I’m a first-born, Type A, slightly psychotic organizer. I like structure. Lists. Organization. Order.
In my eyes, the most beautiful piece of art that hangs on my wall is my color-coded calendar and meal planning board (the woman who turned my life’s lists into home artwork is a genius!).
Although my own sister is this extraordinarily talented professional artist, I received none of those art appreciation genes. Beauty IS a pantry organized and categorized into matching white bins with perfectly centered labels. Sometimes, like a good appreciator of art, I even open my pantry door to observe their loveliness. To stare at them in all their uniform glory, sitting so obediently in straight lines and doing exactly what’s expected of them.
Order — THAT’s beautiful.
Chaos — that’s my ugly.
It’s God’s funny joke that He would place this order obsessor in the middle of mayhem-filled military life with three energetic boys and a heart for superheroes-in-waiting. Because life in this superhero-filled home is nothing short of cape and combat chaos.
We have boys darting through hallways, beating each other with foam noodles-turned-light-sabers, in nothing but underwear. On the really good days.
We have toothpaste tubes with missing lids oozing dried blue liquid (which is a miracle in itself, because it means that these tubes have actually at some point been USED by little boys who think hygiene is a dirty word) onto sinks that were supposedly cleaned on Cleaning Saturdays but look more like petri dishes than basins for hand washing.
The droppings from breakfasts 1, 2 and 3 (they eat Hobbit style) make homes in the cracks of our kitchen tile, and Legos and little boy laundry litter the floors of our halls in piles that are NOT categorized by size and color.
And don’t even get me started on the stench of stinky boy feet that have been crammed into summer sandals, run around 7 acres and then smeared all over the seats of our couch. No amount of Febreeze can redeem our poor shoe bins. R.I.P., cute matching baskets. Only bleach can help you now.
And although I absolutely adore the pace and energy (and even smells) of this loud and lively life, sometimes, if I’m really honest, I miss out on the day-to-day BEAUTY, simply because it’s painted in the colors of chaos, clutter and commotion.
My organization lover’s eyes automatically focus on the trail of toys, the heaps of books, the pile of dried out Play Doh and the missing marker lids I find in every corner of the house. And instead of wonder and appreciation for the curious minds and the various explorations of these boys, I feel stress.
The thing is, sometimes God is making a MASTERPIECE, and I miss it because all I can see is a MESS.
Because it’s in the middle of the kitchen, cloaked in pesto and olive oil, standing over sauce-smeared counters and scraping burnt parmesan from blackened pans that Superhero 1, a foodie who wants to be a chef, learns to cook.
It’s in the middle of the mountains of markers and crayons and stamps and other foreign-to-me art-making devices that Superhero 2, a feeler and a giver with a heart of gold, practices creating the art he routinely gives as cheer-up gifts to others.
It’s in the midst of the water that soaks the floor from the wet bathing suits that follow pool days that Superhero 3, who before surgery couldn’t use his right hand as a scooper, practices occupational therapy lessons and learns to swim.
The mess is part of the process. And when I step back, I see it’s also part of the beauty.
Without the mess, we never get to the masterpiece. To the cauliflower au gratin that served 18 people for Christmas dinner. To the cards hand-delivered to neighbors who were blessed by little boy encouragement. To a fully-functioning right hand strengthened by the exercise of swimming.
It takes the MESS to make it to the MASTERPIECE.
So God is teaching me how to stop — not AFTER the mess is cleaned up and the markers are color coded and the uniforms are back in their closets and the kitchen no longer smells like burnt bacon. But now — in the MIDDLE of the mess. And open my eyes.
Because right here in the mess is the BEAUTY of the CREATION. The beauty of the BEGINNINGS. The seedlings of those things God wants to start sprouting not only in the lives of these superheroes, but in mine.
It’s in the muck. It’s in the dirt. It’s right here. And He’s teaching me that life doesn’t have to be organized, clean-cut and color-coded to be BEAUTIFUL.
Beautiful is the friendship that develops when superheroes are wrestling in dirt and racing through mud.
Beautiful is the heart of little boys who carry around a 2D figure of their host brother who missed his flight from China and was delayed a month coming to the United States.
And beautiful is the character God grows in each member of our team every time the military changes our schedule, deploys our soldier or moves our family on last-minute orders.
God makes artwork out of anarchy and beauty out of bedlam. But to see the art in progress, I have to be willing to open my eyes.
Lord, teach me how to embrace the MESS as a BEAUTIFUL STEP in the making of the MASTERPIECE.
“True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time — but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going. I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life.”
~ Ecclesiastes 3:11 (The Message)