The dishwasher had malfunctioned, flooding our house all night as we slept. We didn’t know until one of our sleepy-eyed children came into our bedroom early in the morning and said, “Mom and Dad! It’s raining in the basement!”
The room that was hardest hit was the storage room where we’d recently carefully stacked and dated our pride and joy, a two-year supply of food. In a mad dash to save anything we could, every member of our family hauled each bucket and box out into the back yard to dry out. It took hours.
Just when we finished, we heard a clap of thunder, looked up, and felt several drops splash in our eyes. Then the heavens were opened and the few drops immediately became a downpour. We regrouped and quickly hauled our soggy mess into the garage.
When we finally got every box and bucket into the garage, my son came running to me in tears, informing me his pet rabbit was dead. After finally getting the children off to school, my daughter called from campus saying she couldn’t remember where she’d parked the car at BYU. Then my other first-grader had an accident that required a change of clothing. You get the picture.
“I can’t handle any more,” I said to my husband.
“You don’t have to handle it,” my husband replied. “There’s no rule book somewhere that says you have to go through life handling everything. Just muddle, Jan. I’ve been muddling for years and no one can tell the difference.”
Muddle, I thought. I think I can muddle.
Now every time I’m feeling overwhelmed, I remember my husband’s timely advice. Frankly, I’ve been muddling ever since and so far no one can tell the difference, just like he promised.
I remember a day when I walked into the kitchen to find my young son surrounded by the large white buckets where I stored our flour, sugar, and pasta. He was busy scooping— sugar into the flour—rice into the sugar—pasta into the rice. The whole kitchen looked like a white billowing cloud except for my son’s innocent grin and two large blue eyes staring up at me. “Look, Mom. I’m the bread maker!” my young son said as he looked up at me.
Suddenly it dawned on me that whenever I made bread I pulled out all the white buckets and started scooping. He was trying to be like me.
My feelings of frustration melted into love. I was so proud of him for trying. As we got busy cleaning the kitchen, I realized God loves us like that. No matter how big the mess or mistake we’ve made, God helps us clean it up. That is the essence of muddling.
Muddling is not mediocrity. Muddling allows us to stop keeping up appearances or worrying that we’ll never measure up. Muddling is accepting our humanness and inadequacies. Muddling is realizing there are some messes only our Father in Heaven can clean up. And muddling is seeing our worth through God’s eyes and never giving up hope that things will work out.