The Messy We Can’t Hide

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.

5 thoughts on “The Messy We Can’t Hide

  1. Flo, my father did not allow me to cry. I learned to bottle it all up and even hid in our bathroom sobbing into a huge bath towel as silently as possible when Tom and I first got married. My Dad may not have liked that I did cry alot. Seeing his alcoholism and treatment of my mom gave me many reasons to cry. But now I weep. I love weeping. It is like the sweet oozing from the wellspring of my soul, plus it is quiet. I hated having a bright red face. My counselor said use sunglasses ! I said increduosly ” even in a church service? ” Once again your topic has hit me where I have lived. Thank you! Please keep writing. You are ministering to this younger old lady. 🙂


  2. Such true words! I’ve spent many years trying to hide my messy from myself and others. I’m starting to see that’s where God changes my heart and the hearts of others. Thank you for sharing your messy parts to God’s glory.


  3. Thank you, Flo, for these very wise words borne out of the depth of your life experiences. How blessed we are that God is the One who can lovingly clean up the mess of our lives, comfort us in our sorrow, applaud us in our success, and guide us through every dark place into His glorious light.

    How very grateful we are, Flo, for your continued faithfulness in sharing the lessons God has taught you over the course of your life. We greatly benefit from your generosity.


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