embrace mess

Around 3 years ago, I walked into my kitchen and found one of the biggest messes I had ever seen. I mean the cringe-at-the-prospect-of-cleaning-up kind of mess. The call in HAZMAT and maybe the Special Forces kind of mess.

You see, our then, five-year old had been given a creative kit from her Mamaw. Evidently she had a thing for  glitter sand, because it was everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE! All over the kitchen, on the table, the chairs, the floor. It was on her clothes, in her lap, all up in her hair, and stuck to her face. There wasn’t an inch of glitter-free surface anywhere around her.

Now some of you might be thinking how creative and cute that must have been. Your first reaction would be to grab your phone and snap pics for Instagram. But when I walked in, it was anything but cute to me. You see, I am a bit of a control freak. (Some of you that know me are saying, “Only a bit?”) Anyway, the first thought that entered my mind was, “You have made a complete mess! Don’t you know glitter is almost impossible to clean up?!” What a mess; what a burden; what a nightmare!

As I was about to shout…uh…say… something, God spoke clearly to me: “Don’t you say a word.”

I stood there, shocked, looking at my daughter playing, imagining, creating, enjoying the messiness of my glitter-stained kitchen. When she finally noticed my presence and looked up at me, she said, “Look, Daddy, I’ve made everything beautiful with my colored sand.”

Chocking back my emotion, I softly replied, “Yes, you have.” Then she climbed down out of her chair at the kitchen table, walked over to me and said, “Dance with me, Daddy. Dance with me in my colored sand.” Remember, this stuff was everywhere…EVERYWHERE…including the floor.

So there I was, staring at the glitter disaster with a couple of options. I could have told her what I was thinking, that she had made a huge mess and we had to get it all cleaned up just to eat dinner at the table again (control freak, remember). I could have easily (and possibly rightfully) punished her for making such a mess with her glitter. Or, I could embrace the messiness and dance with her.

And again, God said softly, “Enjoy this moment with her.” So I danced. I danced with my daughter. I embraced the messiness of that glitter-covered kitchen. And that day I learned an invaluable lesson from my five-year-old.  A fun-loving, care-free little girl.

You see, we have the same choice everyday of our lives. We can choose to embrace our frustration and lash out at those things that disrupt our lives. That’s typically how we’re programmed to react, anyway. Or, we can embrace grace and dance in the messiness of life…something that is often learned from the most surprising of people and situations.

Now, a year later, this moment continues to help me embrace my knowledge that I am not whole. What I mean by that is that I have two fabricated hips. Hips made of resin and steal and ceramic. My original hips fell prey to disease, and I had to have them both replaced. But instead of denying the fact that life has become almost overbearingly messy for me, I have learned that losing a part of my body has helped me gain a part of my soul.

Oddly enough, I dance better now with fabricated hips than I did with my original hips. In reality, I am more whole now than I was before.

I dance better through the ups and downs of life with a new understanding and appreciation of the grace of God. It is grace to go through pain and suffering and come out stronger, wiser, and more humble. It is grace when the chaos in our lives causes us to better care for ourselves and others.

I have learned that we can enjoy the reality that messiness is more normal than perfection. Until Jesus Christ returns to fully redeem our lives and this world, we must learn to embrace messiness. We learn that we only see through the glass dimly, but one day we will see clearly. We must embrace each others’ quirks and messy problems, allowing grace to reign, learning to dance through it all.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. (Romans 8:18-25, NKJV)

How about you? What’s your story? What deep truths about grace have you learned from the messiness of life? Please share with us. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony!