Dirty Dishes

My mom came to pick up a few of my kids for the day yesterday.  I am still not sure if she was rescuing me from them or rescuing them from me… Anyway, she stayed to visit for a little bit and as she sat at my kitchen table, with the coloring pages, books, sticky smudges and a cereal bowl or two, I felt compelled to say “Sorry the kitchen is such a mess.”  Like I was gonna get grounded or something, I guess.  She just laughed and said it didn’t bother her in the least.  (She never really minded having a messy kitchen when we were little, either.)  But I still felt the need to explain that I had run the dish washer twice the day before, and what was in the sink was just what wouldn’t fit in the last load.  Because, really, I just couldn’t face the thought of washing a few by hand?  Seriously.

It has occurred to me on more than one occasion, that if I had worked this hard when I only had 3 kids at home, I would have had an immaculate house.  But I didn’t.  And I have come to the conclusion that there is just a level of “messy” that we are all comfortable with, and we will work as hard as we have to in order to maintain that level of messy.  We live with and tolerate what we are comfortable with.  And then feel the need to apologize or rationalize when we fear it might not measure up to someone else’s comfort level or expectations.  Interesting.

This isn’t really a post about dirty dishes and tables… I am just wondering this morning how to go about raising my own standards… You know, what I am comfortable with.  Because frankly, there are a few things in my life that are cluttering it up, and I have become very comfortable with the mess.  At first I might have known something was out of place, but I have walked by it so many times that I barely notice it anymore.  I want to find a way to be comfortable with being uncomfortable because I know from experience that nothing will change as long as I am feeling comfortable and ok with things the way they are.  Isn’t that true for most everyone? We don’t really work on positive change until we feel the negative effects of something unhealthy… I’d rather not wait until the clutter is out of control and taking over my life to do something about it.  (Still not talking about dishes, here…)

I have, in the past, made a whole bunch of rules for myself… Which is really pretty funny, since I’d be the first person to tell you that I don’t like rules… But I do like lists.  So I list all the things I will or won’t do anymore, and then almost immediately I am breaking my own rules.  (Not talking about big stuff here, just daily stuff.)   Like, “I will never-ever-no-never go to bed with dishes in the sink.” And that’s a great rule.  But then the night comes when it is 10pm, and I am just getting all the kids in bed and finally have a quiet moment to myself, and I think there is no way I’m spending those first quiet moments I’ve had all day doing the dishes.  No. Way.  So I break the rule, because I can. Right? I’m the mom, I can do whatever I want. I’m thinking maybe a list of things-I-need-to-rid-my-life-of would probably have about the same effect.  So I need a different approach.

The cool thing about my walk with God has been, that when He wants me to let go of something, or add something, or change something, He just works on that one area until I am on board with Him.  No pressure… He sticks with me as long as it takes to get the job done, and then we move on to something else.   So I figure this whole restlessness and discomfort I am feeling is just the beginning of Him showing me something… A way to do something differently maybe… A way to do something better.  Or maybe even something new altogether He wants me to do.  Or something He wants me not to do anymore…I don’t know yet.  And that’s ok.  As I was trying to articulate this to my mom (after half a pot of coffee)  She simply said “Kari, you just need to rest.  And wait.”  I think she probably knows a thing or two about that.  (She probably also wanted me to take a breath and let her catch up to my caffeine-induced overflow of words.)

So I am resting.  And waiting.  And ok with being uncomfortable for a change.

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