Love Makes the Best of the Mess
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet.4:8)
Last week, while my husband was at work, I left our dog out in the yard longer than I should have. Long enough to make a mess. You know how it is-- when dogs (and people) get bored, they look for ways to entertain themselves, and end up making a mess of things.
In this case, we had three bags of unused mulch against our back wall outside, and for months, Trooper (our dog) had ignored them. So we thought they were safe and impenetrable. Until I found out otherwise. After realizing how much time had passed, I jumped up to check on him…
…and found him happily playing in a patch of bright red mulch he’d gotten into and spread out all over the yard-- bits of supposedly-strong plastic bags strewn about in the midst of it! New scientific discovery—thick-plastic mulch bags cannot withstand the gravitational force of an 11-month-old Retriever’s sharp teeth.
Having discovered this the hard way, I needed to do something about the mess. But it had just started raining, so I called Trooper, who happily bounded up to the door and came in, as if to say “Look at my gardening work, ‘mom’!”
Knowing the mess was, in a way, my fault as much as his, helped me to not be angry at Trooper. Disappointed, yes, but not holding it against him.
In fact, I felt a bit worried my husband might be angry at me for allowing it to happen, once he got home and beheld the big mess in the yard! When Tom (my husband) came home, I carefully explained what had happened and apologized for my lack of vigilant attention. And he didn’t get angry with me! Or Trooper! A bit disappointed, but not holding it against us.
Together we planned how to make the best of it. We’d pick up the plastic-bag bits and clear out the “mine-field”, thus restoring safety and cleanness to the yard. Then, when it got dry enough, we’d redistribute the mulch—thanking Trooper for opening the bags and starting the gardening project for us! One place would definitely be for filling up a large hole that needed filling. Other places would be for covering areas that needed covering to keep things from getting too muddy. And so on.
Love thinks and acts that way. It makes the best of our messes! Instead of holding them against us, especially when they affect the ones who love us, love says, “how can we make this into something good?” It puts the relationship above the offense. Regardless of whether the offender knows they did wrong, apologizes, or not! Because real love eliminates any conditions on extending itself toward others.
Real love doesn’t withhold good, even in the face of evil (intentional or not). It seeks the highest good for others, finds it, and does what it can to make it happen. Rom. 12:17, 21 exhorts us, “Don’t repay evil for evil… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Love gives us that power to overcome evil—by turning the bad stuff into something good! Then everyone wins, including the one who made the mess to begin with! That’s exactly what the Lord has done and keeps doing for us. Making the best of the messes we make, instead of holding them against us. So we shouldn’t wallow in them and hold them against ourselves either. He has assured us that nothing can separate us from His love (Rom. 8:38-39)
The mulch is covering what it needs to, our yard is clean, and Trooper still feels free to be his soft, friendly, rambunctious, big-puppy self. Yeah, he’ll probably get into more stuff he shouldn’t and make more messes for me to clean up.
Just like I do, causing the Lord and others disappointment and perhaps pain. If we’re thinking realistically, those others and myself will all forgive each other, knowing we make messes too.
And we’ll do what we can to make the best of the mess. Out of love.