Embracing the Messiness
There is one word that I hate feeling like and that is a mess. I hate that discombobulated, strangely terrifying feeling of not being "put together". Maybe it's not knowing what the future holds, not understanding why certain things happened the way it did, or not being able to adequately process all the emotions being felt. Messiness is complicated, it's difficult, it's unfocused, it takes a lot of work and processing.
And I feel like sometimes the message I hear from Christian friends or the church is "Hide the mess" because no one wants to see it. Keep your personal drama to yourself because it's really your own. Come to church a saint with smiles and leave the baggage at home. And while I believe there is a correct place and time for talking about our struggles and being vulnerable, it can't be good to live fake lives pretending if everything really isn't ok inside. Church can only be as deep as we let it. People can only be there for us if we let them.
I guess one of my questions is What do we do with the messes in our lives and the messes we encounter in the world around us?
Should we try to hide our messes so that they don't inconvenience others? Does piling all the messy clothes in the closet help make a cleaner room in the long run? How do we cope with the situations in our life that are complicated, dirty, traumatic, or embarrassing?
If we look to God for wisdom and example, we will find that God- although not a God of disorder but of order- is not afraid of the messes we humans make of our lives. In Psalm 130 the Word says "You have searched me, Oh Lord, and you know me." God is not afraid to look directly at the mess in our lives- He sees it; so we have no reason to hide and pretend it's not there.
In the New Testament we see Jesus comfortable addressing the messes in others' lives. Instead of simply pointing them out though and condemning, Jesus cares. Jesus asks if he can help clean up the mess. In seemingly small catastrophes like a wedding running out of wine to people becoming demon possessed, Jesus lends a hand. And I believe as God followers we are asked to do the same.
Psalm 130:7 says "Where can I go from your Spirit or flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there, if I make my bed in the depths you are there... Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you."We need not be afraid of our messes or the messes of others, because we must remember that no place or person is too dark for God's light to shine there.
God doesn't only see our messes but He sees the potential in them to share His glory. Each mess we make is an opportunity for His presence to come and radiate and bring about order and peace. Often God has to break our life into pieces in order to remake us into someone more faithful, or loving, or humble.
We should worry when we feel "too cleaned up" and start judging others. We are deceived when we do not see the messes we make. God often has to remind us that our righteousness is like filthy rags. His standard of excellence is perfection and in contrast to His character of love- people will be messy and we are messy.
Embracing the messes in our personal lives opens an opportunity for growth and healing, spiritual and mental cleaning. Yet admitting that we are messes also opens up the opportunity to accept the messes others make around us more gracefully. If we refuse to acknowledge the mess, it will continue to grow bigger. We will become more critical of others and trust God less. Yet when we can look at our messes honestly, we can more clearly see God's love and grace for us through His desire to stand by us in the mess and help us clean up.
And when God finds us in our personal mess, in the times we are ashamed, disapointed, disgusted with ourselves, or just confused He whispers to us "I'm with you, I'm on your side, in the mess with you, and I'm going to help you get through this mess." And it's in this time that we meet the depths of Jesus' love for us, when we meet the God who will go through the slimiest valleys and deepest potholes just to try and pursue us once again.