But aren’t Christians supposed to have it all together?
By Patty Brown
I love our church’s new LifeGroups t-shirts! It says “Life’s Messy. Don’t Live It Alone.”
Isn’t that so true? Life is messy! Life is full of all sorts of pain and sorrow (and joy too!) And – contrary to what the average person may think – believers in Jesus are not exempt from life’s messiness. In fact, Jesus made it clear that we would have trouble in this world.
I recently had an experience with my messy life shortly after arriving in Seattle for a vacation to visit friends and family. You wouldn’t expect that “vacation” and “emotional meltdown” would occur in the same situation, but that’s what I experienced. I’m not sure if my emotional crisis was compounded by finding out that our daughter’s chronic kidney disease had moved to yet another stage, realizing that I had recently gained weight that I vowed I would never put back on, or the stress of preparing for both a senior and freshman in high school, but I broke down!
Upon arriving in Seattle, my daughters and I stayed with my sister Shawn. This sister never ceases to have our rooms ready: beds made with luxurious sheets, complete with fluffy pillows and comfy quilts. In addition, there is always an incredibly beautiful bouquet of her homegrown flowers sitting atop a dresser in the room.
Due to a series of unforeseen events toward the end of that week, I felt pressured to move from Shawn’s house to stay with another sister. When it was time to stay with that sister, nothing was prepared: no beds (literally – no beds). There weren’t even any air mattresses in the room. I can’t explain what happened to me emotionally when I walked into that empty room, but the dam holding back all my pent up emotions burst and I completely lost it. Both anger and sadness took over and within a short period of time I was telling my girls to pack their bags because we were going to go stay at a hotel. I’m embarrassed to admit that, but it’s true. I was in out-of-control mode and couldn’t seem to stop the rollercoaster from gaining speed.
I’m relieved to share that the meltdown didn’t take the girls and me to the nearest hotel. After sitting in the car for a while asking the Lord to help me get a grip, and talking to my husband Jack on the phone, I settled down. I had plans to meet friends for a Broadway show that night and although puffy-eyed and exhausted from crying, I went. I thank God for girlfriends! By the time I returned “home” that night, there were air mattresses in the room with linens and pillows. It continued to be a little awkward with my sisters. I think mostly because of my embarrassment for breaking down the way I did and feeling like a really bad Christian witness.
Aren’t Christians supposed to have it all together?
After returning home and having time to pray and reflect, I now understand part of why I reacted the way I did.
Feeling like one sister was asking me to leave her place and the other sister didn’t really want me brought up something I thought I had long gotten over: abandonment. Wow! It hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m always amazed how the Lord continually reveals areas in my life where I’m in need of a deeper level of healing.
My mom and dad separated when I was two and divorced when I was four. I’ve gone through years of counseling for all sorts of stuff that happened during my childhood, including the abandonment issue with my dad. He didn’t want to leave. He actually fought the divorce for two years. But in the mind of a four year old, if your daddy leaves, it’s because he wants to leave and you are most likely the reason. I had a long conversation about this with my dad years ago and we worked through it before he went to be with Jesus, so it’s not been an issue with me—or so it seemed.
I know that spiritual growth is a process, but I hate that there will always be areas where I need to mature. That often includes repentance, forgiveness, acceptance, and perseverance. Yet I’m so thankful that Jesus doesn’t leave me alone. Not only is He always with me, He gives me others who are willing to walk alongside me. Thankfully, my sisters still love me and Shawn has already planned our annual sisters trip together in the spring.
I know Jesus still loves me too, and that’s what makes living this “messy life” worth it.
Because in truth, my messy life gives Jesus tons of opportunities to reveal just how amazing He is!
Romans 8:6 says, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”
What peace-giving revelation is Christ trying to teach you through your current mess?