How to Find Beauty In The Mess

He went fishing.

Days before, we’d sat around a table of those to whom we’d entrusted the most broken parts of ourselves. He stared at his hands and I tried to look through the expressions of these ones who spoke tough love, wondering if they had hope for us. Could anyone have hope for us? The typed document from which they read, delivering strong but full-of-love suggestions for the health of our marriage and of our future family, was weighted paper. We weren’t little kids anymore.

How did we get ourselves here? I wondered, identifying with the woman who’d been dragged, half-dressed, before a sea of men who saw her sin and didn’t just hear about it. She couldn’t dress it up for them. Did she think back to when she was innocent and sin felt small?

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I’d done everything in my adult walk with God to avoid mess. My sin was tidy, explainable. I could share it with a Bible Study or over tea with a friend and not bat an eye. I was a Good Girl by most standards. Until I married this man. The pain of my life got pinned on the sin of another. I wasn’t so messy before I got married. He made me this way.

Days after this meeting that left my stomach feeling hollow, not hopeful, and as I realized that we’d really moved past juvenile offenses with our emotional dukes raised high towards one another — that we’d gotten to the point of needing outside intervention … he went fishing.

I couldn’t uncurl myself from the ache of this man who’d de-robed me.

All while he was fishing.

Chair

I groped in the dark and found the only thing I could to give me any perspective. I was either angry and fuming or reading Words that told me of another reality. His Word was my escape. For one of the first times, His Word felt beautifully other to me. So often it had been a tool I’d used to share with others. I came to it and through it with an air of strength and familiarity. I quoted it and taught from it as if I was on my way to mastery. “I got this!”

Though, this particular weekend, when I’d been unraveled, not just in my home but now before trusted friends, His Word came in sharp contrast to who I was and what I was living.

It was water and I was parched. Finally parched, after years of seemingly clean christian living.

Doorknob

I got up. Off the couch of my grief, and started speaking it. It read like German to me, there where I was. We had been strangers, me and God’s Word, and I never knew it. The girl who’d made a life of neat and tidy couldn’t climb into the pages of whores and beggars and the always-bleeding who always needed something. I’d neatly positioned my life not to need, not to lean. So of course it became “a great tool”. A resource. (You either breathe God’s Word because you’re desperate or it becomes your System For Better Living.)

The guy who went fishing made me desperate.

His sin uncovered my sin. His need-to-lean made me uncomfortable. He was unkempt and his mess threatened how I’d spent years positioning myself, in my own mind and before God and others. He exposed me.

That mess that we couldn’t just keep underneath our roof — that mess that got aired to our pastors and mentors — put me in the line-up of the whores and beggars and always-bleeding who always needed something.

I didn’t know that line-up and didn’t know those people, but quickly I began to learn that here, among the desperate, was where I wanted to be. I wanted to be them and if to be hungry I had to have my mess exposed, not tightly tucked out of sight, I was willing.

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So the fisherman came home living the Word I’d been reading.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m so so sorry,” he said with eyes on the ground.

Then he looked up at me from underneath heavy shoulders that had been bearing the weight of his wife’s expectations of perfection, and I saw something new. I saw life. A life that would grow, over years, well beyond what “neat and tidy” could ever accomplish.

He made me a true wife, in all of his mess: broken, hungry, desperate. In undeserved white. He put me before the throne, with his life (and his own beautifully unkempt hunger for God that got birthed right there,  in that unlikely season).

The mess I’d been avoiding my whole life had been the very invitation I needed into desperation for God. (And the desperate are the ones who find Him.)

FLower opened

I’m not the woman he married, he tells me all the time, with a spark in his eye. “You made me this way,” I say, in response.

His mess took the uniformed-girl in knee socks and plaid polyester and put her in the line-up of those that would open their eyes to a God-Man who doesn’t clean-up … but consumes.

Hey you, the one with a neat and tidy life that seems to be slipping through your fingers (the one who cringes at the thought of walking through what I describe),

Might the person you’re resenting or the circumstance that seems to be dragging you away from the life you’ve patterned be the very thing you need?

That son, that wife, that husband — that child you adopted — could it be they’re stationed, purposefully? Yup, right in their mess. Your mess. Could the end of “neat and tidy” be the beginning of passion and the pursuit of Him you’ve secretly always wanted but has evaded you whenever you’ve tried it on? Are you dragging a dustpan to the parts of your life that are mess — when He’s whispering in the background “this may be the greatest turning point in your story”? Find Me here.

Can I say it again? This may be the greatest turning point in your story.

Candles Cherish

For Your Continued Pursuit: Ephesians 5:23-33 | Deuteronomy 4:24 | John 8:1-11 | Psalm 42:1-5 | Revelation 19:6-8 | Song of Solomon 1:5 | Proverbs 24:16 | Romans 2:4 | Psalm 32:3-5 | 1 Timothy 1:15-16

First and sixth photos compliments of Cherish Andrea Photography. Second through fifth photos compliments of Mandie Joy. 

[And …have you read this yet? It may be just the reminder of Him, in your mess, that you need:

Book & Keys]

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