The Messy Middle


Before I even begin this post I may as well just make a confession.

I do not excel at cleaning my house.

You know how you go into some homes and everything is so spotless that you don’t even have to look into the closets to just know that they are probably organized by color and size? The fact that you could eat from the floor gives pretty solid proof that their pantries probably do not hold any old boxes of crackers, a bag of chips with just a few crumbs remaining, or empty tasty-cake boxes?

Anyway, that’s not my house.

I am just not one of those women who is checking my pantry every day for empty boxes. I am not one of those women who is cleaning out my cabinets every week…er…month…or even year?? I confess, I just believe there are so many other important things to do!

If you are one of those women who keeps a really neat house, then your family is blessed! Many have been the–shall we call them discussions?– regarding my method of housecleaning. Now, I do want you to understand that I do not keep a hovel. My house is basically clutter-free and clean–at least the areas that you can see when you visit!

BUT if you look into any given cabinet or closet…well, just don’t do it, okay? It may be dangerous. I try to stay after them. I really do. But–like I said– there are so many other things to do and, with six “not-so-tidy” people living here, well, they quickly become disorganized again, anyway.

But yesterday, I decided to tackle my family room. I don’t think I had actually thoroughly cleaned the cabinets in that room for several years. They were therefore unusable. I had a basic idea what was in there, but knew I would probably find a few surprises, too. I also decided to change the furniture around to make for more seating and to clean out a few other baskets.

The messy middle came about 30 minutes into the project. This was exactly why I didn’t want to start in the first place! And why I had put it off for so long.

So. Much. Stuff.

What is this? What if I give this away and then I need it again later? What in the world does this cord belong to? Where is the case for this dvd? Why do we even have this dvd?  If I haven’t read this magazine from last year, I wonder if I ever will?

While I was in the midst of all that clutter and stuff, which was spread all over my kitchen table and family room floor, one of the kids came in.

“Wow, this is a mess.”

Yes, I know. Thanks for telling me.

Another one came in.

“Whoa! What are you doing?”

?? Really? I thought it was obvious.

I started to get discouraged and overwhelmed. I would escape to my computer every 15 minutes or so to check e-mail and Facebook. Anything to escape the dreariness of what lay ahead. I did not want to finish this job. But it had to be done. For goodness’ sake, we couldn’t even eat a family meal until this job was finished.

And so, I finally made myself sit and work without any escape. I forced myself to finish the big job I had undertaken, even though I didn’t really feel like it.

After it was all done, I looked over my rearranged and clean family room with the satisfaction of a job well-done. It was so miserable in the middle, but the end result made it so worth it!

Oh, how true this is in so many areas of life! Raising kids can get very messy in the middle, can it not? Marriages can get pretty messy, too. As can extended family relationships, church situations, and job situations.

Oftentimes, we warily stand back, so fearful to address an issue. Sometimes we are just lazy. And sometimes we are just too busy. We just figure it will have to go away sometime. And, very occasionally, that does happen.

But, just like my messy cabinets weren’t going to disappear, most problems aren’t going anywhere, either. And just like the cabinets grew worse– more layers of dust, more stuff, more disorganization, so do our problems grow bigger and deeper. And so we need to face them head on and deal with them. And, YES, dealing with it will be messy and unpleasant and hard work. But we can’t give up in the middle. We have to keep going so that we can get to the other side.

And when we do, we will feel a peace and satisfaction that is comparable to little else this world has to offer.

The messy middle is no fun. That’s the truth, plain and simple. But the results are so worth it.

And now you know far more about me  and my house-cleaning practices than I wish you did but don’t let it be said that I’m not willing to sacrifice my reputation for the Lord ;)


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