I have been a little overwhelmed with all the scattered, random thoughts in my head. I feel like I have been learning a lot, but can’t really organize it well. I’ve been trying to write something cohesive and it has not been happening. Maybe it is because I’m reading Bird by Bird and Anne Lamott is teaching me about writing SFD’s (“crappy” first drafts – you can infer the actual name). Combined with how my life circumstances have been recently, it just feels like nothing is totally coming together. I am learning how not okay I am with this. I am not okay with messy. I prefer neat and tidy and pretty-packaged everything. I am okay (most of the time) with other people being a mess, but my life? That’s not allowed. Ideally I would never embarrass myself, have it all together, and never be wrong. My home and heart would both be clean, constantly.
But then the Lord whispered to me one night as I tried to fall asleep: What if you started telling people the truth?
Well, Lord, quite frankly, that feels as if you are accusing me of lying. Which, well, I suppose I probably am.
But if you must know, I would rather not because I have become awfully good at hiding things that would make others feel uncomfortable or would cause conflict. I am a middle child, through and through. I’m trained to bring peace and to suppress opinions and feelings. I’ve become an expert at avoiding ever being a burden.
But, oh – the gospel. The gospel was (and is) pretty darn messy. There were a lot of opinions and hurt feelings. There were betrayals and conflict. It was anything but tidy. It is the story of a single guy in his thirties who revolutionized love and relationship. He did not just come to give us rules to live by so that our lives wouldn’t be messy anymore, He came in and messed up everything we ever knew. He said that the unlovable were loved, the diseased were worth healing, and that the brokenness of the world could be rescued and redeemed – through a painful death and a world-shattering resurrection.
And the gospel is supposed to impact our lives. It is what they are supposed to be about. So my life is messy – and it should just be allowed to be messy. Because we find so much beauty in the mess. We find true connection in vulnerability. We find hope and reconciliation in conflict. I’m realizing that no relationship ever improved or benefited from suppressing and stuffing down feelings, and many have improved and benefited from telling the truth.
So more than anything, I am learning how to show up – in all situations, family, friends, work, writing. I am practicing telling the truth because it is what we were called to do, and it is hard but it is holy. And it is how freedom happens. We have to trust that our people will love us no matter what, in our mess and out of it. We have to decide that anyone who runs from our truth is not deserving of hearing it.
Your mess is allowed, as you figure out what it looks like to show up in your circumstances. As you learn what it looks like for you to tell your truth, it isn’t going to be pretty or clean. It may require a lot of clean up afterwards. But it is kind of like leaving old leftovers in a Tupperware for too long because cleaning it will be gross – the longer you leave it the worse it will be. You’ve got to just clean that crap out. Tell the truth.
So here is to the mess – to making it, and being in it, and turning it into something beautiful. Here is to telling the truth, to being true to ourselves regardless of how others respond. Here is to finding the soul-friends who are not just willing to handle our truth but who hold it with gentleness and care. Here is to showing up and being ourselves in any and all circumstances.