Because some of life’s most precious moments
are found in the messiest moments.
Once I committed myself to Why This Blog, and that I would do it, the next hardest part was what on earth to name it. I knew lots of names it wouldn’t be, like: “The Shannon Doyle Blog” or “Look at How Well I Have My Life Together Blog” or “I Have So Many Great Pinterest Ideas to Contribute Blog”. I had to have a name in order to get the blog ball rolling. But nothing was jumping out at me that wasn’t too abstract, cliché, or already taken.
So I took a nap. It lasted a mere 33 minutes, when I abruptly awoke with “In The Messy” rolling over my tongue. And “Because That’s Where Life Happens” thumping on my heart.
There are many reasons why messy fits my life, on multiple levels. Here are a handful, skimming the literal surface then diving deeper.
I am a messy person.
At any given time I have like 14 piles of papers on multiple surfaces. I get analysis paralysis and don’t know where to start, so I just walk away (it’s much easier that way). I hate to dust. I deplore putting laundry away. My clothes live in piles on my floor, my chair, my closet, my basement. I walk by clutter (or egads, even trash) on the floor over a dozen times before I finally succumb to it and put it where it belongs. (Mark likes to see how long it will take for me to do this. It’s a cute little game we play.) But allowing myself to be messy gives me the time to actually do more living. So, I survive by enjoying life while living in my messy.
My kids are messy.
They love being dirty. Like really love it. My own messiness helps me accept (and even embrace) their messiness. All three of them are creative, imaginative kids. If I squelch their messiness, I might squelch their creativity. Right? At least that’s what I tell myself. And I won’t go into detail regarding their bedrooms. (In my mom’s defense, she did teach me to straighten my room and expects me to teach my children as well. I am working on that one.) But time and time again, the messiest times for my kids are the ones I see them really living…and loving…LIFE. Truly experiencing childhood means getting lots of dirt under the fingernails.
Our dog is messy.
This is Moz, our 2-year old English Springer. She is definitely messy. Absolutely without a doubt, Moz is loving life most when she’s messy. Life just isn’t as meaningful if you’re always clean.
Wading a bit deeper into “the messy”.
One of the current authors / bloggers whom I love the most is Glennon Doyle Melton, of Momastery. She writes about how life is messy, which is so much of what makes it beautiful. EXACTLY. The first time I read her words about being messy, I had literally thought right beforehand about how messy my home was, how messy (unorganized) I was, how messy my car was, but also how that’s okay. I live my life and spend time on what I feel is meaningful, and I leave the rest unattended at times. So if there are dust bunnies the size of cats on my floors, toothpaste skid marks the length of Niagra down my sinks, and my children’s handprints from last month on my glass doors, that is okay. I am needed more elsewhere, and so I spend time elsewhere. And it’s obviously not in my children’s bathroom…
And about it being okay to be messy? An image was being shared around Facebook recently; I think I even shared it myself (I lose track; I post so often). But I altered it a little:
As much as I cringe when a friend unexpectedly drops by and sees my messiness, I don’t pretend to be someone I’m not (okay, maybe 20% of the time I might). Rather than feeling ashamed of my messiness (faults), I am trying to embrace it. The Truth is often messy. And sometimes messy hurts. But it’s better than a shiny Lie that bullies and eventually destroys. Told you I was going deeper.
Diving into the deep, messy spiritual stuff.
There is one Person into whose hands I place my messy life. And He says it’s okay to be messy, because He has plenty of grace to cover it. I trust that He is there in my messiness–working in and through it, actually using it. I believe his word is Truth and therefore trust him–just as his first Apostles trusted him:
“Our faith is a Person; the gospel that we have to preach is a Person; and go wherever we may, we have something solid and tangible to preach, for our gospel is a Person. If you had asked the twelve Apostles in their day, ‘What do you believe in?’ they would not have stopped to go round about with a long sermon, but they would have pointed to their Master and they would have said, ‘We believe Him.’” ~ Charles Spurgeon
So here’s my lightning bolt: Those twelve Apostles–the ones to whom God entrusted the spread of His Gospel to the ends of the earth? Well, The Twelve Were Messy. I mean, look at some of them:
- There’s Matthew, the tax collector who (by nature of his profession) was despised. Tax collectors = infamous for being crooked and embezzling money. Messy.
- There’s the zealot, Simon. Zealots were Jewish nationalists who hated the Roman occupation of Israel; they were known for starting murderous riots and revolts. (I can hardly blame them; the Romans were jerks then.) Messy.
- And then there are Andrew, James, Peter, and John– a bunch of simple fishermen. Fishing in ancient Israel was not an easy occupation; it was difficult work with long hours. Fishermen were not very educated, either. Somewhat Messy. (Mostly Smelly.)
- And then there’s Judas. I mean, seriously? Maybe (ironically) the most well-known of the Apostles, betrayed the one who loved him with a kiss, and for 30 pieces of silver handed Jesus over to be arrested…leading to his crucifixion days later. That is Extremely Messy.
So why would Jesus selectively choose such a dysfunctional lot for his Apostles? Commentators agree that Jesus wanted to show that God could choose the least of us (the messiest) and use us for good things. Beautiful things. Eternal things. Most of us grow up with the impression that The Twelve were these godly men who could do no wrong–that we could never live up to their ministry. How far from the Truth is that?! God’s power is revealed and made perfect in our weakness. That’s where GRACE shows up. The grace of God is sufficient for us. Any of us. Especially the messiest of us!
Jesus didn’t choose his Apostles based on their social status or political views. He wasn’t concerned with their degrees or their education, even their spiritual knowledge or piety. (On the contrary, Jesus called out the most pious–the Pharisees– as hypocrites, like ‘white-washed tombs’. Ouch!) Instead, Jesus chose the everyday people–realistic, tough, flawed, ordinary people–to do the extraordinary. Throughout history, God has chosen the unlovely to bring to light the Lovely. And He invites us to follow in their messy footsteps. So if finding life In The Messy and then sharing that life with the world is good enough for the Son of God, then it is without a doubt good enough for messy me.