Purpose Behind the Mess

In the education world, a new trend is gathering momentum, especially in middle and elementary schools. It is called a “makerspace” and it is challenging administrators and counselors to go to great lengths to restructure a students’ schedules and environment. A makerspace is an area in a school or library that is filled with tools and materials to be used to help a student create. A new makerspace in a local Fort Worth library describes its space like this:

“A creative DIY space where people can gather to create, invent, tinker, explore, and discover using a variety of tools and materials. Artists, builders, crafters, graphic designers, engineers are all makers in their own way. This gives them a space to explore new skills.”

I vividly remember the day when I first heard about this new phenomenon. It was shortly after my kids started back to school and I was trying to put away and clean up all the evidence that summer had exploded all over my house.

One of the activities I encourage in the summertime is creative building. We are blessed with a “school room” in our home. Nine months of the year it is where the kids work on homework or school tasks. However, three months of the year, it is filled with cardboard boxes, duct tape, hammers, nails, unfinished projects, and creative sketches yet to come to life. On the day I first heard about makerspaces, I was attempting to make the school room functional in the standard sense. In other words, I was undoing my family’s own makerspace for the sake of a clean area to pull out school books. I chuckled at the irony.

Of course, all of life needs a happy medium, somewhere between the chaos of creating and the perfection of cleanliness. However, all too often I find myself begrudging the former and idolizing the latter. Proverbs 14:4 explains, “Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.” The old saying “cleanliness equals godliness” is simply untrue.

The beautiful reality is that useful and beneficial and productive activities create messes.

Are we to hate the mess? Are we to allow ourselves to become bothered and annoyed at the lack of organized perfection in our homes? No. We are to intentionally look for and rejoice over the benefit and beauty of the increase that comes from the creators of those messes. As the Fort Worth library describes, the future artists, designers, engineers need practice as they grow, and where better to give them the freedom to explore than in our own homes?

The schools and public spaces around us are called upon to provide makerspaces because they no longer exist in the homes where they fit the best. Maybe we are too busy to spend time getting all the craft stuff out (and properly put it away) or too attached to technology to learn how to skillfully handle tools.

However, God designed the home to support and foster His growing image bearers, our children. He is the ultimate Creator and He wonderfully allows us as His children to develop an eye for beauty and work and wonder. Through those things, He displays His own workmanship. This takes time and exploration and, yes, some pretty big messes sometimes. I want to choose to embrace the mess and see the beauty of creation that is happening through it.

One thought on “Purpose Behind the Mess”

  1. Yaditza Irizarry says:

    Hi, Melanie!
    I really enjoyed this article. I also have a space for building and creativity but It’s hard for me not to be annoyed by messes!! Needing some room for balance… I have to remember myself daily that creativity takes materials to be out and about ????!!