I’m confident I can get away with saying, “Life can be hard.”
I’m also confident I can get away with saying, “Life can be messy.”
But this one may take some explaining to pull off:
“The hardest part of life isn't always life's hardest moments.
Sometimes... It's “The Mess.”
Me too. Let's walk this one out a bit, shall we?
Honestly, to some degree, we have all faced tragedy:
“I'm leaving you.”
“I'm sorry, she's passed on.”
And in that tragedy, we often resort to our strongest defense: Becoming single-minded, tackling this world-shaking horror with our entire being, and seeking solace wherever we can.
It is here where we take the truest inventory of our blessings, no matter how big or small, and cobble together even the most minor strands of happiness. We build a counterweight to slam against the boulder life has slapped us with.
But in “The Mess” - that is where we lose our way.
You may have a job, maybe even one that can pay enough bills to keep the collectors at bay and still put food on the table. But, one lazy coworker or supervisor adding to your daily duties and confusion, and thankfulness gets harder to feel.
The wedding has happened (or is fully in the works, provided you can import your pastor from the north) and your mate and you are truly making it work. But, conflicting work schedules are cutting your face time short, budget concerns are making even a cup of coffee a questioned purchase, and one more discussion about chore distribution might just drive you over a cliff.
Your health may be fine, your family may be doing well, and you may have great friends.
But, the bathroom sink is still leaking; and the eldest child, while having made it through the ugly divorce, is still in need of help on a bill or two; and that calcified lump on your wrist is really starting to ache again. And let's forget how bald the tires on your car have become, and how poorly your debut novel sold, because now you have to address the anxiety issues of the youngest child, even though she is breezing through classes in a way you only dreamed of. Plus, election season depression and Christmas planning. Oh yeah, and your beagle just passed.
It becomes overwhelming fast, but not in a way you can always immediately see. You aren't faced with one huge boulder to conquer: It's a hill of rocks and pebbles piling up before you, and all you have handy for removal is a soup spoon.
This is where you must flex to the situation, and just seek that one beautiful moment. Maybe it is a positive response to a piece of work. Or that picky eater that went back for seconds of your tuna mac salad.
It’s that quiet moment, with all the kids in the house, dressed in those new Christmas pajamas, decorating the tree together, leaving you to lift your grand-baby up to place the angel far older than she is on the top branch.
You know - That one. Beautiful. Moment.
This is where the “counterweight” response is changed. It isn't about overpowering the attacking stressors with an equal count of blessings. It is about finding that one joyful moment and using it as an anchor.
That beautiful moment is where conquering “The Mess” begins, because it shows you that you CAN handle life's shenanigans at any turn. “The Mess” is about slaying you with a thousand paper-cuts. You show it that no single slice can bring you down, then you face each one on its own, and conquer it.
It can be a slow process, but not every great victory is won in three days.
Truth be told, this is the meal we ate for the “one perfect Christmas moment” I described above:
“Mr. Mom”, by Lonestar, on album, “Let's Be Us Again.”
It is perfect for capturing one healthy slice of what “The Mess” can look like.
“The Mess” frazzles your mind, and devours your time. Keep your prayer simple, and maybe follow the P.R.A.Y. model for praying:
“Lord Jesus, thank you for every blessing you give me, no matter how big or small. You are always there, even when it is hard for me to see you.
I am sorry that I don't always notice how blessed I am, and I am sorry that I don't always tell you how thankful I am for those blessings.
Please help me to see those blessings in all their glory. And help me to truly feel the peace and joy each and every one should bring.
I open my heart to you Lord, asking you to enter in and continue your work in my life.
(Reflect silently for several moments. This is that “Yield” part where you let God actually begin the work you just asked for and open yourself to hear what God wants to tell you.)
In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.”
Time? That's funny.
Time is the first thing “The Mess” devours. And it does so with gusto.
Your best bet: The last five minutes before you crawl into bed. Take that five minutes and try to seek out that one beautiful moment the day brought. It won't be easy and that beautiful moment might be tiny. But seek it out for five minutes.
If you find it, pray the above prayer.
If you don't find it, pray the above prayer.
In time, you will learn to recognize the perfect moment each day brings, regardless of how short and small that moment is. And with that, you arm yourself better to sort out “The Mess.”