It was a typical early Wednesday morning in our home. I was sitting on the couch with the dog, watching the TODAY show and catching up on emails (a work-from-home perk). Suddenly, I heard some wild commotion coming from the kitchen. My husband, a beautiful and even-tempered man, was not happy. I stood up and headed towards him to see the offense: our typically white kitchen was now mostly green. A very vibrant green.
Two days ago, my husband and I were cooking dinner together and I made several comments about how badly we needed to deep clean the kitchen. We are neat people, but that kitchen does not get an all-encompassing, in the crevices, serious clean very often. It was time.
However, my passion on the matter quickly waned because, well, dinner was ready. Maybe the next time we have company in town we’ll deep clean the kitchen.
So now it is Wednesday morning and my TODAY show bliss was swiftly interrupted by yelling from the newly colored kitchen. My husband’s bright green veggie smoothie was on the ceiling, the cupboards, the walls, the fridge, the microwave, the [insert every other area of the kitchen here]. I laughed. I mean, what else is there to do when your kitchen is dripping with green smoothie? At least it’s whole foods, I joked. My husband SORT OF smiled.
You guys, this is the best part: The green smoothie accident created an unavoidable motivation to DEEP CLEAN THE KITCHEN! Like, immediately! Not next weekend, not before my parents make their next visit, but now. The Lord works in wonderful and mysterious ways.
And that’s just it: Sometimes it takes the biggest mess to get us where we need to be.
It just may be out of the most extreme disorder that we are led to do what we really wanted all along. Rock bottom is certainly not a kitchen covered in green smoothie, but it’s whatever mess our life comes to when we finally say, “Ok, no. I can’t brush this one off. We have some real work to do here.”
These messes happen to all of us. Maybe yours can be hidden better than others, but it’s there. We’ve all got them. The beauty of the most indescribable messes is that they can be the catalyst for real and exciting change. A change even more rousing than a deep clean of the kitchen.
It was one particular “mess” of mine that led me to a therapist’s office in 2011 (a forever favorite decision of mine). One of my favorite parts of her office is a small card on the table by her chair that says, “Always we begin again, again.” Taken from one of St. Benedictine’s rules, her reminder adds a second, “again.” We can begin again, again—and again. There is no limit to the “agains.” You can begin again as many times as you need—and we all need at least a few.
My kitchen does not need one deep clean and then it’s all said and done. (UNFORTUNATELY, right?) It will need to be cleaned and then deep cleaned and then cleaned again . . . FOR THE REST OF MY DAYS.
Hey—us, too. We need that, too. We need a refresh, a new beginning, a time to really clean up and move on from our messes—and we need it again, again. I wish I didn’t have to keep cleaning my kitchen almost as much as I wish I didn’t have to keep cleaning up my mistakes, my doubt, my fear, my anxiety, etc. This, however, is how it goes. The messes are terrible and how in the WORLD will we ever heal from this or get the green smoothie off of that? But we can. We do. It happens. The kitchen gets clean and our own missteps and pain can be healed.
I’ve experienced it in in my own life and in my own kitchen. The messes—the accidents, the mistakes, the bad decisions—they happen. You can choose to stay in the mess just as we could have chosen to leave green smoothie all over our walls and ceilings. We could keep people out of our home, disallowing anyone to see the terrible state of our kitchen; but we’ll be living in it. We’ll know it’s there, probably attracting some bugs as it seeps into the wall’s paint. Either we live the rest of our days in this smoothie-infested mess, or we decide enough is enough; the mess is terrible and ugly, but we don’t have to live in it.
Seeing the mess is an invitation to clean it up. The cleanup will not occur without loss (oh, the towels and old t-shirts that were unsalvageable after the green smoothie wreckage!). There may be people, behaviors, or places that must be left behind because of how they contribute to or encourage the mess making. This is all worthwhile. What is gained in your health and personal improvement far outweighs the losses. Even still, it can be difficult. We might need to call in some help and take it slow—day by day, at the most—but we start somewhere.
Because always we can begin again, again.