What 30 Somethings Need to Hear: Embrace the Mess!

Embrace the Mess

This post is for all my 30-Something friends who have small children frolicking around their sometimes frenetic homes.

Embrace and Enjoy this Season

Life is messy. Add kids (or multiple kids) to the mix and it only gets messier. Children are resourceful, creative, and experimental. They are full of energy, imagination, and life. They are a JOY!! And… they are messy.

With the God-given natural desire for order (1 Cor. 14:33) in the heart of a parent, the regular rhythm of free-play giving way to obligatory “clean-up” times can be monotonous and, at times, maddening.

That’s when we need to remember that most important truth that our children are a GIFT from God (See Psalm 127:3-5). By any stretch, our time with them is short, and the moments we have every day are a blessing for us to embrace.

Encouragement from an Obscure Passage

I can remember reading through Proverbs 14 a few years ago and being encouraged in this regard by an obscure passage:

“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of an ox.” (Proverbs 14:4)

Obviously, this passage is speaking about oxen. If you have no oxen, your manger will always be clean. But as Derek Kidner has written, this passage “has many applications to personal, institutional and spiritual life.” I think it can serve us as parents.

It’s so easy to focus on all the messes that are around us: Clothes and shoes laying all over the floor, books not put away neatly in their shelves, toys scattered across the rooms of our already cluttered lives, dirty bathrooms, dirty dishes, and disheveled rooms.

But, really, would you trade the kisses, the hugs, the moments of ministry, and the warm embraces for a clean and quiet home? I wouldn’t.

I love the way Dennis and Barbara Rainey have put it:

“One day–sooner than we think–those muddy footprints, those marks on the wall, the spilled red Kool-Aid stains and piles of dirty diapers will be the things of the past that we miss. The late-night study sessions, the teen-age drama, watching your son drive away while you quietly pray for his safety, and the soul-searching conversations will be over. As James reminds us, even these moments will be gone like a mist (James 4:14). The house will be quiet. And we will hope for a phone call from those children we don’t see as often as we’d like. We cannot look past the blessing of the parenting years and the unparalleled privilege we have as parents to show our children they are our blessings.” (quoted in A Parent Privilege, by Steve Wright with Chris Graves, pages 69-70)

That’s a great quote for the fridge. What a helpful perspective! At the heart of it all, our children are a blessing and not a bother. God, give us grace to maintain this perspective and relate to our kids in this way!

If you, like me, are in the season of small children, let’s embrace our kids and embrace the mess. One day, sooner than we know it, we will miss having to clean up after these little blessings. Let’s enjoy it now!

I'm a husband, father of four, healthcare IT recruiter, pastor and writer. I live in the greater Nashville, TN area where I serve as an elder with Redeeming Grace Church (www.rgcnashville.com).

2 thoughts on “What 30 Somethings Need to Hear: Embrace the Mess!

  1. I know exactly how you are feeling. Children are wonderful blessings, and gifts to us from God. Your Mother and I have been blessed 1,000 times over by you, Stuart, and Tyson, and your wives and children. You are very right about 1 thing for sure. Time flies by, and, in a flash, your children have moved out their mess from your house, and, started their own families, and their own messes. Lol. Love you son. Well said.

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