Sometimes you just have to sit in the mess. Boy, is that true. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it means to deal with “the mess” of life as I have very much been walking through it. “The mess”can feel like nothing, yet everything. It consists of things that you consciously know and things that you subconsciously feel. It encapsulates all of the messy, painful, frustrating, and sad moments that can be simultaneously bombarding your mind with emotion and affecting and influencing your reaction to the world. “The mess” is painful. “The mess” is for real.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the mess recently because I want to walk through the mess well. I want to be able to face it full force and conquer it so that I can say that “I conquered the road to success through the mess”. Cheesy, punny, but you get the point.
When I look at my life right now in this moment, I can see the mess. The Lord has opened my eyes to see the pain and the sadness and the frustration and the anger and the jealousy and the bitterness and the insecurity that exists in my heart and, in turn, in my life. I’m not sure if you know this yet, but everything that you say and do is directly influenced by the things that you hold in your heart. If you respond poorly to a compliment, maybe you have a root of insecurity in your heart. If you are quickly angered by being asked a basic, harmless question, maybe you need to look at the core of the question and ask yourself honestly why it made you angry. I know that in the past year, I have encountered numerous situations where I responded very poorly to a very basic, generic circumstance and when I looked deeper, I found a wound that I thought had healed years ago, or even a wound that I didn’t even know existed. One of the most ready examples that comes to mind is when I was talking to my roommate/bestie/sister and she very harmlessly commented at something that she thought I wouldn’t like, but I responded with frustration and bitterness towards her comment. When I expressed to her that I found fault with her comment she asked me why and I had to look at myself. I really had to look at myself. And when I looked, I found that her comment bothered me because when I was growing up, people often enjoyed telling me what I would or wouldn’t like. Whether it be my siblings, my friends, my peers, older influences in my life, most of them meant it harmlessly, but nonetheless, I was berated by inferences as to what I would and wouldn’t like. When I found this, I asked myself why it bothered me, and what I discovered is that I despised that inference because it was derived from many of the people in my life who would tell me how young I was. I knew that I did things that were not ‘standard’ for my age, but God was leading me forward so who was I to sit back and say, “No, not yet. Society tells me I need to wait a few years, so I’m going to catch some Z’s.” Heck-to-the-no. I walked forward with my hand safely, securely nestled in my Father’s hand. So as I walked forward with my Father, I was constantly reminded that I was little – that the things that I was doing were not the norm and that I was “just so little”.
I grew to resent that – being called ‘little’ – and I began to avoid situations, conversations, or questions which solicited my age until it became almost a non-issue.
So then, when my authentically genuine roommate asked me why her comment bothered me, I knew that it was not just the comment, that it was not just the reminder of all the people who told me what I should or shouldn’t like or should or shouldn’t do, but it was an even deeper wound that wasn’t quite so ‘little’ at all.
Being called little made me doubt me. Being called little made me doubt that I should be doing what I was doing. Being called little made me doubt that I could do what I was doing and succeed. Being called little made me feel “less than”. Being called little made me doubt my worth. Being called little made me acknowledge my own youth and made me stare it in the face. Being called little actually made me feel little.
This, not-so-little musing of the heart, is just one of the items on the floor that compose my mess. It is real and it is valid and it is part of the mess that I need to walk through so that I can find healing on the other side. That is what I am learning about the mess. First, you have to sit in the mess: acknowledge it, look at it, accept that it is real and that it really affects your life in tangible ways. Secondly, you have to walk through the mess: after you have sat in the mess and you have reached a certain level of acceptance of its existence in your life, you have to walk through the mess, to sift through the wreckage and the disaster zone to uncover the flower that blooms underneath the rubble of the fallen bridge. Then, you hold onto the hope of the flower, knowing that as you walk through the mess and acknowledge the pain and healing that is required, that God’s grace is sufficient both now and forever. That his grace is no less sufficient in this moment than it has always been and that he has been with you through the mess the whole time.
Then, after you reach the edge, the debris begin to thin and become more dispersed, the air gets a little cleaner with each step, and on the horizon you catch a glimpse of the glimmer of waves cresting in his Ocean of Grace. And as you draw closer, as the sand under your feet turns cool after being scorched, his waves of Grace entice you and you dive under, tasting the sweet water of hope. Truth washes over you as you submerge from the water and float on your back. All of the pain, all of the sadness, all of the anger and frustration, all of the jealousy, all of the bitterness, and all of the insecurity begin to wash away on the waves and their very existence is incinerated by the kiss of the sun against the surface of Gracious waters.
Sometimes you just have to sit in the mess in order to walk through the mess in order to find healing on the other side.
Let’s walk through it.