I’m a mess.
My house is a mess. My hair is a mess. My stomach is a mess because my diet is a mess. My planner is not a mess because I haven’t written anything in it for weeks.
And don’t assume when I say “mess” that I mean a couple of stray cups or socks or unpaid bills. No, I mean not having room to put down a bag of groceries because another day has passed without me loading the dishwasher. So the counters are full. Of dirty dishes. I mean I’m not totally sure my kids are wearing clean underwear, and I definitely don’t think they’re brushing their teeth on the regular. I mean hours spent staring into space or at a screen as videos roll on by, taking my motivation and window for productivity with them.
I’m a mess.
I’m writing this at my dining room table (that has a giant crack in it, by the way, but we haven’t had time to get it fixed) ignoring the candy bar wrapper sitting next to my laptop as if that wasn’t my breakfast on this, the millionth day I was going to start eating healthy. The unopened mail is on the other side of the bag of clothes that needs to be returned to the store before the store sends me a bill for the five dresses that didn’t fit. And the notes I scribbled in the middle of the night when an idea for this very article hit me? Well, I tossed them across the room when I realized they were nonsense, not brilliance, and all I had to tell you today is that I’m a mess.
But I think it might be okay if all I have to say this time is that I’m a mess. Because sometimes, we are messy. I’m a mess and I’m pretty sure sometimes you are too.
I’m a mess this time (Lord knows and you know, this is far from the first time) because after three months of crisis in my house — crisis that’s not fully resolved yet — I got a new job that has completely changed my family’s schedule and routines. It’s not even a full-time job, but as I recently told a friend, “I know it’s ‘just’ half-time, but I am full-time exhausted!”
My current mess is a mix of good things and bad things, hard things and things that are awesome but also, you guessed it, hard.
There are so many reasons we find ourselves in a mess, find ourselves being a mess, aren’t there? And, of course, sometimes we turn into a mess or find ourselves in a mess for no reason at all (or at least, no discernible reason). It can sneak up on us, little by little, or come out of nowhere like a life avalanche, dumping all the things on our heads at once. The mess can be tangible, with dirty dishes and mountains of laundry and missed appointments and forgotten permission slips. It can also be less visible, with intrusive thoughts and sleepless nights and irritation at the world at large and weariness that we just can’t shake.
Have you been there? You have, right?
Most of us have been a mess before and most of us will be a mess again. It’s the nature of being a messy human in this messy world. I suppose that’s a small consolation, knowing that feeling this way, being this way, isn’t abnormal and we’re not alone. But the bigger comfort is this:
Even when we are a total mess, we are not alone.
Recently I was chatting with a friend as we recorded a podcast episode, and she brought up Elijah. We laughed as we remembered the story of Elijah fleeing for his life. He was so distraught that he asked the Lord to take his life. Elijah was such a mess that it was too much for him. But rather than do as Elijah asked, God looked at this messy human and said, “Son, you need a nap and a snack!” (Yes, I’m paraphrasing, but you can read the story in 1 Kings 19.)
Now, hear me. I am not saying that all our problems can be solved with a nap and a snack. What I’m saying — to myself and to you — is that God is not surprised when we fall apart. He isn’t shocked or dismayed when we get a little or a lot messy. He doesn’t demand that we get our act together before coming to Him. And God doesn’t run the other way when we feel like it’s all too much — or when we are what feels like too much.
When we are an absolute train wreck, when our lives feel like they are spinning out of control or pressing down on us until we cannot breathe, when we’re a mess . . . we’re not alone. We’re not alone, because God is always with us.
Here are three promises you can cling to:
- The Lord is with us and He promises never to leave us. (Joshua 1:9)
- Our heavenly Father is not disappointed or annoyed or exhausted by our problems. In fact, He wants to take them from us. (Matthew 11:28)
- He is with us and He wants to help us, to make us strong again. (Isaiah 41:10)
If you’re a mess today, you’re not alone. I’m a mess, too — and God is with us both.