I love when things are clean.
Fresh linens, spotless floor, all trash taken out; crisp, clear water for swimming or dipping in toes, new car (or in my case, the two dollar “new car smell” tree we can afford), crystal clear windows, pleasant aromas that don’t involve diapers, perfect counter tops and equally clean stove and oven, fridge that is bleached (I have a thing for bleach) without any unintentional science experiments (involving new bacteria growth) on its shelves, vacuumed carpet, deep cleaned walls and baseboards…..
I mean, literally, my mood just elevated thinking of these conditions…. because I don’t have them for the most part (but we have removed the “fridge science experiments,” thank you very much.)
Perhaps I’ve been conditioned growing up in a rather spotless house and small family situation, and my mind still hasn’t adjusted all the way to having a large family. Or perhaps I see everyone else’s vehicles and when it comes to my van, I apologize every time I open the door, because I don’t know what empty water bottle or some other non-recyclable item will fall out. Perhaps my OCD just wants everything to be organized and clean, no matter the impossibility of such a notion with many young children if I want to spend a shred of time with them (other than cleaning for 24 hours a day…)
Sure, I’ve let go of a LOT when it comes to expecting perfection (or even normalcy) in a counter-cultural home where each day is unpredictable in the mess and “any other” department. But somewhere, deep down, I long for a heavenly idea of the Hollywood child who doesn’t have a speck of sand in her hair, and who’s well-tended lawn would never entertain a weed or a random toy, and who dares, I mean DARES to actually have white furniture.
*Note: the stress of having white furniture with children OR pets would probably kill me 😂
So we visited the local lake a few days ago. I took most of the children there, along with some dear friends who accompanied us, and my children began immediately either jumping into the “not crystal spring” water, or burying themselves halfway or most-way for fun in the sand.
After a few minutes, the kids in the sand would spring up and out and run around doing a different activity, wiping or rinsing the sand off themselves… all except for one of my daughters. She stayed there seeming to revel in the sand, spreading out her arms as if fully taking in the earth, letting the sand go all in her hair and not caring one bit.
She gave me pause, made me think… here I am, excited to rinse off the earth, the sand, and here she is, enjoying being sandy and messy, embracing it…. and smiling.
I, as a grownup, want to clean things, fix things, make situations and the messy people around me “acceptable” and remove the messy areas. I embrace what is good, but inside, subconsciously, I’m vacuuming people’s flaws, as well as my own, and the world’s flaws. So many times I deny the fact that we aren’t floating around as purified angelic creatures who have never had body odor and bad breath or worse flaws, like unloving hearts.
I think about how Jesus Himself traveled around, getting His feet dirty just like the rest of us. But how would He and His apostles fair in the world today? Or at least in first world countries? Aren’t we supposed to shower every day and smell nice and have spotless pressed clothes and shoes with no scuffs and furniture with no stains and shiny new cars with no dents and a bank account that shows we “have it all together”? Would He and His apostles look like poor and dirty and messy wanderers that upset our idyllic and well-manicured lives?
In my heart of hearts, I still want everything to be clean and perfect. And I don’t believe that’s so bad, because we were made for heaven and have that longing deep within if we are still longing for a good life. But I have to choose, because I can’t both have a family (of any size) and have everything organized and spotless in my life.
I guess I’ve chosen to be half-buried in the sand. And to smile. Because the fact that we are sandy and messy and not-perfect, covered in earth as a painter gets covered in splashed paint while creating a new picture, means that we are alive.
And we are getting “splashed” with life.