I am such a mess! Always! Why can’t I get it together? How can God use me when I’m such a huge failure?
This was my heart cry for so many years. I felt so messed up. So convinced I was broken and no one could fix me. Not even God. If He could fix me I was somehow messing up the process so He couldn’t.
I struggled to stretch my insecure, introverted self to go to a women’s retreat with the church. Other women had so much fun and got so much out of them.
The setting was beautiful. The lodge was in the mountains of Alaska, away from the normal busyness of life. Log walls and candles made the chapel so peaceful. Mealtime was in a stunning log lodge with beautifully set tables. I soaked up the worship and the teaching.
I felt left out and so out of place the rest of the time; like a kid who has no one to sit with in the lunchroom. The women were nice, they were glad I was there. I was too, and I wasn’t.
I braved sharing my struggle with one of the women. I wanted to grow and mature but I felt I was such a mess. I had terrible self-loathing and confusion. Her response was something about everyone struggling and it would be okay. I was devastated. I felt I had completely failed to communicate my struggle. I was so messed up I couldn't even get someone to see how messed up I was!
Even worse was when I got home. I returned to a clean kitchen, dinner prepared, even the kids room was clean. The kids were happy (my husband is amazing!).
I was more miserable than before I went. And I was miserable before I went or I never would have mustered the courage to go!
The peace of worship experience didn’t come home with me. The truth of the teaching didn’t change my life at the weekend. My husband did a better job keeping house than I ever do.
Years of desperation and crying out have taught me to embrace my mess and bring it to His Majesty. God delights in my coming.
That may be hard to swallow if you came from a family or church experience that always puts on a good face but it’s true. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (see Romans 5:8). In the mess, while we were enemies even, He died for us! He didn’t ask us to get our act together. He didn’t require anything. He paid the price with no guarantee anyone would take Him up on His offer.
In case you’re worried that embracing your mess means lowering your standards and becoming comfortable with falling short, that’s not what I’m talking about.
Embracing your mess is about honesty, with yourself, God, and others. God already knows. And He’s good with it! We think we’re hiding it. We think He’ll be so disappointed when He finds out. How crazy! He already knows and He loves us anyway.
Embracing your mess and bringing it to His Majesty allows God to transform you into someone who can find and carry His message. What is His message? At its simplest its “I love you as you are. Let Me love you and I will make you like Jesus.”
Trying to pretend we’re not a mess blocks His love and His healing.
Trying to clean up our mess on our own is exhausting and ineffective at best.
Am I going way out on a limb? I don’t think so. We’ll look at four women in the Bible who embraced their mess to find and carry God’s message.
Only one of these women are named, the other three are known by their story, maybe so it can be our story, too.