sin, grace, and salvation

I am a mess – sharing God’s grace with each other

Last week, a friend texted asking if she could stop by to pick up some food. At that particular moment I was in my weekday finest (sweats and a t-shirt), and we were eating lunch. Jayla and Kemper had food all over themselves. Kemper had spilled his first lunch on the floor, so we were on the second attempt. (Use your imaginations to recreate the scene in the kitchen.) I had been cooking and doing laundry all morning, so there were clothes in living room amidst the toys. Did I mention that Kemper was still in his jammies? I picked up my phone to reply and told the friend to stop by, but that we and my house were a bit of a mess. Since that day, I’ve caught myself apologizing for this mess or that mess several times and even heard it from others. Why is it that we women are always embarrassed by or apologizing for our messes. Whether we’re referring to our hair, clothes, lack of makeup, house, kids, (maybe our husbands), it seems like there’s always something that we would describe as a mess.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one living in and with messes. (If I am the only one, please let me continue in my delusion of everyone having messes; I don’t want to deal with that lonely reality.) At some point, we were taught that being a mess was not okay. I’m pretty sure I’m guilty of instilling this message in my daughter who I am constantly reminding to pick up after herself. It’s as if the moment she walks into a room, she must leave behind a token so that all will know Alayna has been there: her backpack, shoes, pajamas, books, hair ties, earrings, clothes, food, dirty dishes, anything that leaves her mark. I do love her with all my heart; I’m just not that fond of tripping over the “tokens” she leaves behind, so I am trying to teach her to pick things up. Eventually, we understand that these messes are a bad thing, but cleaning them up isn’t any fun, so instead we hide them: under the bed, behind the couch, under some blankets. Alayna’s getting good at this. As long as things look neat on the outside, it’s all good. At least until mom comes along, discovers the stash, and ruins everything.

Long after we’ve been taught to clean up after ourselves, we are still trying to hide our messes. Not physically or the state of our family or our homes, but our hearts. We don’t want people to see the messes in our hearts, the sins we struggle with, so we hide them away – out of sight, out of mind. If we look good on the outside, the world won’t see the battles on the inside. Only it’s not that easy with our hearts and an all-knowing God.  “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” Hebrews 4:13. No matter how good we are at hiding our messes from other people, we can’t hide them from God. I’m starting to wonder why we try to hide the messes anyway. We don’t want people to look down on us. We want to seem like we have it all together. We want to impress that other woman who seems like she has it all together. But in reality, aren’t we all a mess? As a member of the human race, we have been tainted by sin and have officially been declared a mess. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. A Savior who knows we are a mess, sees our mess, and loves us anyway. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” Ephesians 2:4-5. We, obviously, need to work to clean up the messes in our hearts, but we have a loving and merciful God who will help us and work with us. If a holy and righteous God can love us, even the sinners that we are, shouldn’t we be a little easier on ourselves and each other? Shouldn’t we love each other through the messes? If we want to be more like Christ, we need to stop being embarrassed by our messes and stop judging each other. “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” 1 John 4:9-11. Dear friends, to love like God, we need to love each other in the middle of the mess. We need to be real and honest and stop hiding our messes.

So, to all who see me and want to know the real me, I am a mess. My hair has likely been in a pony tail for three days straight. I may have gone days without makeup or dressing in something that doesn’t feel like pajama material. My kids are a mess too. My boys can’t sit still and like to wrestle. I have a nine-year-old daughter with the attitude of a teenager. I have a baby who isn’t bathed daily. I have piles of laundry at my house and toys scattered all over. I have games with missing pieces and broken parts. I am a complete mess. But I have a Savior who loves me completely. Who knows that I don’t have it all together and neither does anyone else. He knows that I work hard to love and serve a God bigger than myself. He knows that I need grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and he gives it to me freely. I don’t have to be mess-less to come to him. He loves me, yes, even me. Though my God won’t do my laundry, clean my toilets, discipline my kids, or pick out a cute outfit for me, he will love me unconditionally. He will guide my life if I let him, so that all that I do, I do for him. He will give me wisdom as I raise my kids, and he will supply energy when I think I have none left. He will forgive me and help me clean up the messes in my heart. And, some day, he will take me into his arms and declare me redeemed with no more messes to hide or apologize for. I will spend an eternity loving, praising, and serving the God of my messes.

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for loving me even though I am a mess. Thank you for the sacrifice of your Son so that my mess of a heart can be forgiven and cleaned. I pray that you help me not to hide behind messes and use them as excuses to avoid others. Instead, Father, help me to love, strengthen, and encourage those around me. Help me to serve you even in the middle of my mess.

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