It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m here sitting quietly in my house. Abi, my wife, is away for the week speaking at events and I’m enjoying some leisure time reading a book.
With Abi gone, the house is clutter free. Mind you, she’s a self-proclaimed hurricane. And to give her credit she’s light years beyond where she was when we got married. 🙂
I used to joke that if you wanted to find where Abi was, after she got home from being away, you could simply follow the trail of clothes and items that she would slowly shed as she made her way through the door to her destination. I, on the other hand, am like a silent ninja. As I enter the home I put away everything from the day in its rightful place, leaving the home looking like no one was there.
On this Sunday, as I sit here in my clutter-free space, I’m in a zen-like state, lacking only the companionship of the one I love. Abi jokingly, with a hint of seriousness, always asks,
“Does it feel good to have me out of the space and to have everything in order?”
I jokingly, with a hint of seriousness, always answer,
“Boy does it!”
In relationship with Abi, I am always out of control with the house. Like all relationships we always find ourselves, in one aspect or another, being out of control. In some instances we fight aggressively to gain control. We’ll go to all kinds of lengths to get it, even if it means breaking the spirit of those we love.
Control, as you may know, is an illusion.
(This is, of course, something parents are well versed in. From the day a child is born, they are living on that little bundle of joy’s schedule, not their own.)
When it comes down to it, there are really only two solutions to continue living a life of (perceived) control.
One, we avoid relationships altogether, which leaves us isolated and alone.
And two, we dominate the ones we love in such a manner that the essence of who they are is extinguished as we chip away at them, breaking their spirits, until they are nothing more than a replica of us. This also leaves us feeling isolated and alone, as we are left with nothing more than a mirror reflection of ourselves. This kind of relationship is uninspired and riddled with boredom.
In either solution, we miss the point altogether.
What really gives us life in relationship are all the differences between us and those we love.
These differences are gifts and surprises. They are meant to expand the way we see life. They are there to challenge our paradigm and expand our knowledge of love. They teach us not only to accept others, but also to accept ourselves.
Abi has taught me how to be “messy.” I’ve learned how to embrace the “messiness” of who I am as a person because of her wildness and differences. It has inspired me and caused me to love myself and accept myself in ways I never dreamed of.
Perfectionism is overrated and suffocating.
It steals our creative license to take risks and learn beautiful life lessons. This leaves us trapped in mundane and mediocre lives, never really living. In our fear that demands that we control, we create limitations that steal the wonderment of a life fully lived, void of the love that has the potential to heal the most broken places within.
So as I sit here today writing out my thoughts, I’m left with a deep gratitude for Abi’s clutter. With every piece of clothing on the floor, I’m reminded that I’ve chosen a life of being out of control. This choice has created an on-ramp to an exchange of love between my beloved Abi and myself that far exceeds the pleasure of the clutter-free mausoleum that my life would be without her.
Perhaps you too can take an inventory of your life and ask yourself today,
“Where has a need for control stolen the joy of experiencing a life fully lived?” and “Where has a need for control extinguished the fire inside of those around me that was meant to liberate and inspire me?”
You might be surprised at how much joy, freedom, and connection you feel when you’re not burdened with the weight of trying to control the uncontrollable.
— Justin Stumvoll