My life feels busy—sometimes crazy busy. While homeschooling five kids who are in various activities, it feels like a lot of juggling to make it all work. And although I aspire to have a clean and organized home, the reality is that I am so not there. I can even feel the chaos creeping in—a few more dirty dishes in the sink, a few more books piled on the counter, a few more puzzle pieces left out. Then, if I’m not careful, it’s full on crazy-town house, where there is crusted play dough on the carpet, piles of dirty clothes, and don’t even ask about the kitchen. What happened? Why is it so chaotic? Because kids? Because I’m a bad house keeper? Because my hubby doesn’t pick up the slack?
It’s not really any of that. It’s that my surroundings begin to dictate my feelings, and I have let the chaos in. It enters through my perception of my circumstances. Because the truth really is that even if I had a perfect system and was on top of my schedule and my house was perfectly clean and my kids were actually tiny self-cleaning robots, these things would not guarantee my sanity—and I would not automatically have peace. Because there would always be something else. Because the enemy doesn’t play fair, and even if I had the best hand, he’d throw in the ace he’s hidden up his sleeve. He cheats by whispering: You aren’t good enough. You haven’t cleaned up enough. You are failing miserably, and it is your fault. And nothing could be further from the truth.
Because it’s not an equation. Because a clean house doesn’t equal success whereas a messy house equals failure. Because there are seven of us and we are all still learning how to live together. Because we all need grace Every. Single. Day. Grace says, I refuse to judge you for your sticky floor because I see your heart and know that making pancakes with your toddler says love so much more than a freshly mopped floor. Grace says, yes the space is cluttered but let’s work on this together as a team—without blaming or casting judgment on the sloppiest child (who also may be the most creative). Grace says, in the midst of the chaos—the whirling storm of judgment beating down on your soul—choose peace.
In the gospels, there is an account of Jesus calming a literal storm. Jesus was with his disciples late one night on a boat, and a “furious” storm broke out, where waves were actually crashing into the boat. The storm was so terrible that the disciples thought they were going to die. And in the middle of this awful storm, Jesus was sound asleep. He was at complete peace in the middle of complete chaos. The chaos was around but it was not within. “The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” (Mark 4:38-39)
I am reminded of Jesus on that boat when I think about my daily struggles. When I choose to reject those critical voices within, the storm calms and there is peace. Because there will be seasons that things don’t look perfect on the outside. There will be sticky counters and messy projects and piles of laundry. And so the storms will rage. But looking past the outward, going deep within—that is the place to find rest. And this is a reminder to me, to choose peace in the middle of my mess.
I’ve known my husband for 18 years. I wouldn’t change who I married, even on the days when I feel like I might scream! We all know the feeling. One thing I’ve learned…Relationships take work!
The love chapter
A common Scripture read at weddings, mine included, is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.” God reminds me of the part “keeps no records of wrongs” and uses it as a way to help me move past the “little things.”
Love is forgiving
A friend and I were having a conversation about love, relationships, marriage and how to make it all work. Since she is new in her walk with Jesus, I shared this verse with her. It captivated her! Jokingly I added “I just wish that pesky part ‘keeps no record of wrongs’ wasn’t in there! “Keeping no record of wrongs” is vital in any love-rooted relationship. What good comes from keeping a list of wrongs? All we do with that list is rehearse it and bring it up again to pour salt in old wounds. It leads to bitterness. Hebrews 12:5 says, “See to it…that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Ephesians 4:2 says that we are to “…make allowances for each other’s faults because of your love.” These are hard but essential things I allow the Spirit to work on me. They are those pesky parts of the Bible that apply to my life, even if I wish I could ignore them or that they didn’t apply to me. God loves us so intensely that He knows how we need to love.
Loving how God loves us
I think about the song “How He Loves” with the words by Crowder, “He is jealous for me. Loves like a hurricane; I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy. When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory and I realized just how beautiful you are and how great your affections for me…Oh how He loves us, oh how He loves us, how he loves us so…” Loving whoever is in our lives can be challenging but by loving in a way that God loves… patient, kind, not envious or selfish, keeping no record of wrongs (my favorite), not allowing a bitter root to grow and making allowances for faults…all of these are imperative for a lasting and successful relationship. God knows how we should love so not only does His love give us an example, but His Word gives us plenty of instructions on how to love. Keep your love rooted in God so your love will flourish.