Ever been asked a simple question that stubs you in the toe and stops you in your tracks? I have. Just yesterday. It was, “I want to get to know you–so what’s your world look like?”
My reflexive thought was to keep it simple and syrupy sweet. Make it sound neat on paper when they’ll never see the mess in person. So I started to fudge, and then I didn’t. I quickly learned how to tell the truth in the middle of a mess.
I told it like it was even though I wish it wasn’t. By the looks of my surroundings, it’s pretty dog-gone messy. (And we don’t even own a dog.) The house, the kids, me. More me than the kids.
But then if you showed up on my doorstep, I’d quickly duck and dive, cram everything I could into a “neat little pile,” and then throw a towel over it. Just so you wouldn’t know what a real mess I am.
I have crayon on my walls and God’s red-letter handwriting all over the walls of my heart. The crayon went up, thanks to my then 3-year-old and 1-year-old girls, about the time I fell down and fell apart. Right after Mom passed and after a fall that left me in chronic pain and in constant chaos.
But why is it so hard to say that I live on the daily grace of Jesus and the ice packs in my freezer? Literally. That I find creative uses for those frozen toddler teething rings. In lieu of pills, I just pop one in the back of my pants. Yes, I’ve forgotten to remove them a time or two. Like in the grocery store when the lady said, “Um, m’am, something just fell out of the bottom of your pants.”
“Oh, my! Well, bless my heart! I don’t know how that got in there,” I respond. Then I glare over at my knee-hugging, little mess-makers and say, “Musta been the kids.” (Did I just say that? Maybe that was more of my world than you really wanted to see, but you get the point.)
Surely I’m not the only one who has a penchant for plastic smiles and a slither of fudge rather than dredging through a little bit of truth.
Why do we as women hesitate to give the messy truths and the authentic answers, muddied or not? We teach our kids to tell it, and then send them to the corner when they don’t. But then here we are sweeping ours out of sight and collecting our dust piles of truth in our own hidden corners.
Here’s the God-given truth. Jesus isn’t hanging out in the corners. He’s standing in the center of our chaos, and willing to plop right down beside us, if we let Him. And then, watch this, the One who breathed us from the dirt will also revive us from the ashes. He’ll exchange our mess for His beautiful message. One of hope and restoration. And cleansing and healing.
Then He’ll remind us of this the next time we’re stumped and tempted to fudge. He’ll point us to the deepest truth in the middle of a simple question so that we can truthfully reply in the middle of our mess:
Hi, my name is ____________(place your name here). For God so loved (my messy) world, that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever (that’s you and me) believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Now, can I ask a question? OK. I just did. Let’s make it two. What’s YOUR world look like? Scribble me an answer, crayons and all, and comment below. I told you mine, now you tell me yours. And remember to share with the mess-makers you love.
He will “provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:3
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to each other, for we are all members of one body. Ephesians 4:25
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1