Monday nights are roommate nights. In an apartment of four people with wildly different schedules, it can be really hard to coordinate regular times when we get to hangout in a more intentional way than just gathering in the kitchen at midnight when we’re all finally home. So tonight my three roommates and I sat in Chick fil a for hours eating and laughing and telling all kinds of stories from long before we all became friends. (Turns out there’s a lot to learn about people when you’ve only been in each other’s lives for about 1 out of 20 years)
As we got in my car my roommate Lauren and I were laughing about how messy it was. Naturally, my room is often a direct reflection of that, and Lauren said it made her feel better about her room being a mess because she knew mine usually is, too. I laughed because I totally understood the feeling.
A lot of the time, I feel like my car is not only a direct reflection of my messy room, but also one of my messy life. I feel like the more and more I take on, the more chaotic it all becomes. There are so many days that my life feels like one big pile of old receipts and empty coffee cups. There are days when I look around and tell myself that I really should clean things up, but I know that no matter how many times I do, the mess always comes back.
And then, on top of all that, I really want to look like I have it all together. When I know someone will be riding in my car, I usually make an effort to throw everything in the trunk so they won’t realize how messy it really is. I like my life to look like everything is in its place, like there aren’t straw wrappers from last year under my seat and every jacket I’ve worn over the last two months filling the backseat. I like my life to look picked up and neat, so I cover up the mess – stress, insecurity, and sin included – hoping no one takes a second look.
On they way home, Lauren and I were talking about our rooms always being messy in high school, too, and she mentioned that she’d had a friend who had gotten in trouble for the same thing and asked her mom, “I don’t get it. What’s so bad about it looking like someone lives here?”
(I don’t know how well this would actually go over in my house, but when I think about it in relation to life, she makes a fair point.)
Life is messy. It is a busy, uphill battle more days than not. It is really great and really challenging and very, very lived in. You can only clean it up so much before it becomes more of a trophy than a home. Life is where you live and it is where you experience everything that makes you who you are. It will never be perfect because it wasn’t intended to be, so when someone peeks through the window, what’s so bad about it looking like someone lives there? Mess and all.
I’ve been reading the book Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (10/10 would recommend… but that’s another post entirely) and one of the quotes that has been stuck in my head for weeks is: “It is no good asking for a simple religion. After all, real things aren’t simple.” I feel like this fits here especially because life itself is so real, and so very not simple. And that’s okay, because to hope for it to be simple, would therefore be hoping for it to be unrealistic altogether. Knowing this, there is a strange joy to be found in all the little messes because that is where the realness and fullness of life is found.
It is in the throws of a broken heart that we realize how sweet and true love can be. It is in the times of total failure that we realize the courage in trying again. It is in the moments where everything around you looks like it was just thrown together, like one big mess of life, where we can meet with our Savior and see how loved we are by someone who is so much greater than you or me.
I’m sure you’ve heard someone say that Jesus will meet you in your mess. In my experience, when I hear that, I think, “Right… but let me clean up a little bit first, ya know, just in case.” I like to hide the things that are really just too messy for Jesus because I know he’s seen a lot of stuff, but this sin over here, yeah that’s not something I want him to see in my life. But I’ve come to think that maybe those are the moments when Jesus wants you the most. He carried his cross and hung upon it, so that we wouldn’t be doomed to an eternity in hell… He is willing to do whatever it takes to be near you. He is ready to walk head-on into the mess of your life, not just the mess once you’ve tidied up and covered the parts you don’t want anyone to see. He won’t ask you to overcome your insecurity or doubt or do all the things good Christians do before he gets there. No, he will come into the deepest parts of your mess and he will ask nothing from you because he just wants you and everything that entails.
So finally, if you’ve scrolled to the end of this post to see just exactly how long I rambled on tonight, there are two things I hope you remember because I think they were intended to be the whole point:
- You are not the only one drowning in the mess of your life. Take comfort like Lauren in knowing that, right down the hall, my room is messy too.
- Jesus will meet you no matter how buried you are under piles of shame and regret and heartache and struggle. He will meet you exactly where you are, over and over, every. single. day.