"Wisdom Cries Out"

"Wisdom Cries Out"

Don't Be Afraid of the Mess

“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” (Proverbs 14.4)

We often "roll up our sleeves" before a project because doing work can get messy.  If you want to remodel your kitchen, you have to demo first. There is no workaround to the mess—it’s just part of the process. This proverb is not an excuse for negligence but motivation to invest in what needs to be done. 

In a recent remodel of our laundry room, I drilled a hole into a water pipe while hanging cabinets on the wall. The room flooded and I spent the whole day repairing the pipe and the wall. In the moment, I felt like my day was wasted. But in retrospect I learned more that day than I had when everything was going as expected. 

Sooner or later we learn that progress is not made without getting a little messy. This is not only true for hands-on projects but also for character development. Discipline requires effort and effort will often be frustrated with a learning curve. We inevitably encounter new challenges that force us to either give up or get better. 

The fear of appearing unkempt sometimes hinders our efforts. But remember: it is easy to look neat when you haven’t done any work. Having oxen will require cleanup and maintenance, but it means the farmer will eat in the future. 

Someone has said, "We learn the most when things are a mess because it engages the more creative parts of our brain and pushes us beyond what is comfortable." This proverb is not making concessions for being a slob, but is pleading for us to accept upheaval as the price for growth.  Don’t be afraid to “roll up your sleeves” and get messy. 

“You get what you work for, not what you wish for.” -Howard A. Tullman