My life is messy. My house is messy. Dirty dishes are piled up in the sink. Stains smudge the countertop. Half-completed projects are scattered on every flat surface in the house. There is honey on the floor, and somehow I always manage to step in it. Crumbs are my continual companions.
My laundry room is messy, with dirty clothes spilling out of the doorway. Sand and gravel litter the floor from a boy’s pair of jeans that have explored the great out-of-doors. Dust hovers around every corner, and spiders make their home there.
My yard is messy. There are dead leaves and forgotten toys scattered around. Abandoned forts and playhouses stand haphazardly around the yard. The grass is overgrown.
My mind is messy too. I can’t obtain the words that I need. My thoughts are unorganized. The wrong word seems to find its way out of my mouth first.
I love cleanliness. I love order. But somehow it seems to evade me. I want to have it all together . . . I really do . . . but I don’t. I’m tired. I feel like I’m trying really hard. I’m putting lots of energy into life, but it’s still messy.
It’s so easy to look around at others and conclude that they have it all together. It’s easy to assume their lives are perfect. No mistakes. No dirt. No complications. It’s a continual temptation to stack myself up next to those around me. And when I do, I come up short every time.
My past is messy too. My life is stained with jealousy, anger, frustration, weakness, and mistakes. I don’t have a clean past. It’s dirty. I can’t even seem to make it through one day clean. I lose my patience far too quickly. I judge too harshly. My pride puffs up in excessive amounts.
I remember the first time a well-meaning person let me know my house was messy. Maybe he thought he was doing me a favor. Maybe he thought I didn’t know. And come to think of it, I probably didn’t know. But I know now. He pointed out the cobwebs behind the curtain in our living room. He was right. There were lots of cobwebs and spiders making their home in my home.
But I felt embarrassed. He was our head elder. I felt small. I felt like a failure. Forever after, I knew that when stacked up against him and his house, I’d failed. The temptation of comparision was immediately embedded into my DNA.
This got me thinking about Mary, Jesus’ mother. Mary’s life was messy too. She was pregnant before marriage. She was the subject of the hottest gossip. She was viewed as a disgrace. In everyone’s eyes, she had messed up. Her mess-up was so bad she should have been killed. No one believed her outrageous story. She was Joseph’s second wife. She had stepkids to care for. The lines of her life were disjointed and complicated.
Mary’s shelter was messy. No clean sheets. No Febreze. No essential oils. No fancy cooked meal. No holiday cookies baked. No tinsel on the tree.
Mary’s delivery day was messy. Bloody, manure-stained. The floors were dirty. No one had mucked the stalls. They were too busy. The stable was messy. It matched her life. Her life was messy. Her dwelling was messy. Her relationships were messy. Her story was messy.
Then Mary became homeless. She and Joseph had to flee in an attempt to save her baby from a jealous king. When she looked around and compared herself to other women, she didn’t measure up. She fell short. Her life was so complicated! When she stacked up her life next to the neighbor women, she failed miserably.
I’m sure Mary wanted the perfect life. She wanted cleanliness and order. She wanted clean sheets. She wanted a warm bath. She would have liked the manure removed before she had to give birth to the King of the universe. She wanted perfection. But it kept escaping her. She wanted to have it all together, but it seemed as if everything was falling apart.
And yet from her mess came the greatest blessing the world could, and will, ever know. Out of her mess was born the Savior of the world! This mess, which she wanted to clean up but couldn’t, was what brought forth her greatest blessing. Her mess was the bedroom of the greatest gift the world will ever experience. Mary’s mess was the starting point of her own salvation.
Could it be that God can bring a blessing from our mess? Is our mess the means by which we receive hope? Does the mess help remind us of our need of a Savior? Stop trying to do better. Instead, rest in the knowledge that God will cover you in grace. God will use you in spite of your mess. God just wants your heart, your willingness.
Could it be that God uses the very mess we want to hide as our greatest blessing and means of reaching others? Oh, I hope so. I hope so because that is all I have to offer. My mess. I offer God my crumbs, my stains, my dirt, my spills, my losses, my mistakes, my mess. I offer what I have. I offer my weakness. I know that’s a strange gift, but I give it as a humble offering.
“God, please bless my mess. Will You take my mess as You did Mary’s and bring about my greatest blessing? God, will You bless the world around me through my mess?”