Lighten up!

Lighten up. I have heard others tell me this in the past, normally in a condemning way – referring to an attitude check. For the sake of this blog though I am going to use it in the non-condemning way; to lighten up and enjoy life.

I am very particular and choosy with certain activities my boys do. If it might potentially ruin or destroy anything I am very reluctant. In fact, I might not even allow it. You may find this shocking or ridiculous, but I honestly struggle with it. I don’t like messes and I especially don’t like things being broken or destroyed. You just told me to lighten up, didn’t you? *smile*

Well, I ruined some things this past week! And it was me, not even the boys.

I was dying my hair and didn’t realize until later that night that I had dropped some dye on our semi-new bathroom rug. If you have ever dyed your hair then you know hair dye is permanent! There is no soak-it-and-hope-it-comes-out. Now there is a permanent dark purple stain on my pale gray rug!

Later the same day, I was making a gift for a friend. After I glued the item I laid it on the dining room table. A half hour later I picked it up. I thought the glue had dried before I laid it down – well, it didn’t – so when I lifted it up it peeled a layer of wood stain off our new, and perfect table!

And it is almost a daily occurrence now that the boys bring me a bent or broken toy or a ripped book. Some claim it’s a “boy thing.” I agree to a certain point, but I still believe it’s necessary to teach them to respect their toys, or belongings. It is a daily reminder for my boys.

I strive to keep my belongings clean and neat, and new if they started out that way. I was raised this way – to take special care of my belongings. It will last longer is my rationality. It is extremely tough for me not to be disappointed in my failure to maintain this rationality; and when my boys fail to meet my expectations as well.

Here comes the lighten up part.

I need to stop being so careful, particular, cautious, and even protective over my possessions. Protective; yes, actually that is a great description. I believe I take too much care of my possessions. I am one of those women who save certain dishes for special occasions. Those occasions rarely, if ever, come. I keep certain toys out of the boys’ reach and only get them out every so often. One reason is so they don’t tire of the same toys but also because of the price tag. It cost money and I don’t want them to get broken. I was reluctant to offer the boys cups that weren’t spill proof because they could spill on my carpet. I do not often get out play-doh or the like because I am afraid it could get smashed in the carpet. Hardly ever do they use markers because they’re messy and they have a tendency to write on things not intended to be decorated with marker drawings. And boys…bathrooms. *sigh* Don’t even get me started on that! We have a sand box in our back yard, but all too often I hear myself tell them they aren’t allowed in it. Though, in my defense, I don’t always have time to scrub the sand from each head before entering the house. Yes scrub, because apparently they love to dump buckets of sand on their sweaty heads. And sand sticks to moisture.

And here comes my objectiveness. If I am always keeping them from messes, when do they have fun? If I am always protecting and never using, what’s the point? Where is the enjoyment? The toys I only get out once in a while will soon be outgrown. The items I protect will get worn overtime regardless; weren’t they purchased to be used? Perhaps the waste of money is just as likely when spent on things that you rarely use as when using the item hard and “getting your money’s worth out of it”.

I am certainly not advocating the careless use of anything – because we should take care of them – but instead accept that things will happen. Accidents will happen, just like my incidents this past week! Things will get worn and they should get used. Remember things are just that – things! They are meant to be enjoyed, not viewed from a tall shelf or a dark closet. So lighten up and enjoy what God’s given!

And so I conclude with a deeper Biblical objectiveness.

Matthew 6:19-21

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Ultimately there is no eternal value in maintaining nice and clean possessions. There is no eternal value in unbroken and undestroyed toys. These will remain on the earth, if they even last through our lifetime. Their memory will grow distant. Rather the eternal value is the time I put into using them with my kids; the principles I impart on them as I come alongside them in play or other activities. The value isn’t in those unwrapped, glistening, unmarked dishes but in the fellowship as we eat the meal on those precious plates. No one else really cares, not even my kids, if I have smashed play-doh in my carpet or gritty floors from the sandbox. They appreciate the effort and time invested in them. And someday they may even understand the sacrifices made on their behalf. They will remember the life lessons and the Biblical foundation on which our family stands. They see the godly example set by us. And they will understand that possessions are just things, with no eternal value. But the genuine time spent with them and God’s love shown to them is what is most important. That is what lasts into eternity.

Colossians 3:2

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

And so I say again, lighten up and enjoy what God’s given!

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