A few years ago a woman sat in my living room, sobbing and trying to choke out words and apologies for her inability to regain control. Though we didn’t know each other well, she desperately feared growing old without a husband. Long before Carrie Underwood’s song, “Cry Pretty,” was written, I witnessed in myself and others that “You can’t cry pretty.” We love looking at the camera when we’re smiling or laughing, but who wants a picture taken when tears stream down her puffy, red face?
Somehow we easily begin to foster the image of the sanitized person, ignoring the reality that we live in this world, affected like everyone else, by its brokenness. As I think back over almost 70 years of being different, unable to do many activists other kids did, I realize I got a jump start on dealing with life from a particularly odd angle. My “messy,” like this rescued owl’s, was quite visible. Oh, I found ways to hide some of my “messy” in matters that didn’t involve physical strength and agility; my attempts to appear all together involved school work, singing, teaching, and leading Bible studies. In virtually every situation, my pride lay at the root of the each facade.
And that, my friends, is the messy we can’t hide from the One who sees our hearts. He has told us no heart can be trusted; deceit and desperate wickedness lie at our core. Antithetical as it sounds, acknowledging our utter brokenness to the Lord unfetters us.
No longer do my motives and actions have to remain cemented in performance or perfectionism. Yet, with the tenacity of a jackhammer, I return to break up the cement and drag out those foolish mindsets. What kind of help can I find? Over the years, I have applied wisdom from Proverbs, and have coupled that with the accountability of my husband and a few close friends. Deep inside us all, we know messy defines our DNA. Thankfully, we can know the only One who sees it all and yet chooses to love us unconditionally and change us steadily.