The couch in my living room is pushed against the wall, partially blocking the walkway. There are three hockey sticks leaning against the wall. When people walk into my living room (which is the first room you enter when you walk in our front door), they look at me with a question in their eyes. The ones who have been in our home before voice that question out loud: “Why is your couch blocking the walkway?”
The answer to that question is this: We’re living here. You see, my younger daughter has invented a new game with a balloon ball and hockey sticks, and the living room is where we play. This winter has been long and cold. The days outside have been few and far between, so the living room — the least-used room in the house — has been turned into an area to play hockey.
At first, the rearranged furniture, the blocked walkway and the hockey sticks in the house bothered me. I worried something would get broken. I was concerned about the furniture being out of place. But then I realized this simple fact: It’s not forever. Someday in a future that is closer than I would like to think, there will be no hockey games in my living room. There will be no little girl voices coming from the bedrooms. My days with kids at home will come to an end.
Too often, I spend my time focused on the things that don’t matter. Does the mirror have fingerprints on it? Is my house perfectly arranged? What will people think when they come over? I can get so focused on the perfect face I want my family and my home to present to others that I miss the opportunities to play with my kids. I miss the memories that we can create if we simply shove aside the furniture and bring out the hockey sticks. I miss teachable moments that come from throwing away the schedule for the day and focusing on my kids.
God didn’t call us to be parents to live our lives checking off a to-do list so that other people look at us and think we have it all together. He called us to be parents so we could get dirty in the trenches of parenthood — and that may be at the expense of a perfect house, perfectly attired children, and a checked-off to-do list. He called us to teach our kids to follow Him. He called us to teach them to love Him.
Those hockey games in the disordered living room are teaching tools for fair play, treating others well even in competition, and family bonding. Those things wouldn’t happen in a perfectly arranged living room.
As parents, there are times when we have to embrace the messy disorder of life to allow our kids room to grow, to give our families a chance to bond, and to create teachable moments. There are days when the couch needs to block the hallway and the rules about playing ball in the house need to fall to the wayside.
Because all too soon the day will come when you’ll no longer have any need to shove the furniture aside to make room for the kids. If you’re a parent, the perfectly ordered house can wait. Today, your kids need you to rearrange the furniture to make room for them.