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When the Mess Comes First

For the first time since April, cool weather descended on North Mississippi last week. Which means all our kids are either wearing pants an inch too short because we didn’t realize how much our kids grew over the summer or they are wearing pants an inch too long to account for some “growing room” this winter. Transplanting from shorts into pants means it’s officially time to weed through the kids’ closets, handing down the outgrown clothes and making room for the larger sizes.

Cleaning out closets equates to torture for me. In fact, when we moved two years ago I confessed to my husband just looking at the toys and clothes to sort and throw away or give away increased my anxiety a hundred percent. I freeze up staring at the dress I should have tossed last year but couldn’t because it wasn’t really that short. The stuffed animal my pre-teen carried for months as a toddler is a hard one to discard although he doesn’t even remember its name anymore.

I’m a little attached to things, to the past they represent and to the fear I might wish I had held on to them just one minute longer. Never mind that I have never regretted donating, passing down or throwing out any of my kids’ toys or clothes. When I do finally get up the nerve to sort through the junk, my kids are right behind me begging me not to throw away that McDonald’s toy they forgot they loved three years ago.

Have you ever noticed how cleaning out a closet makes a bigger mess than letting it pile up does? A give away pile, a sell pile, a throwaway pile, a keep pile. Piles and piles and piles litter the floor like sandcastles on a beach in June.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

But the straight rows of hanging clothes, the floors cleaned of excess toys and the ability to finally find the shoes that fit instead of the flip-flips she outgrew last summer makes the whole process worth it.

I’ve been praying over a situation in one of my kids’ lives and I keep coming back to this scripture: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; Proverbs 3:5.

In my heart, I can hear God encouraging me to keep up my praying but to realize sometimes He has to make a mess to get a situation where it needs to be. He has a plan for this kid’s life that I can not see or imagine and if I will just stop pulling out the random things from His trash bag I think are important, I might see what He has in mind.

God convicted me this morning as I prayed over my response to this situation. I keep expecting certain things to happen, but they aren’t. In fact, some parts feel like they are getting worse instead of better. But better and worse conform to my understanding and my expectations. I like the control of being in charge of my kids’ lives, but as they grow my control diminishes and I realize how little I held in the first place. And I have to trust. Trust God truly loves my children more than I love them. Trust that He has plans for their lives. Trust that we’ll find our way better once the mess is sorted through.

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