Life Is Short, So Embrace the Mess

There have been a number of times I’ve been disappointed with the Academy Awards. One of the biggest was when The LEGO Movie wasn’t even nominated for Best Animated Feature Film. It was brilliant, but it was the ending that hit me with an important lesson. Spoiler alert: I’m going to talk about the ending. So if you have not seen it, feel free to skip to the next paragraph. If you are continuing, I am assuming you have seen it or don’t care about the ending being spoiled. The ending reveals that the story is about a father and son. The father builds a huge LEGO city with order and coordination and forbids his son to play with it. When the son does play with it, he mixes up the perfect creation, leaving the father horrified. I can relate on many levels.

When my wife and I got married, one of the first things we did was create a home. We created a relaxing sanctuary of beauty and comfort. Then we had kids whom we love in a way that can’t be measured. But those kids have wrecked that beautiful place. In fact, they wreck it daily. It’s like the book of Genesis. No one destroys a house like my kids. In three minutes, they will find a way to get every toy in the house on the floor. It’s an amazing skill. If I even think about giving them food or a drink, it will end up on their clothes or mine. As for me, I love cleanliness while clutter makes my skin crawl. However, I have realized a couple of things lately that have caused me to embrace the mess. Here are 3 reasons why you should too.

1. Life is short.

One of my favorite shows was Parenthood. In a great scene, a dad (Crosby) is talking to his father (Zeek) about all of the stresses and chaos of having young kids. Zeek says, “It all goes by so fast. You’ve got to figure out a way to enjoy it.” We can spend all our time looking to the future when things will finally be better, easier, and more controllable. I have to admit I do that a lot, and I miss out on the wonder of today.

2. Our window of influence is very short.

We probably have around 20 years or even less of nurturing opportunity with our kids before they launch. If our life expectancy is 80, that means we only have 25% of our life to really be with our children before they venture out. What we do with that 25% will impact generations to come. I once heard Jeff Foxworthy say, “The days can drag, but the months and years fly by.” We need to make the most of each day.

3. The adventure will come to an end.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” This season will end. Someday, the mess will be gone, and when it is, I think I’ll miss it. My kids are unpredictable and that can have me on edge, but it also makes life exciting. The range and depth of emotions they awaken in me are thrilling. Every day is an adventure with them, and I need to approach it that way.

Sound off: How do you make the most of your time with your kids?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you want to play?”