As much as we would like life to be clean, straightforward, and hassle-free, this is not how things work. Cultivating a good life requires us to deal with a lot of mess.
Without oxen a stable stays clean,
But you need a strong ox for a large harvest
The wisdom here is twofold.
- Strength is needed to produce an abundant life, and
- This strength comes with a cost – it will be messy.
I believe God is trying to give us a solid interpretation of life’s hassles.
We have not blown it just because our life is messy. In fact, the messiness might be evidence that we are living a good life – using our strength to produce a rich harvest of goodness.
It is messy to do work that matters. You may work unseen and underpaid for years. It may even be lonely, as few others seem to understand your passion and drive. Certainly, it would be easier to work simply for a paycheck, but such dry and sterile work would rob our soul of its vitality.
Relationships are messy. It takes effort to consider someone else’s point of view and emotions. Disappointments, letdowns, and heartbreaks come with the territory of every relationship. To be sure, things would be simpler without all the effort required for relationships to work, but we would miss the rich joys of living in community and building each other up.
Our sexuality is also messy. Desires are unpredictable and our fantasies remain mysterious. Dark and “dirty” impulses continue to surprise and disturb us despite all our efforts to clean them up and make them more presentable. It is definitely “cleaner” to repress our sexuality, but this self-imposed impotence limits our creativity, passion, and generosity both in and outside of the bedroom.
Yes, life is messy, but it is worth it.
Don’t let the messiness of life hold you back from offering your strength.
Your strength is needed to bring more life and goodness into the world. And some messiness is just part of the deal.