The mess

“Clutter and mess show us that life is being lived…Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation… Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist’s true friend. What people somehow forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here.”
―Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

I know Brian is not a huge Anne Lamott fan, so he is probably cringing right now that I’ve used her here on the blog 😉 This is a quote from her book on writing, but with Lamott, you always get a message or two about life thrown in. She was huge for me in college, second only to Donald Miller.

I quote her today because I’m trying to hear her words and let them sink in, as I am living in a mess.

Brian would tell you that we are not living in a mess– but I know better. I see boxes and gifts and piles of things we don’t have a place for yet. I see things that need to be organized, dusted, sorted, thrown out, and simply dealt with. And since I don’t get home until 6:30 or 7:00 and then leave again at 6:40am, there simply isn’t time after the grading, thank you cards, dinner, and a couple hours of sleep. And my incredible husband with a heart to love on people keeps inviting those dang people over to come sit in our mess! Sigh.

So, what’s it going to take to change my eyes to see “that life is being lived” instead of chaos and dirt? How do I get past my “frozen form of idealism”? I just want to be that 1950’s picture of a wife so badly– the tidy home, the apron tied around the waist, the perfect hair, and dinner on the table when my husband gets home. But none of that is a reality. With my commute, Brian is having to cook dinner (which he is happy to do and spoils me with), and I look like someone who has been dealing with eleven year olds all day when I finally trudge through the door.

Life IS being lived. Why can’t I accept that? Our friends know what our schedules have been like– am I afraid of the judgment? Knowing that I theoretically have the ability to be an amazing hostess with a pristine house– is it that I need the compliments and approval?

Or maybe Lamott is right. Maybe I need this mess right now to find out who I really am and why I am here.

And if so, it’s a tough lesson.

4 thoughts on “The mess

  1. AMEN! Its a hard lesson. Mine was the opposite. I would let my house get SO out of control and it was embarrassing to have people over….at least, I realize that now. I learned a lot about myself in that mess. I realized why I lived the way I did. My mom was a perfectionist. I didn’t want to be like her, so I chose to be the exact opposite. I wanted relationships to be more important to me than a clean house…b/c I grew up with a mom that, in deed, showed me that a clean house is more important than relationships. I thought that I could live an incredible messy life just to prove to myself that I wasn’t like her. However, God showed me that I could actually be both. I could have a tidy house and STILL prioritize relationships. Thankfully, I started learning that before I got married. I’m more like Brian and my husband is more like you. For Ken to feel at ease at home, he likes our house put together and things picked up. It was very eye-opening for me to realize what it truly meant to be a Proverbs 31 wife. 😉 We’ve learned to compromise though. The more you get to know each other the easier it gets. Ken realizes that I hate to come home from work and work again, so he is good to help clean the kitchen since he doesn’t know how to cook. I know that he can feel peace at home when its clean and things are actually getting done, so I try to get a lot done on the weekend so when the new week starts, our house is “fresh”. Hang in there…God may be getting you to a place of realizing why having the house “perfect” means so much to you (like you said in the blog). It may just be a time that He shows you that we are all fallen and to extend grace to yourself. That its okay to not get the “to-do” list done and to enjoy life in spite of the mess. Don’t be too hard on yourself! It will all get done! This coming from the “other side” of the issue. 😉

    • Thank you, Beth. I so value your wisdom as one who has gone before me– keep it coming!

      I know I shouldn’t let it get to me as much as I do, but I’d really like to be moved in already and feel like it is my HOME. Guess it will take some more time. I’m still living out of boxes and suitcases as there simply hasn’t been 1. time to unpack them, and 2. a space to put these things. But it will happen and soon it will be my home. Pretty much wherever Brian is feels like home already 🙂

  2. Oh Lindsey! I wish we lived closer so we could have lunch. 🙂 I completely know how you feel! When I got married, I had been single for so long and I had a 3-bedroom house with two living areas all to myself (and my little French Bulldog). When I moved in with Ken (his house was on some land, so we wanted to live there), I was in culture-shock!!!! Our house is probably 300 sq ft smaller than my single-lady-house AND its not “functional”. Its an old farm house and just doesn’t make sense with house its set up. Anyway—when I moved in, I didn’t have a closet!!!! WHAT???? I’m crazy shoe-lady! I was dying for MONTHS! We did a complete gutting and remodel of our upstairs which took about 6 months (we didn’t start it until 4 months after we got married)…so I didn’t have a closet until about a year after we got married. There were days I just wanted to cry. Its so frustrating and unsettling to not feel at home. It will get there though! And just when you think you have it all settled, you’ll decide that its time to update the kitchen/bathroom/bedroom OR something! 😉

    • No closet?! You might win there… I was upset I didn’t have a drawer for my underoos yet.

      I wish we lived closer, too. I had heard so much about you before the wedding and after meeting you, I know it all to be true 🙂

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