Everything is out of order. Yes, the laundry is heaped by the laundry door in spilling over piles. Yes, the dishes undone outnumber those clean. Yes, the floors bear a thick coat of... stuff. But it's more than that.
My house is a certified wreck. Half my kitchen cabinets don't have pulls. I use spatulas to pry them open. I have boxes the size of couches in my living room. My kitchen floor is gone, replaced with days and days of dust. Finally we have outlet covers, but for a while we didn't and would occasionally get shocked turning on a light. Did I mention we're missing lights?
We're living in the middle of a monstrous mess. A mess we made on purpose.
See, my house had some problems that needed fixing. The floor wasn't level and the tiles would crack. Our paint was getting old and chipping at the corners. We only had one place for guests to sit down...
We're of the belief that when you have problems needing fixing you should fix them (if you can). Christmas break seemed just the opportunity to get fixing. I was eager to make the house better. What I didn't realize was how much worse it would get before it got better.
A lot worse. It got much, much worse.
The other day, sitting on a kitchen chair in my basically empty except for boxes (and Styrofoam and plastic packing stuff and children's shoes) living room, struggling to find peace (or hope) in my mess, I started thinking about intentional messes, the messes we have to make in order to make things better.
I thought of confession, of overturning the bucket of gross stuff in my heart, watching it spill all over the floor. I thought of things I'd told my husband knowing he'd be hurt, knowing we'd fight, knowing it would make life harder today--hoping it would make life easier in a year.
I thought of conversations I finally broke down and forced myself to have with people I'd been quietly resenting for years. I relived those conversations, the tears and anger and the following days of silence, hoping this wasn't the end, that maybe we could start over.
I thought of relationships that had to be ended. Of watching friends endure painful, can't-get-out-of-bed-even-though-this-was-my-idea breakups, watching them pull themselves away like pulling duct tape off drywall. Messy.
I thought about friends who'd quit jobs, jobs consuming their lives, robbing their families of a mother or father only to find themselves out of work, struggling to make ends meet, exhausted from the search for something better.
These are the messes we make on purpose, praying, hoping, trusting that God will lead us through the mess. Believing that what's on the other side is worth the hassle, the upheaval, the uncertainty and the pain.
Because it is.
I wish I had an "after" picture to put here, to show you how worth it all the mess was in my home repair pursuit. I don't. Because I'm in the middle of it. In fact, when I finish this post I'll have to put my shoes on so I can go do the dishes without cutting my feet open on a tile edge. But that's okay. I'm hopeful. We have a plan. We're working hard...
In terms of the other stuff--the bigger on-purpose messes, the ones inspired by God--I can't promise those messes will clean up quickly or smoothly. Sometimes they will. Sometimes they won't. One of my best friends is in the middle of a seven year long mess. She has a plan. She's working hard. She's still hopeful.
And she should be. Because messes made in pursuit of God are messes worth making. Because unsettling and upheaving and uncovering are sometimes what it looks like to let God be in charge. And when God is in charge, everything is better.
Today, I'm praying we'll brave the mess, that we'll step boldly into what we know will be uncomfortable and yucky and maybe, for a little while, miserable, and that we'll do it knowing that wholeness, holiness, and healing are on the other side.