been following us since my husband’s bachelor days. With the vibrant wall colors and the beige carpeting, the new sofas looked crisp and beautiful… and light crème. Wow, aren’t I a middle school pastor’s wife? Crème couches? What was I thinking! “It will be fine…” I thought. However, it seemed the Lord thought it would be more than fine… it would be a great source of a lesson for me.
One reason we like to create a warm home is to make people feel welcome. During the snow storm last year our hallway was lined with slushy boots and wet coats as middle schoolers took a break from sledding to play games in our living room. That’s what I wanted! But still, after so much moving and chaos, I was becoming a little addicted to my new clean living space… hovering over our guests a bit, even while trying to seem like I didn’t care about the mess.
Then one day the Lord decided I was ready for my lesson. I’d been spending time with a middle school girl each week, cooking dinner together, playing Yahtzee, and talking about life. It was a real blessing to both of us! With such limited time, we’d taken to eating on the couches while we played games. One night dinner was spaghetti. I watched as the fork fell from the plate, flinging sauce as it twirled, eventually landing on the carpet. I made it no big deal –it was an accident. I fought my urge to interrupt our meal by running to grab my scrubber and Spot Shot. She meant so much more to me than the floor/furniture, I didn’t want her to feel bad. So I lightly blotted it up and we went on with our night. Still, inside, I was bummed about the stain.
The next day in my quiet time I came across this verse:
“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” Proverbs 14:4 (ESV)
I laughed out loud! “What’s the POINT of having a manger –an animal’s food trough- if you’ve got no animals?” Yes, and what is the point of a home without the people? I didn’t want an ordered photo shoot to live in! I wanted a home –and even those crème couches- so that people could be there! The trough may get messy when the animals are around, but there is no abundance without them. In the same way, an abundant life comes from the blessing by those we love and serve –mess or not.
Now spaghetti stains, sunken cushions, cup rings, and other signs of wear and tear are special reminders that we’re “spending” –using up!- all that we’ve been given on loving.
Maybe for you that looks like glue on your table, crayon on the walls, mountains of family laundry, or dishes in the sink from a roommate. Whatever it is, may those things that can seem like tarnish become for you signs of life. May your messes be a reminder of the abundance you’ve been given in those God’s given you to love!