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Several years ago, I was studying in my room when I overheard an escalating argument between two kids in the living room. I waited to intervene, wanting to give them the chance to have their own relationship, until one child invited me to mediate by running into my room to tell me her brother wouldn’t give her the bucket of water. Alarmed, because they were playing in the living room, I hastily dropped my book and rushed to the alleged scene of the crime.

The living room was barren of any toys, buckets, or water, though there were a lot of sofa cushions strewn about. I stood confused for a moment until her tiny voice blurted out, “He’s keeping all the pretend water for his elephants and won’t give me any to wash my car!”

After a completely empathetic response from me {read that with dripping sarcasm}, they redirected their imagination and the elephant began squirting the car with water to rinse it off.  Joy was restored between them, and they played together happily for at least another five minutes. 🙂

Imagination can be a great tool for restoring joy, but if we aren’t careful, imagination can be guilty of stealing joy as well.

This is not a problem unique to children.

Imagination can steal joy from grown-up places, too.  Sometimes I imagine a larger linen closet could solve my discontent, “If there were only enough room for all these pillow cases!” Or a bigger house (or a smaller one, for that matter, if I imagine minimalistic living is the answer). Sometimes my ideas for greater efficiency, which draw on a well-tuned imagination, tempt me to trust in efficiency to help me defy the gravity of my sin rather than Christ crucified. That kind of imagination steals joy.

So, what if I redirected my imagination to solve problems rather than create them? See, my kids created a problem by imagining there was a limited supply of pretend water. They solved their problem and returned to joyful fellowship with each other when they realized they had everything they needed, if they chose to look at it a little differently.

Sometimes, in my heart, I fight over pretend water.

pretend water

Like my kids, I create problems when I imagine there is too little of something I *obviously* need. But what if I used my ample, God-given imagination, to recognize I have everything I need if I choose to look at it a little differently? What if I look at my tiny linen closet and see an opportunity instead of an obstacle?

If you’ve been to my house, you know I can get creative about making space where there doesn’t seem to be any. If you’ve read about our pirate room above the boys’ room and their triple stacked bunks with the trundle beneath them, you may be under the mistaken impression that I don’t struggle with discontentment or get taken captive by my limitations (space, financial, or otherwise).

In reality, I’m a lot like my kids and their pretend water. My “pretend water” just takes the form of my house is to small for all these kids.   It is usually preceded by a visit to someone else’s house where they average more than 250 square feet of living space per person. Then I have an internal argument that escalates while my Father waits patiently for me to invite him to mediate the issues. Eventually, I run to God (complaining, I’ll be honest), and he gives me his full attention. He speaks compassionately to my heart, assures me he has provided enough, and helps me to redirect my imagination to problem solving.

Not everything I’ve imagined into my home will work in yours – but sometimes it’s helpful to see other ideas to inspire imagination, so let’s try something.

The next several weeks of Wednesday posts will include some very practical and simple tasks/systems/methods I’ve put into place in our home to help creatively solve space and homemaking “problems.”

So if you’ve ever thought, “I wish my home could be organized like ______’s home, but I just don’t have the space (or money, or ideas, or storage, or…),” start here!

Commit to looking again at what you have with the intention of seeing when enough really is enough. Let’s get creative together with our pantries, closets, cupboards, the space under the bed, and linen closets (or scrap the linen closet and store things in other creative locations)!

Maybe there is more space within the walls of your home than you realize; and contentment could be hiding in the nooks and crannies as well.