Everyone has a little red kitchen rug.

When we got married five years ago, like most young couples, we didn’t have much to our names. In a span of two months, we’d graduated from college, gotten married, returned from our Hawaiian honeymoon, and settled into our first place together. It was furnished, but bare. Dark tile. Black leather couches. Metal chairs. A glass kitchen table. We loved the condo (and, oh, how thankful we’ve been for it), but it needed brightening, a little less man cave and a little more home. The problem? We were living on a teacher’s salary that hadn’t been paid yet. Amy didn’t start working for a few more weeks, she wouldn’t be paid for a month, and Jordan’s first semester of law school was about to begin — which meant tuition (a lot of it) was about to come due — and the decorating budget was slim to none.

We were blessed, though, by a generous family friend who took us shopping for new home decor as a belated wedding gift, and Amy’s mom (an interior designer), who took that plus some Target gift cards a long, long way. Within a matter of weeks, our new house was a home. Light blues in the bedroom to facilitate sleep. Bold reds in the kitchen to complement our appetites. And, right below the sink, a little red kitchen rug where Jordan still stands when he cooks.

We’ve had that rug for five years and, despite Jordan’s best efforts, God bless him, he can’t keep it clean for more than a few seconds, it seems. The crumbs and scraps always find it. Yet, no matter how many times that little red kitchen rug goes from clean to dirty, no matter how many times it gets messy or even looks damaged, Jordan still stops what he’s doing, makes the short walk to the coat closet, pulls out the vacuum, and cleans it, believing each time that it’s worth it, even if he’ll have to do it again and again.

Over the years, we’ve come to love our little red rug, and everything it stands for. It’s not just a rug to us anymore, but a constant reminder that even when it seems like trouble is going to find it, when the dirt and the dust and the crumbs come to take over, it’s the constant care and attention, the persistent cleaning and pruning and gleaning that’s allowed it to survive in the chaos of our kitchen for all these years.

So, no matter what you’re going through today, friend, regardless of what’s messy in your life or what crumbs are discouraging you from dusting yourself off and getting back up, we encourage you to get out your vacuum, find your little red kitchen rug, and even knowing that you will make mistakes again, give yourself a fresh start.

Everyone has a little red kitchen rug.

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