Bedlam…yep, that is where I could be found in many periods of my life. With a husband and three kids, oftentimes (well, more times than not) our household could be found living in the world of Bedlam. If you have kids, you may have visited Bedlam a time or two. While visiting this chaotic and crazy place, it is difficult to find the time to pick up toys while wiping snotty noses, clean the kitchen while grubby little hands are pulling at our shirts, or bathe ourselves while being up to our elbows in water bathing our kids. Who in the heck has time to think of anything else, least of all socializing with our friends? Socializing, oh my goodness, what is that? Oh yeah, that is what I used to do before I had a family with three children.

In a perfect world, we could have a family and an orderly life with the dishes washed, the beds made, and the toys (including those little, too-many-to-count, strewed-everywhere, pain-in-the-neck Legos) picked up and in their boxes. However, we do not live in a perfect world. If your world looks anything like mine, the beds don’t always get made, the dishes may not get washed, and those “cherished” toys, you guessed it, don’t always get picked up. What I have discovered after three children and many many years down the road is that it is okay. It’s okay if those tasks on our to-do lists do not get checked off. I have learned that the sun still rises the next day and those tasks are still there waiting for us to complete another time. Taking a few minutes to pour ourselves into our family and friends is much more important and fulfilling than cleaning floors or washing windows. We are given a certain time here on this earth, shouldn’t we make the most of every moment given to us by God by enjoying the things that truly matter?

Besides isn’t that what God is all about – relationships. When Jesus was asked in Matthew 22:36-37, what the greatest commandment was. Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind. This is the first commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor (family, friends, passersby, anyone that you may come in contact with) as yourself.” (italics mine)

Jesus was and is all about relationships. While on this earth, Jesus had friends. He depended on his relationships, especially the close fellowship with His disciples and His family. Jesus was encouraged by His friends and he encouraged them. He loved those people He called family. Jesus had a very limited time on this earth before going to the Cross. Before he began His ministry, you would most likely find Him working as a carpenter as his earthly father did and helping to take care of everyday chores. The Bible in Luke 2:52 reads, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” This last part of that verse simply means that Jesus took the time to connect with God and with men. Jesus, God the Son, could often be found talking to God the Father through prayer which deepened their relationship. Similarly, Jesus shared Himself and His time with the people around Him, including His closest friends. In the midst of His busyness (teaching, serving, and changing lives for eternity), Jesus took the time to invite friends into His life for a few good laughs and great life-altering conversations.

If Jesus took the time to invest in relationships, then shouldn’t we? Shouldn’t we make the time to stop in the hustle-and-bustle that we call life, and invite some friends over, let our hair down, and have some rolling-in-the-floor, busting-a-gut laughs? What if we stopped stressing out about the not-so-eternal to-do lists and start investing most of our energies into that which delights our hearts, sweetens relationships, and encourages our families?

There have been several times in my life when I have been embarrassed to have friends over – my goodness, what will they think of this mess?! There have been other times when I’ve just wanted to go and visit a good friend, but my arrival ended up causing her worry about her home and what I would think. I know that personally, I am not interested in the cleanliness of a house as much as I am in the person that I love.

Shattered Magazine would like to see a revolution of sorts. We would love to have people start to be real with each other. That means that we don’t want you to feel like you have to put on a performance or clean up your act/house/look in order to enjoy true relationship with others. Sure, there might be people who judge out there, but if enough of us make the decision to just get real – dirt and all – then maybe we can affect a sort of cultural change out there.

So, I have a challenge for you. Don’t wash dishes. Don’t pick up the Legos. Don’t sweep and mop the floors. If you are really brave here is another challenge to add to the first one: keep your comfy sweats on; don’t put your face on (a.k.a. no makeup); and let the natural oils shine in your hair. THEN, invite several of your gal-pals for a hooting and hollering good time. Relationships grow and deepen when we invest quality time in them. I will be taking up my own challenge. Move over Martha Stewart – queen of the home; here comes Diane – Queen of chaos, but abounding in friends – dirt and all.