On the Importance of Mud

Yesterday we talked about mud, and, well, being face down in it. Exhausted. Worn out. A little bit done. Because that is life, and that is faith, and that is marriage, and that is motherhood some days.

OK, most days.

Alright; it’s part of every freaking day, but I was shooting for optimism here, so let’s lie a teeny, tiny bit to ourselves and stick with “most days,” OK? Thank you.

Truth is, there are people in this world who are going to exhort you to get out of that mud pit, and get back on the straight and narrow, and take one more step, and do more and doubt less, but I? I am not one of them.

Quite frankly, if I see you face down on life’s path, spread eagle and mumbling, “I can’t do it anymore. I can’t. Not. One. More. Step,” I’m not the one who’s going to jog in place with pep and vigor and cheerfully shout, “Oh, come on. Hop up! YOU CAN DO IT.”

No, I’m sure not. Because, although I’m as certain as the cheerleader that you can take another step, I’m the girl who’s going to see you there, covered in mud and exhaustion, and flop down beside you on my back, look up at the sky and the trees, and say, “Can you even believe it’s possible to be THIS TIRED? This DONE? With All The Things?” And I will shake my head back and forth in that mud in disbelief at this much weariness as I tell the others who stumble upon us, “Carry on! Don’t wait for us. We’re just taking a lengthy break right here. An indefinite break. A break to shame all previous breaks. You know, because we’re stretching out our muscles and stuff.” And then I’ll stage whisper to you, “Or we’re dying,” and you’ll laugh, because you’ll know I’m kidding, but barely.

Lots of people will carry on, hurdling over us at breakneck speeds, and we’ll cheer for them as best we can in our wasted state, thinking good for you and, when we can muster the energy, giving them a half-hearted one-thumb-up. But some other weary souls will collapse beside us, and the group of us will lay there together in the mess and just breathe. And shake our heads. And laugh when we can. And breathe again.

Which is a lot what Love looks like to me these days.

Yep. This is so much what Love looks like to me these days.

And as your comments came in, comments of mamaraderie like,

I’m right there with you in the mud,


Move over, friend; I’ll bring a pillow for our heads,


God just flopped down with us and started a game of find-the-pictures in the clouds,


I think I will lay down in the mud and rest with you all,…

…we anointed each other. With mud matted in our hair and oozing through our clothes; with clouds making pictures of dragons over our heads; in the presence of Love; in the middle of the madness; together on messy, gooey ground, we dipped our fingers into the wet earth and painted each other with symbols of blessing. With Honesty. With Laughter. With Love. With Peace. With Solidarity. With Community.

We anointed each other, friends.

And, YES. Yes, this is Love, exactly. And bear with me a minute, here, because this reminds me of a Jesus story. An important one, I think. Truly critical for those of us in the mud. And remember, if you’re not a Jesusy person, that’s OK. Sometimes I just call Jesus and God by their other name, Love, and then it all makes better sense to me.

Here’s the story:

As Jesus went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus…


After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash.” So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.*

We spend so much time asking what’s wrong with us, don’t we? Feeling like we’re not enough. Or too much. Or sitting in the dark. Or otherwise stuck in the mire. And the world seems to spend a lot of effort trying to figure out who’s to blame for, well, everything. And all of that wondering and wandering and finger-pointing and not-enoughing can make us miss the whole point. The truth is, healing comes when we allow Divine Love to enter into the mix of mud and spit and sorrow and people who are stuck in the dark.

Love enters in.

Not in spite of the mess.

But through it.

Because of it.

I love that Jesus chose something so ridiculous, SO MESSY – not pretty, not pristine, not even a little Pinteresty – to heal. Love hocked a loogie in the dirt, friends, and used the things that don’t make sense as agents of sight.

And here’s the thing that I believe to be absolutely true: sitting in the dirt with the mud and the spit smeared on us is enough, and is, in fact, Divine. When we work from this place of enough – this mess of life is enough; I am enough; Love is enough – we are kinder and gentler to the people around us and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves. Because when nothing separates us from the dirt and the spit and the mud, we are, finally, on sacred, holy ground.



