Cleaning up Messes, Parsonage Style

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Throughout the glorious years of our marriage, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and Yours Truly has had few disagreements. I suppose I could count them all on my one hand, but I am not sure if it is my right hand or my left hand so I will just leave it at that.

I hear, of course, of many couples who do nothing but bicker and fight from morning till night. I have always wondered what the purpose of all that was and what it ever accomplished. I think there is a better way to live together.

There are several phrases I have memorized and used throughout the years of our marriage that has kept me in good standing.

“Yes, dear.” “You’re right, dear.” “I’ll do it right away, dear.”

I have found that if I include the word “dear,” with all of my responses it fares better for me.

Of course, I am the kind of person that does not have to be right all the time, which makes me the perfect husband. Admitting you are wrong, even if you do not think you are, is really not the end of the world. In fact, it may be the beginning of a bright new world.

I said “few disagreements,” and I need to explain what I meant by that.

The major disagreements that my wife and I have had throughout the years can be boiled down into one phrase, “It’s a mess.” Usually, actually all the time this phrase is being used, it is coming from the lips of my wife.

Our disagreement is in the definition of “mess.” She has one definition and I have another definition, and the twain shall never meet. Mark my words on that.

If you would come into our home, you will discover that every room in the house is well organized and very neat. Well, not every room. The one room that does not come up to that criterion is the room in which I occupy. It is my space. My well-organized wife will walk by my room, pause, look in and say, “It’s a mess.”

It took me a long time to realize what she was talking about. Eventually, I got to the point where I understood that what she was referring to was “my space.” Unfortunately, we did not share the same vision of my space. I am of the mindset that if I am working I need to have organized messes all around me.

I have tried explaining to my wife that I am a messologist. I had to explain to her that a messologist is someone who specializes in organizing intentional messes. I am not sure I have convinced her yet of this.

I really think that one person’s mess is another person’s workspace. I cannot really work efficiently unless there are intentional messes around me, protecting me, giving me the incentive I need to pursue the job at hand. My basic philosophy is simply this, if I cannot find what I need when I need it, I probably do not really need it. It has worked for me most marvelously.

The real trick of a messologist is knowing where to find what you need when you need it.

My wife can walk into my space and look around and be utterly confused by what she calls “a mess.” Of course, it looks like a mess to her. It is not her mess! If it was her mess she would understand it and be comforted by it.

My wife is of the idea that organization has to do with numerical or alphabetical order. Now that works for some people, I suppose. But, as I keep telling her, that is not the only circus in town! I cannot tell how many times something new has developed in my thinking while I was searching for something I could not really find. That is the genius of a messologist.

Some people, like my wife, like to go from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4; or, A to B to C to D all the way to Z. To a normal person, and I am guessing my wife is normal, that makes a lot of sense. But to a messologist, that kind of thinking is rather confusing.

What I want to know is, what do you do when you come to the end of the alphabet? Where do you go from there? Then, it is rather important that you have the alphabet in alphabetical order. If I would ever try to do that I would end up being so confused, they would have to admit me in some rehab facility to clean my mind out.

So, the thing that makes our marriage so blissful is that we have an agreement and that she does things her way and I do things my way. This has been the recipe for blissfulness in our marriage. I do not make her do it my way and she cannot make me do it her way. We both have brains, but they tick after a different tock.

I then thought of a verse of Scripture that rather fit my situation. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12).

My way has to be in complete harmony with His way or my life will be completely destroyed.

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About James Snyder

The Reverend James L. Snyder is an award winning author whose writings have appeared in more than eighty periodicals including GUIDEPOSTS. In Pursuit of God: The Life of A. W. Tozer, Snyder’s first book, won the Reader’s Choice Award in 1992 by Christianity Today. Snyder has authored and edited 22 books altogether. He has recently signed a six-book contract with Regal Books based on the preaching ministry of Dr. A. W. Tozer. His weekly humor column, "Out To Pastor," is syndicated to more than 100 weekly newspapers. Through thirty-35 years of ministry, he and his wife Martha have been involved in three church-planting projects prior to their current ministry at the Family of God Fellowship in Ocala, Florida. The Snyders have three children and nine grandchildren.
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