Imagine making a cake with a couple of preschool age children, perhaps your own children or grandchildren. This is what one of my favorite cousins, Camille, did recently. She said her two grandchildren stirred the batter so furiously that only about half of it made it into the oven. Imagine the mess on the countertop and probably the floor, too! And then after that cake cooled and was ready for frosting, you can be sure that some of that sweet chocolate frosting – I assume chocolate – ended up on the kids’ faces and fingers!

How do you deal with people making messes of your kitchen, your house, your relationships and whatever else you can imagine? How does chaos feel? Is there a possibility that chaos can be a GOOD part of life or that chaos can even be fulfilling?

Here is what my cousin, Camille, had posted on Facebook about her grandchildren’s visit. I’ve used it with her permission.

“I love it when the grandbabies stay the night. We made a cake and they were both stirring so furiously that only about half made it in the oven. Kayson frosted it by himself and did a great job. Then they took over the TV, the phone and the tablet for the night. But now they are sleeping, and I miss the chaos. Love them so much!”

Seeing this softened my heart. I am one who doesn’t like to deal with messes. Maybe it was because I did daycare for over 25 years and started losing the joy of messes created by children. These heartfelt comments by my cousin Camille caused me to think about chaos in a different light. I began to wonder what is the importance of embracing chaos?

Here are 3 things I learned from my cousin’s grand parenting experience and how embracing chaos can actually heal relationships.

1. Chaos facilitates growth.

Let’s face it – we learn most from mistakes and that means making a mess of cake batters and relationships! For those of us who are perfectionists, this is a hard idea to accept. We think somehow those children with limited experience and abilities are supposed to mix that cake batter and frost that cake flawlessly without making a mess. Well, for most children, it’s developmentally impossible for them to do a task like baking a cake perfectly without making a mess. In relationships, it’s the same idea. We may be adults, but we are still learning how to bake that perfect relationship and with our limited experience and expertise, we most likely will make many messes as we learn to improve the process. Be OK with making mistakes in relationships and don’t get uptight and bent out of shape.

I will admit my first thoughts and gut reaction to children making a mess in my kitchen – I must be getting old – caused me to feel uptight and anxious. But when I remember to separate the action, weakness or chaos (and my possible frustrated, embarrassed, angry or annoyed feelings) from the amazing person someone really is, I can love and embrace them more unconditionally and give them room to grow, too.

2. Chaos results in order.

Dishes and laundry are some of life’s constant work we face almost every day unless you have a hired maid! Dishes at my house tend to pile up and somehow if they don’t fit into the dishwasher or are the delicate ones that require hand washing, they may sit on my counter for days. After a few weeks of this, the chaos and clutter energy gets strong enough that I dig in and deep clean my kitchen by having every last dish, plate, utensil, pot, pan and plastic containers and lids washed and put away. I will also move small appliances and cookie jars and wash every inch of my countertops and scrub that annoying ceramic sink that tends to get dingy and marked up.

Karen Kingston in her book “Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui” says, “Being clear of clutter is one of the greatest aids I know to discovering and manifesting the life you want.” I whole-heartedly believe that observation because clutter and chaos can be energy-draining, and I’m sensitive to that type of energy. Whether you are sensitive to it or not, clutter affects you and your ability to succeed in all areas of your life. Chaos and clutter can be good if they motivate you to improve.

I recently set a goal to go to bed with a spotless kitchen because I’m wanting to upgrade my life in that area. It feels so much better to wake up to a clean kitchen to start the day. Also, if I remember the great feeling there is to have food and nice dishes to eat it on, I can be grateful for the mess and feel more positive that I am blessed to have to clean up after enjoying life’s bounties. My cousin realized the blessing of having her grandchildren visit, rather than focus on the mess they made.

Hopefully you find great joy in your blessings of relationships, especially those with your spouse or children. As we realize that messy relationships is just part of life, we will appreciate the opportunity to clean them up once in awhile and create more order in them. We can improve the quality of our relationships as we overcome obstacles. And then we will just have higher quality chaos to deal with to challenge us to grow to the next level! Remember, you are more likely to work harder and fix a messy relationship if you see it as a blessing rather than a curse whether it’s with your spouse, child, other family member, co-worker or friend.

3. Chaos teaches us what is most important.

We see the chaos that nature sometimes causes with natural disasters whether it be an earthquake, tidal wave, hurricane or tornado. Man creates chaos when power-seeking individuals seek to control fellow human beings through force and bloody wars. If a tornado was to rip through your neighborhood or an earthquake toppled buildings to the ground, you would be thinking mostly about your loved ones in that uncertain chaos. The chaos of illness or even death causes us to forgive and forget quickly the weaknesses and shortcomings of our spouse and family. Our hearts long for healing or to be with deceased ones again, and the chaos from those relationships seems insignificant when faced with the chance of losing a loved one.

At times like this we may say as Camille did, “…I miss the chaos. Love them so much!”

Thanks to my cousin for reminding me the joys of the chaos when baking a cake with grandchildren, and that I can be THANKFUL for chaos in relationships and look at it as an opportunity to upgrade my relationships. With some practice, all messy cake making activities and relationship chaos will eventually create an amazing chocolate masterpiece for all to enjoy!