*John 9:1-3, 6, 7

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
  1. […] talked about living between the Hallelujahs and sitting in the mud together when we just can’t muster the energy to take one more […]

  2. […] and guardian. To find the missing socks. And so I find myself today wanting to hug the earth and rest my head in the mud and sit quietly, watching the sky and season change around me. I am, quite literally, in the calm […]

  3. […] choose it, anyway, over and over; to have faith in the mystery and the magic and the mess. To have faith in the mud and the muck and unreasonable mercy, which are all, in their own way, […]

  4. […] are the driving force behind the 5 Kids blog. This space is about community; finding each other, finding ourselves, waving to each other in the dark until the dawn comes, and always – […]

  5. […] Deeper and Brighter and Bigger and Lighter and Freer, you know? Which is why we need each other. To sit in the mud together, yes. To just lay down in the mess and look at the clouds and rest together, yes. But also to point […]

  6. […] We are people who can’t take one more step and sit, immovable, smack-dab in the middle of the mud. […]

  7. […] just, lately, I’m stuck somewhere between inertia – just sort of face down on the floor and done in and rather ppffftttt – and thinking I need to be more Nike; all […]

  8. […] are the driving force behind the 5 Kids blog. This space is about community; finding each other, finding ourselves, waving to each other in the dark until the dawn comes, and always – […]

  9. […] happen when Life takes you off the beaten path and helps you forge a more authentic, albeit very, very muddy, path through the […]

  10. […] to see as growth: becoming crackly and brittle, falling to the earth, waiting in the darkness, sitting in the mud, pushing against the dirt and, eventually, straining again toward the […]

  11. […] On the Importance of Mud  —> Five Kids Is A Lot Of Kids […]

  12. Thanks for giving me fresh eyes (so to speak) to see mud in all its glory, full of potential for healing and for bringing people together. I will try to embrace the next muddy moment and squish the stuff of life between my toes rather than cringing immediately with thoughts of cleaning and laundry.

  13. […] a formula for success in the midst of trial but just “hanging on for dear life” and this post here about resting in the mud, in the mess of it, because He’s willing to sit right there with […]

  14. I am definitely have a mess and am able to think about how messy construction sights are and that we are construction site building a family. Thank you for your post. I have however, been working not so much on mud, but more so on mold, yuck!

  15. Very nice to read this post today. It was something I needed to hear. (Don’t enter me in the giveaway…only MOPS groups in my area are on mornings I work)

  16. This morning there was a large cockroach in my coffee maker. IN THE COFFEE MAKER, PEOPLE. A line has been crossed. They must all die.

    (I miss Portland. Warm climates suck.)

    1. Oh, and as much as I love MOPS, there isn’t a group in my new town, so winning the contest would do me no good. Boo.

    2. The only sensible answer is WAR!!

  17. OK, I’ve been needing to confess and this is like a bonus space to do so for several reasons BUT a contest!! Woohhhooooo!!!!

    My messy moment to confess comes from just the other day when I created mud in my house, on my couch and behind my couch. Why and how do you ask?? Well, one child was teetering at the bottom of the couch screeching at his sister who was towering over him behind the couch and screeching back. Here’s where the mud comes in…….I tossed a glass of water on them to make them stop screeching, and well my house is dusty from said kids and dogs, thus the mud. It was a beautiful, muddy (very satisfying) moment. I didn’t know what else to do all else had failed, I was tired, exhausted, face down in the mud myself.

    1. That was awesome, hahahaha!

  18. Working on loving, not just cleaning up, a muddy family!

  19. I love MOPS theme for this year. Our group starts up next week…can’t wait!

    I’ve got a 2 month old and a 19 month old, so there’s a lot of beautiful mess happening around here now. Like when I tried to get an adorable sister-y picture of my two girls, and just got a lot of pictures of them crying.

