Love is Cleaning up the Mess
Children are experts in destruction.
Whatever the liquid is, they will spill it. No matter how child-proof the container is, they will open it. No matter where you try to hide the toy, they will find it and get it out and play with it. Especially the ones that makes noises. No matter how many napkins you place by them, they will spill smear food all over their face and clothes and the floor.
They never even notice all the stuff they leave behind.
A Time to Clean
As responsible parents we follow behind and clean the mess up.
We wipe away what was spilled. We pick up the toys. We vacuum the carpets and wipe down the walls. We even clean up the poop that was somehow smeared all over the toilet seat.
We clean up their mess because we love them.
Sometimes we try to prevent the mess. We make new rules. We develop new systems. We even get rid of the things that seem to be the source.
But they still manage. The messes still come. There is always something to clean up. No matter how hard we try, they still find a way to make the mess.
Even then, we keep cleaning it up. Because we love them.
The Messes Keep Coming
As adults, we keep making messes. Instead of getting food on our face, we ruin our relationships. Instead of making too much noise with our toys, we make the wrong kind of noise with our lives. Instead of tripping and spilling Cheerios across the floor, we make a mess out of our finances.
When we stumble upon a mess that someone else has made, we tend to avoid it. Or blame the person we feel is responsible. If nothing else we prove it wasn’t our fault. Someone else made it. Someone else should clean it up.
Sometimes we insist on the importance of teaching responsibility. If we clean up someone else’s mess, how will they ever learn? They made the mess, they can sit in it.
Sometimes we try to prevent the mess by making new rules and regulations and guidelines. The world is full of mess-prevention experts. People who know exactly what should have been done. People who know where things went wrong. People who know who to point the finger at.
Despite our efforts to legislate good behavior, the messes will still happen.
Love is Cleaning Up the Mess
Instead of seeing the mess as something to avoid, or finding the right person to blame, or to focus only on prevention, what if we saw someone else’s mess as an opportunity to show what love is?
It is one thing to know who made the mess, it is another to help them clean it up.
It is one thing to make good choices for yourself, it is another to help others with their bad ones.
It is one thing to not fall down, it is another to help somebody else stand back up.
Love is being willing to get down on your hands and knees and clean up the mess.