Living in the Mess

Life is messy. That is why we love those DIY shows. They take a mess and make it beautiful in an hour or less. But in real life,  the mere act of painting a bathroom will likely take at least a week for the average person. There is the prep, the edging, the clean up, and a million interruptions in between. Trying to fit a home renovation into a work schedule means that your room will be a disaster for some time. To achieve beauty, you have to live in the mess.

The same is true for decluttering. Sure you can do a drawer a day and make slow consistent progress. But every once and a while you need to turn a room upside down and make a mess. And at some point, you will likely run out of time or energy before you have run out of mess. So what do you do? Shove everything back into different boxes and corners so it looks better, or do you sit with the mess for a while? This happened to me recently. Since I had some bins and boxes that just didn’t fit anywhere, they had taken up residence in my dining room. Unable to take it anymore, I transported them to the kitchen table near the bookcases into which they would have to assimilate. I started sorting, making piles, and tossing, until I realized it was dinner time. I had a choice to make. Tidy up the mess I had made or just leave it there. I know myself enough to know that if I shoved it out of sight it would definitely have been out of mind, and I didn’t want that. I needed this to be dealt with.

Version 2


Thankfully I have a laid back husband who knew this had to be. So I left it. Everywhere. And then I lost motivation. I was tired, hormonal, overwhelmed and had a million things to do- important stuff like trying to save the world on twitter or writing a blog that no one would read.  Regardless…..I couldn’t make myself do it-for nearly a week. I would move a piece here or there, but overall the mess stayed the same. Until I decided to do something. Just do SOMETHING. I told myself. So I did. And like a typical ADD person, I hyper focused, and got it done. Mostly.



Yes, it’s way better, but no I didn’t finish my room. I tossed a lot, I sorted a lot, and I organized a lot. But I didn’t finish. And that’s ok. I made progress.And I didn’t shove. You may think it looks great, but I know there are papers and bins in those bookshelves that still need to be dealt with.

All too often when we are surrounded by messy feelings, inside and out, we want to shove them away and not deal with them. Especially in the Christian community. Some people go so far as warning that you should never speak negative words for fear that you will bring it to pass. What a prison to live in- never being able sort through your feelings because you are afraid you will make something bad happen by verbalizing it! Even if you are not that extreme, there are only a few people, if any, that are comfortable with being around other peoples’ mess. Some will rush you through your feelings because they don’t think you should be feeling them “still.” Some will suggest you think happy thoughts instead, shoving pain away instead of working through it. Some will want to pray away your emotions without letting you feel them for a moment. Some will even push you away completely because your mess makes them so uncomfortable. I have been guilty of all of these reactions.

While I know that I was better off leaving the room chaotic for a little while,  I do admit that when it comes to the mess in our hearts, there is a fine line between sitting in your pain with a purpose and wallowing in your wounds without direction. The Bible does tell us to think on things that are holy and noble, but we also read the psalms and see a man painstakingly working through his emotions, sitting for a moment to deal with the pain in his heart rather than pretending it is not there.

I want to be the kind of friend that can sit with someone in their mess, allow them to work through it, and cheer them on in their success. Of course there is the contingency that the mess is actually being acknowledged and worked on. If I had left the room in disarray for years, added to the clutter, and blamed others for the disaster, then there would definitely be cause to bring in a bulldozer. And that is the material point. Without humility, and true repentance, the mess would have been meaningless. But because of my track record over the last year, my sweet, long-suffering husband knew that this mess was a sign of progress.

I am so thankful for a husband and close friends that have sat with me in messy places and allowed my heart to feel. I know there is much to be learned in this place, and I refuse to miss seeing God’s glory, just to make others, and even myself, feel more comfortable.

Psalm 42

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One[d]
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
6 My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
8 By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

6 thoughts on “Living in the Mess

  1. This exact analogy happens to me all the time. Physically and emotionally. It is difficult to see someone else’s mess to sit around for long periods of time being ignored. After loving suggestions, offering to help and guiding to the Lord for Direction, how can I help that person clean up the mess that is affecting my life.


  2. So it just took me three months to put a vanity , mirror, and new light in my bathroom. I still have touch up painting to do. Thanks for being real. Feelings can get messy before they get sorted out and cleaned up for sure. I never want to be in that prison . Thanks again.


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