  20. A few years ago my kids were 3, 2, and newborn. The two year old emptied a bottle of water all over the sofa, turned a full rubbish bin upside down on the kitchen floor, threw his dinner (a bowl full of chicken risotto) on the carpet, then went around the corner while I was on my hands and knees cleaning risotto off the floor, did a poop in his diaper, took it off and smeared it on the living room carpet. This was all within the space of about an hour. My husband got home from work about 10 mins after the poop incident and found me in the bathroom sobbing as I showered the poop and risotto covered toddler. He wrapped his arms around me and said “it’s okay honey, I’m here, I’m here.”
    How I love that man of mine for just embracing me in the mud (and other unspeakable things) and showing me love while I threw my hands up and said “this is hard, and I am exhausted!” No pep talks, no “you can do this!” No criticism, just love. There have been other ‘lie down in the mud and just try to breathe through it’ types of days. As well as heavenly, beautiful moments of pure joy. Love is what gets us through it all and I think we could all do with a little more of that. Thank you for another fantastic post Beth.

  21. OK – going completely literal here although your mud analogy did not just wash over me and I loved reading about it, but I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to plug my mud story for a good cause. Kids need to play in the mud, mum’s need to keep mud out the house but kids in wheelchairs and mum’s with kids in wheelchairs have a harder time than the rest of us with this. Please give a vote on World CP Day to help promote awareness of CP and get some developers / manufacturers to make us some MUD SOCKS. Voting opens 1st October so vote here: http://bit.ly/18WDhWR and you can watch the video here: http://bit.ly/1c6ttAL whilst you wallow in the mud 🙂

  22. Walking through the mud is kinda like walking through life, you’re moving right along and when you hit that thick heavy mud it slows you down. Although its extremely frustrating at times, sometimes it may make you slow down and take a different perspective on things.

    1. You’re our MOPS winner, Heather! I’ve sent your email address (just today because I’m a giant dork who didn’t finish anything on my September To Do List) to MOPS headquarters so they can contact you directly.


  23. I just joined MOPS for the first time ever (I know, I was a bit of snob about it, sorry) and we had our first meeting yesterday. Our theme this year is Beautiful Mess. Rather appropriate what with the mud and all…
    Oh, and we don’t have much mud at the moment… good thing because my son’s mattress is out in the back yard drying out after he soaked it good at naptime yesterday… not with mud, but with, well, I’m sure you can guess.

  24. So my kitchen is a mess right now. I went grocery shopping at midnight on Sunday night. Sometime on Monday someone left the freezer door open just a little bit and the warm air got inside and created frost. The frost stopped the fan and the fridge stopped cooling. We had the hottest day of the year yesterday here in Ohio… almost 100 degrees, but I was busy since it was an election day and I work at the polls helping people vote. Except that I wasn’t there for the whole day because my babysitter went to pick up my youngest son and felt something pop and then was in huge amounts of pain — like writhing on the floor pain… scaring my kids pain.
    I couldn’t get another sitter for my five kids so I had to go home to take care of them. I also had to call an ambulance to come get my friend, my favorite babysitter, to the hospital because I couldn’t get her into my car because of the pain… and she doesn’t drive. So by this time, four of my five were home from preschool and just home and they were stressed, so I fed them snacks for lunch, but really nothing out of the refrigerator. Then we went out so the kids could forget some of the trauma of seeing their favorite friend being taken to the hospital after seeing her in so much pain. So I served McDs for dinner. (I am a good mom, really I am.) Then showers, then bed.
    This morning I realized that the fridge was at 65 degrees. Probably had been that way since Monday. MONDAY. this is WEDNESDAY people. Needless to say I had to pitch five garbage bags full of no longer edible food. Including the milk that my sweet hubby put on the kids’ cereal this morning. Did I mention I went to the store at MIDNIGHT on SUNDAY night???
    I am ready to cry… enough, Lord… I give. What am I missing? I will do it. Just please, please stop. I have endured all I can do. My husband has been out of work for eleven months… whoever said the economy was improving lied. He gets interviews out of town that seem to be a good fit but they go with someone local to them. We will move. We want to move. We are ready to go… but we wait. I am tired. I am sitting in the mud with you.

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