Certain phenomenon never seem to come to an end -- among them, the reality show Survivor, the month of February (it is not the shortest month if you go by feeling), and housework. There never is an end to housework.
Recently, I walked into our computer room and was met with this view: a sectional couch without any seat cushions. From this picture the room looks clean. Spartan, even. This is because everything that once was located in this room (including couch cushions) had been dragged into the adjacent room.
Translation: the adjacent room no longer had visible carpeting, just mounds of cushions, pillows, toys, some socks, an assortment of dish towels, a few plastic bowls and sippy cups, and a horde of toys.
The girls must have had a field day with this one.
Now, I needed to work in this computer room. I needed to resist the impulse to enter the adjacent room. I needed to sit at the computer desk, turn my back to this cushionless sectional couch, and focus on my task.
I have the hardest time focusing in the midst of mess.
I could feel that the room was off. It called to me: something is not right here, something is amiss, something is unfinished. You see, in my perfect world, things always are tidy. Couches have cushions, laundry is folded, shoes are lined up with their mates, and the grass is cut.
The problem is that this world doesn't exist for long. Tasks are completed for brief moments, only to be unfinished the next.
It's not just in my world. The employee stocking shelves at the grocery store has to organize the bread aisle each morning. The teenager folding clothes at the Gap has to rearrange the browsed-through merchandise every evening. The postal worker has to sort through the influx of new mail each day.
Plus, those everyday parts of life that remain hidden -- the disappointments, the hurts, the concerns -- are infinitely messier than the messes that we can detect with the naked eye and clean up with our hands.
Life isn't tidy. And it's never going to be -- not this side of heaven.
That's why I want to be a person who can live at ease in the midst of mess. Not ignoring the mess, not living in denial, not running from it, but remaining at peace within it and staying anchored when everything around me is churning and swirling and chaotic.
Jesus said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
Messes never will come to an end. If you're alive, you're fair game for them. But, praise God, he's bigger and more constant than our messes. In fact, he's the same yesterday, today, and forever.
(That's even longer than 23 seasons of Survivor. Just in case you were wondering.)