Living is really messy.
Maybe you don't need to have four kids to tell you that, but this is part of what having four kids has taught me.
And its not just the kind of messy where little fingers leave peanut butter and jelly prints all the way down the fridge and across the wall and through the woods all the way through the house they go kind of messy or the the kind of messy that produces piles of dirty laundry or dirty dishes or dirty floors or dirty cars.
Living is also the kind of messy that means hurt feelings, disagreements, failure and heartache.
This year, I've tried, like, really tried to organize the physical messiness out of life with chore charts, organization and schedules.
Somewhere in this attempt at organization, I had also implemented tight regulations and protective boundaries to minimize further chaos.
Let me honestly tell you that this whole organizing the mess started as a survival thing because of the need for high structure in bringing home our two adopted daughters and the shear crazed schedule that went along with that; four kids at three different school environments with various therapy and educational needs and no bussing help and me being the tether holding it all together meant we did honestly needed more structure and organization in our life in order for life to work.
But somewhere in all of that organization and keeping the structure standing, I got a little lost and I stopped just short of bubble wrapping and securing with duct tape all of the kids.
Sometimes the line between organization and controlling the chaos is so thin we find it impossible to walk without tripping face first into control freak.
As my efforts at organization morphed into attempts at controlling the chaos, I found that my joy flat out fizzled beneath the weight of it all. As did the joy of the other people in our house. It was a miserable month.
I was fortunate enough to have a friend speak hard but truthful words into my life, reminding me that we cannot take the potential for messy out of life without also taking out a lot of the potential for joy. Really living includes experiencing a full gamut of emotions and learning to navigate all of them, even the unpleasant ones.
More simply, really living is the kind of messy I am finding I cannot organize the mess out of ... At least not without great cost. There is great cost in trying to control the chaos that is life, and try as I may, I've been finding that I just cannot bubble wrap feelings, emotions or experiences without ending up just completely deflated.
Feelings are going to be hurt, and this can't be avoided without avoiding relationships or staying shallow in them because the risk of being hurt is a function of being in relationships comprised of different people sharing different thoughts, ideas and feelings.
Being known and loved because you're awesome is awesome.
Being known and loved because you are you in all of your awesome imperfectness is called unconditional love.
Mistakes are going to be made, and this is part of learning, growing and just being plain and simple human.
Ideas are going to fail, and this is part of the process of succeeding because in order to create we must innovate and try new things, of which many won't quite work.
While I haven't given up my chore charts and I'm stopping just short of implementing spreadsheets because oh, dear God, is nothing sacred to me anymore, I'm finding myself learning to recognize more and more what kinds of boundaries and organization are good and life giving and life sustaining and joy bringing
and which ones are just flat out life sucking.
Having four children has taught me a great deal about the difference of living in the fullness of joy and just barely surviving.
It's taught me organization has its place.
And it's taught me that, yes, living is really messy.
But more than all of that it's taught me that really living is worth the mess.