Blog | Lindsey Smallwood

Being Present

A Little Too Tidy

Lindsey Smallwood

My toddler is tidy. 

I know, it's weird.

Most of the tiny humans I know are like little Tazmanian devils leaving a whirl of blocks and balls in their wake.

But Bobby likes his blocks "cweaned up" and his balls put away. He asks to have his hands wiped at meals. He runs to the kitchen and gets towels if I spill my drink.

As an extension of this cleanliness craze, he loves to put things in the garbage can, which is awesome when it's a dirty diaper or a used napkin. Less awesome when it's a dropped library card or a misplaced turquoise ring, both of which had to be rescued from my kitchen trash recently. 

We laughed when, after an Easter egg hunt, Bobby opened his eggs, removed the candy and proceeded to immediately throw the empty eggs away. He didn't see the potential to use the brightly colored plastic shells as stacking cups, bath toys or rock containers. He just took what was familiar to him - the candy - and moved on.

Sometimes, we're all like this.

We try to move quickly through hard times because we don't want to be dirtied by heartache or doubt or grief. We want to get to the good stuff, the familiar place.

But we can miss out on life's lessons because we think it's easier not to dwell on the mess.

I'm totally guilty of this. Like in hard conversation with a friend. Or bad news from the doctor. Or an argument with my husband that leads to both us walking away, quiet and hurt. 

In those moments, when I'd rather flip on the TV or scroll through my phone, soothing myself through distraction, there's instead an opportunity. 

Messes can be opportunities. Opportunities to start fresh, to put pieces back together in new ways, to reevaluate what matters. To say "Let's start over" or "We're in this together". To allow the still small voice within us to teach and comfort and guide.

We crave what's familiar. We want life to be orderly and predictable. But messes happen. And when they do, we can't always go back to the way things were before. But we can trust that if we listen and watch and wait, there is beauty to be found, to be made in our chaos.

So put the dustpan down and sit awhile. You might just learn something.

How's it looking, friends? Are you facing a messy situation?

Here's to learning together as we live it out.