I haven’t written my Sunday blog for a few weeks now because life has been a bit crazy, but today I am ready to get back on the blog train. I have blog entries I have “written” in my head that I wish I could just easily download to my computer, but that is where writing becomes more a labor of love because it isn’t that easy. I really do love writing, though. It forces me to flesh out what I’ve been thinking, and helps me to clarify my thoughts. Writing also immortalizes thoughts, and can be a gift to others whereas thoughts unshared can never be a blessing (unless they are bad thoughts, which I try not to blog about:) Okay, so topic of the day: postive perspective on messiness. Glorious mess. Worthwhile chaos.
I have written a bunch of times about the bible study I am in at church, and how we are studying the book of Job in the Old Testament. One reason I have enjoyed this study so much is because of the way the actual discussion is formated. We are all assigned tables for discussion & have a table leader who helps facilitate the discussion. We also have a large group teacher who leads us in some deeper thoughts on the passage we are studying, and gives guiding questions for our discussion (all that by way of maybe unnecessary intro). I have really enjoyed hearing the wisdom and life experiences of the women who sit at my table. Most recently a friend at our table talked about the mess her husband continues to make in the kitchen, even after she cleaned it up. She mentioned how he is always thinking of new ideas, wanting to make something new or just decides it is time for a fruit cake. This friend said she hates the continual process of cleaning up (after him, or anyone), and that sometimes she just wants clean counters. But here is wisdom. As she was talking about this desire for clean countertops, she brought up that the busyness of her husband was actually examples of life taking place. His projects & cooking happened because he if full of life. It is in the moments of life that her kitchen gets dirty, and yet life is what we all want. I might not be explaining this exactly right, but the thought that really stood out to me was that when life happens, it is messy. I have the same desire, but it isn’t just for a clean kitchen but a clean & organized house. I hate when there is stuff stacked on any free space, cereal all on the floor, even when my hangers face the wrong way (that is a little crazy, I know). I love the feeling of waking up and getting coffee in a clean home, but I am reminded of reality as I trip over matchbox cars lined up on the floor.
So here it is <insert main point>: When life takes place, it is messy and somewhat disorderly. Life enjoyed is not in clean and organized all the time. Life freely lived is not bound by constant concern for making sure nothing around you is disrupted. This is true about your home, car, purse, work, but mostly and more significantly… relationships. But first the home, car, purse thing.
You can live in a perfectly orderly environment as long as nothing ever gets used or others are never invited into it. My house could be perfectly clean as long as no one uses the toilet or showers, eats, or enjoys anything around the house (except by just looking at). And even if they look at something, better not sit on the couch because you will make the couch look too slouchy when you get off of it. In contrast, if your home is a haven for others to rest, enjoy company, have fun, then you will have slouchy couches, probably dishes to put away, and toys around. This doesn’t mean you have to leave them out and never clean up, but it does mean that order will be disrupted for something greater, and that you aren’t obsessed with the order and blocking any enjoyement of life.
My greater concern is how this applies to relationships in life. I was just talking with a friend about how most of us “just don’t want to stir the pot.” We want relationships to be pretty uneventful and “peaceful,” even if that just means we harbor bitterness inside but since we don’t talk about it, things are okay. We don’t want to stir the relational pot. But here’s the deal: those kind of relationships are lifeless (just like the perfect house that is really not a place for life but possibly dead plants). Relationships, if they are not stagnant and lifeless, are messy. Because the mess happens when life take place. The best example is to look at the relationship between husband and wife. A marriage relationship where thoughts, hopes, fears, dreams are not discussed are pretty quiet and “good” relationships in that there is no rocking the boat, but cordial agreement to live without real interaction. Those kind of relationships aren’t a mess because there is no real significant activity or evidence of life between the two. But it is in the sharing of ideas & plans, hopes & fears that real life and intimacy takes place. Your relationship can actually grow and become new things in this setting as you struggle and wrestle through tough topics and perservere to love each other in the midst of it. Real relationships are messy, but the mess can lead to greater life.
