Inserting messiness into your life is never easy. Messy is hard. I’ve been reminded of this truth the past several weeks as workmen descended on my house to add a few lights into our living room ceiling. I mean what’s the big deal about adding a few ceiling lights? You cut a hole, you pop a light in, you close it up – and voila(wa-lah)! You’ve got lights!Right? Wrong. (If any of you are in the world of construction, you’re shaking your head at me right now.)Adding a few lights into a ceiling is a major, messy process that involves three different crews over three different weeks.It involves cutting twenty holes in your ceiling to provide adequate space for just one or two lights to shine through.It involves covering large amounts of your home in plastic and dust as crews saw, cut, wire, plaster, sand, and finally paint. Bottom line: it involves your home, your room, and your life getting really, really messy.But here’s the cool part about the mess over the last several weeks in my home.
I’ve been ok with it.
I know that might not sound like a monumental or earth-shattering statement, but for this control-freak, non-mess-kind-of-girl, that’s huge progress.Over the last seven years, somewhere in midst of my journey towards earned secure attachment, I’ve grown more comfortable and accustomed to mess.It doesn’t mean I like it, and it doesn’t mean I don’t look forward to the day when the mess is over and I have my house back again in one piece without plastic.But it does mean while the mess is happening, while the construction crew is sawing, pounding, and cutting, I’m not freaking out.I’m not taking out my frustration on my husband or kids; I’m still able to be present to the people and tasks around me even while the mess is underway. Things don’t have to be perfect anymore for me to take a deep breath and enter into life around me.
Friends, that’s huge for a recovering insecurely-attached-anxious-girl.
And if it can be true for me, I’ve got great news for you today – it can be true for you too.
We don’t have to be upended by messes. We don’t have to check out of life or throw in the towel when construction occurs. We can smile and take a deep breath because we know there is an end in sight.
I think that’s what I’ve learned these last seven years.
The mess won’t last forever.
The plastic that’s keeping everything under wraps will be lifted in just a short amount of time.
The dust that has everything covered in a thin film will be gone in a matter of days.
The disruption of a normal flow of schedule and time will come to an end.
And to take it even one step further, not only have I learned I don’t have to be upended by the mess, I have learned I can actually even embrace the mess and smile when it happens because I know it means change is coming.
The whole reason I was willing to endure holes in my ceiling was because our rooms were too dark. I was tired of sitting down with company at our dining room table and barely being able to see the food on my plate. I was weary of straining my eyes to focus on the person standing in front of me in our living room.
And I knew that unless I was willing to undergo the messiness of construction, my rooms were going to stay in darkness. Unless I was willing to have my ceilings cut wide open, my dining room table was never going to be flooded with light.
For change to occur, I had to be willing to embrace some mess in my life. And if that’s true in the physical realm, the same is true in the spiritual realm as well.
If you and I want the dark corners of our souls flooded with light, we are going to have to undergo some construction.
And I’m not talking about a one or two day inconvenience. I’m talking about a full blown mess. I’m talking about being wiling to sit down across from someone you know doesn’t like you, or that you’ve hurt, or who has hurt you, and hear some hard things as well as say some hard things. It might mean walking away from relationships you have relied on for a long time. It might mean moving cities or changing jobs or having the rug pulled out from under you with financial security. It might mean stepping into a new rhythm in a relationship that’s had some pretty awful dynamics for a long time and learning a new way to relate.
Can I let you in on something? It’s going to be messy.
The conversations are going to be hard. The apologies are going to be hard to speak. The dependence on the Lord instead of other people is going to feel like someone has cut a giant size hole in your heart, but the mess will not last forever. And the mess is going to lead to something good.
Because in the Kingdom of God, that’s how messiness works.
God cuts us wide open to sew us back together, whole and complete, once again.
He tears us to heal us.
Don’t believe me? Listen to the words of the prophet Hosea: “Come, let us return to the Lord; for He has torn us, that He may heal us; He has struck us down, and He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live before Him” (Hosea 6:1-2).
He saws us open, rips things out, puts new things in, and runs wires of life and light through our souls that were never there before so that we are better off than we were before.
But we don’t get lights in our ceilings or wholeness in our hearts without some mess.
So if you are going through a messy season in life right now (and lets face it – when are we not going through some sort of mess as long as we live on planet earth?), don’t despair.
Remember two things:
- Your mess will not last forever. There will be an end to the pain.
- Mess is always the prerequisite to change.
So don’t delay having that conversation or changing that pattern or taking a break from that relationship just because it’s going to be messy. It might have to be for a while. Mess doesn’t always equal bad. Mess can equal change is on the horizon. Those are big revelations for someone who absolutely freaked out whenever messiness was involved in the circumstances of my life.
But I’ve learned that no matter how big the mess, the strength of the arms underneath remains unchanged. God’s arms are always strong enough to hold our messes, kind enough to forgive our spills, patient enough to clean up our dust, and holy enough to call us to a higher standard than comfort.
More than He cares about our comfort, God cares about the holiness and wholeness of our hearts. Because of that, He is willing to saw through any barrier, cut through any obstacle, and hack through any dark space to flood His light through every crack, corner, and crevice of our dark and weary hearts.
He is too good not to.
He is too good to leave us in the dark, comfortable as we might feel.
He is will go to any lengths to kick out the cobwebs, turn on the lights, and walk us through the mess to the order, light, life and peace on the other side. So don’t fear messy days, messy weeks, messy seasons, messy conversations, or messy hearts. The Builder of Souls is in the room, and He will guide every mess to its final destination of wholeness, beauty, and peace for those who are surrendered to Him.
“There is none like God, O Jeshurun,
who rides through the heavens to your help,
through the skies in His majesty.
The eternal God is your dwelling place,
And underneath are the everlasting arms.”