Monday, November 14, 2011

God in the Mess, Part 1

Right now, I feel like I spend my entire life cleaning up messes.  My daughter spits up some forty to fifty times a day, spewing vomit on her clothes, my clothes, our furniture, the carpet, the hardwood floors, her toys, her car seat, pretty much anything that comes within a few feet of her mouth. 

After months of this, I've gotten used to the perpetual damp patches on my clothes, to the smell of halfway digested milk that lingers everywhere.  I don't even bother to change my clothes anymore unless I am completely soaked.

But now that Ellie's started solid foods, her spit-up messes are not only wet and stinky; they also stain.  I have to inspect each piece of our family's clothing before it goes into and after it comes out of the washer, pre-treating green, orange, and brown stains, making sure they have come out in the wash. 

Sometimes, when I watch her pea and carrot puree make its way back out of her mouth and onto the cute little off-white onesie I just finally got all the stains out of the day before, I want to cry.  Sometimes, I do.

Naptime and nighttime, when Ellie is sleeping soundly in her crib, are pretty much the only times of the day that I am safe from spit-up.  Even then though, there is cleaning to do - toys to be picked up and sanitized, laundry to fold, cloth diapers to wash, a dishwasher to unload, bathrooms to be scrubbed.

The hardest part for me is that it never ends.  Before kids, I could do laundry on the weekend and not have to touch it again until the next week.  I could clean the whole house one day and not have to worry about it for two weeks.  There wasn't much to tidy as CJ and I spent most of our time working and are pretty good at picking up after ourselves as we go.  No longer.  I hate living in a perpetual mess, feeling like I am always losing the battle against dirt and disorder. 

But this is where I live these days, with a burp cloth in hand and Oxy Clean my trusty laundry companion.  I want to believe that God is here too, that somehow there is meaning and purpose in the seemingly never-ending piles of laundry and dishes, in wiping up Ellie's 221st spit-up of the week.  It is hard though, hard to see where the eternal meets the mundane, where there is significance in these tasks that, to be honest, sometimes feel below my pay grade.

Psalm 118:24 says, "This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it."  I don't know how to rejoice in spit-up.  But I want to.  God's been giving me a few glimpses of what that looks like, but I have a long, long way to go.  So I'm going to do what I've always done when I'm in the process of learning something.  I'm going to write my way through.  And I'm going to write about it on the blog, in hopes that as I seek God in the very literal messes in my life, others might find Him in their messes too.

More to come soon...

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