Parenting is arguably the most impacting role in all of society. The ability to birth and raise up the next generation, is not only a huge privilege but is truly an opportunity to impact the world.
However, so often we can get lost in the hardship and seemingly trivial and monotonous tasks that make up our days as parents. We can get frustrated by the immense need and constant mess that our children bring to our life. If that is where you find yourself, I want to invite you to consider these simple words found in Proverbs 14:4 (ESV):
“Where there is no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.”
An ox is a huge animal. It requires a lot of food which means that it produces a lot of poop! Thus, the manger of a living, breathing ox would be very messy. But the amount of work that the ox can perform is huge and has quite an impact on the fruit that will come. So, the reality is that without oxen you will have no need, no mess, and no poop…BUT you will also have little to no productivity.
In the same way that a farmer can easily embrace the work needed to maintain and care for the oxen because the fruit yielded makes it worthwhile, we too can embrace and value the work and “mess” required to raise children because the fruit yielded is very valuable.
In addition, as we lean into the challenges of parenting and embrace all that comes with a “messy manger”, we have the added opportunity to be sanctified by the laying down of our life for another. Parenting provides a chance like little else does to learn what it means to die to ourselves, to put another’s needs before our own, and to sacrifice in a way that releases constant worship to the Lord.
So rather than feeling frustrated or impatient at the way that our children and their needs can impose on the order, quiet, or rhythms of our lives, let us embrace the opportunity to lean into the mess. The presence of much “poop” represents an opportunity for an incredible yield of fruit that not only will have short term affects but will have a long-lasting impact on into eternity.