Life is a mess. And I don’t mean that in a “hot mess” kind of way. It’s not even a reference to all the tragedy, unkindness, violence, hatred, shaming and simple evil we see all around us in recent and not-so-recent news. I mean life itself, the very essence of it…it’s a mess. It’s pieces piled together, twisted into connections and smashed into each other for better or for worse.
I know I’m sharing this as if it’s some sort of amazing revelatory thought, but in some ways, it kind of is. I sat down and had a great long talk with a good friend tonight. We covered some big topics. Family histories, current event tragedies, the role of social media in communication, our lives in relationship to social media, shame, social pressures, fitting in, ruffling feathers in the name of principles and loving people who might find us downright offensive. There was more, but those were the highlights. As I drove myself home, I reflected on how many caveats and nuances there were to our discussions. There just aren’t easy answers. And the more I mature, the more I realize there aren’t meant to be. Toward the end of our conversation, my wise friend reflected back on some of what we’d discussed and shared one summarizing thought: it’s easy to understand the impulse to pull away, to isolate and to batten down the hatches. Loving people is hard. “Yes,” I agreed. “And loving real people is harder.”
That’s just it isn’t it? I want my thoughts and actions to be so ethereally pure, so faultlessly driven and so unerringly correct that I needn’t think about them for more than a moment. But no, that’s not life; as my sweet husband says: “I’m pretty sure I’m right, but I was pretty sure I was right about some things a few years ago that I know now I was almost certainly wrong about.” My true heart’s desire to is love Jesus well; to show others that grace really can revolutionize a life in all the best ways. Some days, in some ways, that’s easy. Sometimes, it’s even simple.
Other days, in the rest of life’s gray areas, it’s not as straight forward. There are competing ideals, conflicting worthwhile agendas and people – unendingly flawed by definition – all jumbled up in the middle of it. Those days, if I raise my gaze and look outside the small walls of my own individual life, are most of them. So, I am deciding, at least for today, to embrace the mess. Walk boldly, with eyes to see, into the fray and jumble and open up your heart. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Take heart; He came for you. And He has never left you. Loving people is hard. Loving real people, brokenness and sharp edges, is even harder. Do it imperfectly; do it awkward, but do it. The mess will be worth the rest.