I have a complicated relationship with the word mess.
As a 3rd grade teacher in Chicago Public Schools, mess is a given in my day to day existence. I’m surrounded by mess constantly. Sometimes it’s scraps of paper and loose crayons littered on the floor of my classroom. Other times it’s the trail of papers I leave in my wake, half-finished lesson ideas, or rarely completed to-do lists that I create optimistically.
As a woman who experiences consistent struggle with severe anxiety and depression, mess has a different connotation when I experience it internally. My anxiety tends to tell me to do one of two things with my mess: hide behind it or hide from it.
When I hide behind my mess, I tend to claim it as my identity. I can’t count how many times a day or week I say in a joking manner, “Oh man, I’m such a mess right now! Literal human disaster coming through!” I put my mess in front of me as a sort of attempt to say take it or leave it to those around me. I am unapologetically messy and that’s just who I am! When I hide from my mess, I pretend it’s not there altogether. It’s easier for me to pretend and ignore than to confront. Even though there may be so much going on that I feel like I’m going to collapse, I can keep a smile on my face and pretend I’m ‘just a little stressed right now!’ Not only do I do this with people in my life, I also do it with God. I want to run away from my mess and come to Him clean, but I don’t want Him to be afraid of how much work He’s going to have on His hands.
Lately, God has been challenging my relationship with my mess.
When Adam and Eve were first in the Garden, there was nothing to separate them from God. They came naked and unashamed. However, when that intimacy with the Father was broken, they felt the need to hide. To control the image they sent to God. To control how they saw each other.
Likewise, when the Father created us, He had and still has a deep desire to know us wholly, intimately, and personally! When we’re confronted with our own sin, we want to run. We want to flip the script and either pretend it’s not there or that it’s not a serious issue. Sometimes, we even embrace that sin and begin to knit it into the way we view ourselves.
We don’t need to run from God, friends. Even after He knew that Adam and Eve had sinned and broken what was whole, He actively sought them out. Even in the brokenness and sin, He had a plan greater and more outlandish than anyone could know. Because of Jesus, we are able to come to God with our messy, sinful lives, and He joyfully enters into our mess.
God sees the beauty in my mess. He sees the beauty in the outward and inward mess that I bring to the table. I don’t have to claim it as my identity anymore, and I don’t need to run and hide from it. I am who God created me to be. I can rejoice and look for the glimpses of beauty, even in the messiest and darkest of times.
A song that deeply speaks to me regarding this topic is ‘Mess is Mine’ by Vance Joy.
Lord, forgive me for hiding my mess from you. For feeling like I can cover it on my own or run far enough away that you can’t see it. Help me to know deeply and foundationally “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, not powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
When I feel like my life is a mess, I want to make my meals as simple as possible. Even though I rarely cook, I love to have our family’s “Chicken Stew” when I feel overwhelmed. It’s so easy even I can do it, which is saying something when it comes to cooking. Boil 6 cups of salted water, add cream of chicken, add chopped chicken breast, diced potatoes, and baby carrots. Cook until you’re satisfied with the ‘doneness’ of your ingredients and enjoy!
Take time this week and ask God to show you what you’ve been trying to hide from Him. Is there an area of your life where you feel even God can’t reach? Take a moment and invite Him into that place. He can handle it, I promise.