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.
For whatever reason, it has been suggested that a cat wants to be a lion. Yes, you heard right, a cat is tired of its current feline status and wants a change. But from how we view actual cats, I am sure any cat is fine with its makeup. I will go out on a limb and infer that when Smokey and Sprinkles approach a mirror, they are quite in love with their own unique beauty. In fact, Zoo Miami expert, Ron Magill, says that most animals are unaware of their own size. So Smokey is content when he struts his stuff. Yet, the world’s wisdom wants us to believe, subtly, that to be important or to have an impact, you as God made you, are insufficient. The world says, you can be great, all you have to do is turn into something that is impossibly out of your range. Sounds like self-help that has gone out of its mind. Why should we try to be something God never created us to be?
Listen, this is not to give us an excuse to not push ourselves. We need to test our talents, abilities, and strengths to the max. But it is our strengths, not someone else’s strength. A cat will do well against mice in the city; but it is a safe bet it has little chance of overcoming a wildebeest in the planes. Yet, the message we are presented is we need to be something out of our range to have success.
Now, this may come off as self-help but lets get higher. If you allow me to go Sunday morning quickly, Psalm 119:73 states, “Your hands created me and made me what I am. Help me understand so that I may learn Your commandments.” We are who we are. The Lord made us the way we are. Often times, we may think we lack what other people have to be successful. But God has given us what we need. And truth be told, the little thing we think we have, is greater than what the world perceives as grand (1 Corinthians 1:25-31). God takes our smallness and elevates us, not to better ourselves, but to, as Pastor Marvin Winans so eloquently put it, “to make us His”. God wants us to be His, just as He made us. Rest assured He will stir up the treasures we have on the inside of us, as He teaches us His ways. He will lead us to good success and He will make us beautiful in His time. So be a cool cat. Look to God first and His righteousness, then when we look in the mirror, we can appreciate that our purr is powerful.