Mess Management

It seems to me that much in life is a lot like potty training. Then again perhaps, I am a bit to introspective at times. Bear with me though.

Of my six children three are girls and three are boys. My first two daughters were loving sweet healthy singlets. The last four came three boys and one girl all at once, all similarly sweet, loving and healthy. My oldest daughter was potty trained just after her second birthday. My next daughter was potty trained by her second birthday in no small part thanks to her older sister. My third daughter was potty trained also not long after her second birthday. My three sons, well they are a different story altogether. Yes boys are different, quads are different and each one of the six is very much different and truly individual but, all of them must be potty trained. It is required. I did mention our having Quads before?

I find myself sometimes wishing for a supernatural impartation of wisdom to my children, especially but not exclusively to my three sons. In the area of potty mastery if they could just rise above their tender years to the place where we could reason together about hygiene, laundry, time management and odor I like to think it would just click into position for them. However, who wants to wish their lives away. I wouldn’t trade anything with anyone for the place and time I’ve been given, potty training and all. In time at their realization of the need without fear or threat but with firm encouragement and affirmation I know that they will get this. In fact we’re very close.

If you cook you dirty dishes. If you build you compile scrap. If you paint you make dribbles. It’s just a fact that people make messes. Young people, old people all people; you can’t accomplish much without making a little mess. The catch is learning to anticipate, minimize and manage our mess.

Messes happen and don’t just go away. We must decide if we want to leave the mess, carry it with us or figure out how we’re going to clean it up. One of the first hurdles is learning to identify a mess. Until we reach the realization that some thing on us, around or because of us is a mess it will seem hidden and we will seem oblivious. Potty training is about realizing a particular activity as being messy and determining to take care of this mess and not waiting or relying on someone else to do it for you. If you do it to for the approval of someone else, at some point you’ll be angry or disappointed with them. You may be tempted to use not managing your mess to get back at them. If you do it out of fear of dire punishment, the first time the fear feels removed you might well regress to prove your freedom and your control of the mess making process. Or if you do it out of peer pressure, approval or keeping-up-itise you may never find any satisfaction in your accomplishment or growth.

If we are seeking God and seeking to progress in Him, grow spiritual fruit, experience sanctification, leave behind our childish ways. We must also learn to anticipate minimize and manage the physical, emotional, relational and spiritual messes we will encounter, are currently carrying or will sometimes create. Babies are cute. But the infant stage is very time consuming and messy. We can’t be Christian babes all our lives. We can’t expect our pastors, priests, elders or kindly mentors to spoon feed us and keep us clean forever and they should not expect us to let them. We must embrace, hear and receive from these people what God puts in our lives about Faith, Hope and Love and how being outside of these makes a mess in our lives. We must not make the mistake of relying on them to always be the same and to be right there whenever we cry out or make the mistake of mistaking them for God Himself. People change, grow and often go. Make mistakes, have bad days and just plain make messes. We must anticipate and leave room for their humanity and ours or when we see it rear up we may be let down, unmerciful and make a mess. They can be our spiritual parents if we will be humble enough to let them. If they do their job right we will learn to identify, anticipate, minimize and manage our messes by walking in Faith, Hope and Love. Then go on to teach and clean up others.

We all learn the same required things differently at different rates for sometimes different reasons. Remember my three sons. How about Fred Mac Murray? Oh well I digress. My boys are a bit more labor intensive at this stage but that’s not a shame on them or guilt on me. The effort made and patience shown may make the victory sweeter and the lesson more long lasting for them. For me when potty training is said and done I’m afraid it will be a bitter-sweet victory. In reality it is just another layer of letting go so they can grow. A conquered stage where I am no longer needed for direction.

Try remembering this as you are pointing out the cheerios bobbing in the bowl it might grant you a bit more patience with the process. In many ways it can be an insight into The Fathers loving heart towards us and appreciation for those who are praying, working and waiting for us to grow a bit. Or help us to grant more Grace to those with whom God may have us walking with that are taking more time than most to master their messes.

By Mike Poff

Prayer and Ponderance

Find a quiet moment, just you no TV, Radio, wild running children, friends, spouses or co-workers. Read over these verses and take in a bit of God’s peace. Be still, be thankful and ask God to expand your hearts’ capacity for peace, patience, love and understanding. Even in the mess of this day know He will hear you and meet your need.

1st Corinthians 13:11-13

Matthew 5:22-25

Micah 6: 8

Jot down anything you feel the Spirit of the Lord is saying to you today.

Jot down anything He has done for you today.

Know He Loves You!

Thank Him and prepare to rejoin the wild running children, friends, spouses or co-workers and share.


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