It is a funny thing scrolling through my instagram or Facebook feed. Virtually everyone is smiling, talking about something interesting going on, or raving about the amazing thing that just happened to them. Sometimes someone is ranting or complaining. And every once in a while, someone is sharing disappointing or hard news.
I get it. I do the same thing. I want to share the good times and remember the happy moments. Here and there I cannot help but wonder- “Am I the only one who doesn’t have my life all together?”
The picturesque life doesn’t really exist. It is a facade. No one can escape the realities of life. Life is full of disappointments, hurts, and messes.
I do, however, see a growing trend among people desperate to be happy and get everything in life that they want. They try to make life “mess-free” by planning everything, surrounding themselves with happy and successful people, hoping enough money and good times will make life just, full. They think enough cocktails and cute outfits and beautiful environments and vacations and celebrations will make life seem meaningful and worthwhile.
Some things can easily throw a wrench into this plan. A toddler, for example. Or an affair. Or those moments when you just feel so alone, so heartbroken, and so lost. And red wine and shopping sprees can only last so long before the dull heart pain sets in again. The great outdoors over a long weekend can only get you through so many days until you are back at a soul-numbing cubicle for forty hours.
The truth is, that growing trend of people I just described is me. I want my life to fit into a plan I dreamed up. I do sometimes think that if my home were more pretty and better organized I would be less stressed and more happy. (Which, when my home is clean I am more relaxed- the trouble is it doesn’t stay clean for long). I have often thought a new pair of shoes or a new dress would make me feel better. I have even believed that if I lost a few more pounds, had whiter teeth, and took better care of myself more people would like me.
I struggle with this, and my assumption is many women struggle with trying to keep up. So many social media outlets shove this filtered lie down our throats. Our cupcakes turn out like little aliens instead of coral flowers. Or our homes are messy and unorganized instead of pristine and put together like the lovely homes we covet.
Something I am finding as I grow older is that messy is often good.
Confrontation is messy. Confrontation often leads to reconciliation. Childbirth is messy. Childbirth is a miracle, and often leads to the birth of a deeper love than one has ever known. Marriage is messy. Marriage asks us to commit our lives to a person as messy or sometimes more messy than ourselves, for life, and to love and believe in that person even through many difficulties, triumphs, and trials. People are messy. People make mistakes, miss opportunities, and fail. People need one another, sometimes ask for help, and sometimes inconvenience us. Sometimes the people put in our lives change us and mold us in fantastic ways we never expected. Sometimes these are the most messy people of all- and they make beautiful masterpieces not with their hands, but with their hearts.
Avoiding messy situations for fear of appearing weak, being inconvenienced, or feeling awkward can many times stifle opportunities for me to grow as a person and deepen my relationship with a person.
When I observe the life of Jesus, I see that he was surrounded by messes. People with disease, leprosy, and disabilities. People who have cheated on their spouses, lied in courts, and stolen money from the poor. People who were heartsick, lonely, outcasts, and whores.
True fulfillment does not lie in my outer circumstances- what I wear, how much money I make, or what I am doing with my career. True fulfillment for me lies in the stature of my heart- am I content with my circumstances? It is a hard pill for me to swallow at times. While much of me wants to partake in earthly comforts all the time, to be distracted and pulled away from my hard pill and intoxicated by the world’s drama and gossip and frills- in the end I feel the disappointment once again. I yearn for reality, to be known and to be known, as I am- even as I am a mess.
There is a little girl in my life that is a complete mess. She eats with her hands and gets food all over her face. She often needs help going to the restroom and sometimes even wets herself. She loves digging her hands into dirt and playing with it shamelessly, allowing it to get in her hair and in her clothes. I have had to spray her down with water before. She has made me almost lose my patience and mind at times, demanding more of my being than I could have ever imagined.
That person is my two year old daughter. She is delightfully messy and needy, and I have never been more in love with a person. She brings out my need for order and control and then laughs at it.
Love is worth the mess. All of it. And there is nothing to hide.
I don’t want to keep up with anybody. I want to only rejoice in the many blessings around me. I am not without. I must remember that. Things perish, styles change, and money gets spent. The people in my life- the memories and moments I invest in them- these things matter significantly. And people are messy and wonderful, love is painful and beautiful, and change is scary and freeing. “I cry too, I hurt deep, and I am also a mess at times”, might be one of the most profound things another woman has said to me.