The way that I seem to miss the concept the most is in my relationship with God. Sometimes I am surprised when my relationship with God is messy and I have lots of questions and frustrations. I think that it isn’t supposed to be that way. I think I should just have a grateful heart and pay my respects to the Almighty, and that way keep God at a safe distance. But if my relationship with Jared includes struggles that lead to better understanding and intimacy, how much more so in my relationship with God? Jesus calls us friend in his final recorded prayer before his death (” No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, forall that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15). Jesus is saying that we are actually friends of God, not merely servants who are to obey some tasks but part of his inner circle, intimate allies of God. We are called to live in a close relationship with God, and because humanity has some core heart problems we call sin, all relationships humans enter into are messy (including the relationship with God). So as God calls me his friend, I realize that I called to enter into the mess of relationship with God. I am not only his friend, but daughter as he adopted me as God the Father through killing his only son on my behalf, to forgive and bring me in. So I am relating to God as his friend, daughter, and even more mysterious that either of those, through the church as his bride. I feel like I need to explain all the theological reasons we as the people of God are called his bride, but because other people on the internet do a much better job I will just leave it at this. We, as those who love and trust in Jesus, are called the bride of Christ to experience union with God in Heaven. This engagement and marriage is a picture to us that the deepest relationship we experience with God is even closer than marriage! So back to the original point, that if my relationship with my husband is messy, than how much is the relationship with the Lord that is even greater than that relationship!
That seemed like a lot of jumbled words, but that is probably just the way I’m thinking about this. My relationship with the Lord is not neat and tidy, where I attempt to just not stir the pot because I want there to be “peace.” No. God calls me to cry out to him, to cast my cares upon him for he cares for me (1 Peter 5:7), to wrestle with the Lord until he blesses me (like Jacob in Genesis 32), to ask & let your requests be made known to God (Phil. 4:7). I think of the relationship the disciples had with Jesus, and how it was a big mess! Peter reveals his foolishness in telling Jesus not to go the cross & die, arguments happen about who gets to sit next to Jesus (sounds like a family cartrip), and Jesus is constantly having to confront them with their sins and redirect them towards life. And yet this is what Jesus calls people to do: to follow him, not staying at distance and being disengaged from life with God, but coming to him and abiding. It is the ultimate mess relationship when the perfect, sinless God interacts and loves the imperfect, sinful man. And yet this is the mess that God sent his son to enter into. He chose this mess, and he pursues and desires to engage with us in it. Like he says, he desires to be the great physician to those who are sick (i.e. to be the counselor & healer to messy humanity). No clean countertops here until heaven, but he is progressively wiping away the mess of our hearts and creating space where he can dwell.
I think this can be encouraging for me to remember because I often think things are good when nothing major is happening or bothering me, and especially in my relationship with Jared & God. And yet what the mess teaches us is that it is evidence of life taking place, of a lively relationship where real growth can happen. If my relationship with the Lord is pretty uneventful, than a lot of times it means I am really not entering into his presence, listening to his word, praying through my desires & fears with him. My relationship is uneventful and stagnant with Jared when I haven’t spent time with him and we are just co-existing while doing other things apart from each other. My house is clean when we are out of town (maybe) or simply when we aren’t there. I desire clean countertops, but I know that cars on the floor, books piled on the kitchen table, and a dirty carpet are signs that my home is not a muesum but a place where people interact and attempt to love each other, which is infintely more valuable.
So my hope is that I won’t fret everytime I can’t seem to keep the house clean, or when I feel uneasy and need to pray to see and worship God more clearly, because these are indicators that redemptive activity might be taking place. I want that most. I want Ethan to know that special time with mommy is more important than organized shelves, and for God to know that I want to know him better and be more like him, even if that means I have to experience the pot of my soul being stirred so he can show me new things and change me. Thankfully that is what he does as I live in relationship with him. God is gracious to stir up my circumstances to show me that I need to make decisions that allow more quality time with my family and creator. That is pot stirring. God gives me friends who help me see things in my life that are not honoring to God, and this momentary mess brings about a cleaner heart in me learning to live differently.
Okay, so the mess is worth it… I promise to never clean my house again:)