“My poor lawn,” my husband whimpered. Our daughters dug merrily in the sandbox, tossing heaps of grit overboard onto the grass. Or, what used to be grass. Now it’s more like a miniature shoreline in the middle of our back yard.
“They’re having fun,” I said. “A happy childhood is more important than an immaculate lawn.”
Since building our oh-my-goodness-the-girls-are-going-to-love-it play set last summer, we’ve witnessed a gradual deterioration of the once-lush grass surrounding this monstrosity. There’s a bare dirt patch beneath the swing—which my husband has repeatedly and futilely attempted to re-seed—and the whole 20-foot by 15-foot structure creates enough shade to prohibit one entire corner of our property from ever again catching a glimpse of summer sun. All of this causes recurring pangs of grief for my husband, who, like many good men, takes a certain degree of manly pride in his landscaping.
I can relate, of course. As much as I encourage my husband to value happy kids over green grass, I often feel the same way about my carpets. They didn’t always harbor chronic juice stains and blotches of mummified Play-Doh.
My sofa arrangement used to be fashionable, not functional. Our interior décor was once inspired by Pier One rather than the Target toy department. When did I trade my glass-top coffee table for an indoor trampoline? The answer is simple—when I realized my home is made of family, not furniture.
“We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him,” (1 John 4:16, NASB).
I like that word, “abides.” To “abide in God” paints a picture of dwelling in God, making God my house, my sanctuary. And if God is where I live, and love is where I reside, then all the rest is incidental.
The lawn, the furniture, the paint on the walls—these are not the focus of a loving home, they’re just the backdrop. I am writing my storyline every day, choosing love as the starring role. The tufts of dead grass in our back yard simply make us more of a reality show than a polished Hollywood drama.
We are living through a season—the season of raising young children. In a few short years, our kids will be more interested in their iPods than in the toy kitchen inhabiting a quarter of our living room. Toys will shrink and space will expand again.
I’ll have the rest of my life to decorate my home. I have only these fleeting years to decorate my children’s memories—with time spent poring over coloring books strewn across the floor, playing hide and seek through a house stacked with library books and building blocks, bumping volleyballs in the living room and laughing when a foul thwacks the dinner table . . . because there hasn’t been a breakable centerpiece planted there for at least four years.
I know there will come a day when my girls are no longer interested in climbing their play set, when the pleas to “push me on the swing, Mommy!” will be fewer and farther between until they’ve silenced altogether. And a part of me will be sad.
The grass can grow back in due time. For now, I’m embracing our sandy lawn and all it represents. It’s far from a heartache. It’s a blessing.