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Messy People

Updated: Mar 26

Once a week we host a home group/Bible study. It’s a sweet time when we have the privilege of opening our home to young families and our normally quiet empty nest becomes a whirlwind of beautiful chaos.  After a time of food and fellowship the kiddoes head upstairs to play while the adults sit downstairs to study God’s Word.  This week as our home group ended and as food was being dispersed, shoes were being put back on and last minute “Are you sure you don’t need to go potty?” pleadings abounded, I heard one of the sweet mamas ask one of the older kids what the state of upstairs was.  

“It’s a mess,”  was the definitive response.  This kid cracks me up.  He is an old soul in a growing body and tends to say what he means and mean what he says. 

She smiled and with an encouraging tone and asked “Well, how about you go upstairs and help clean up that mess?”  

“It’s not my mess though.”  was the response.  The oldest sibling of four, I’m sure he helps clean up a lot of messes, probably many that are not his own.  This made me smile and I walked away giving them space to work out the conundrum.  

This week I’ve been thankful for that sweet one who was so honest about an early life dilemma that just didn’t seem fair.  I’ve been thinking about it all week in fact.  

How often are we tasked with helping to clean up messes we didn’t make? 

The answer?  Everyday we do real life with other human beings.  

As people, as humans, we are messy.  I’m not talking, not putting away your clothes  or doing the dishes kind of messy (although to be fair, some of us do fall into that category as well…we are all a work in progress.)  I’m talking messy as in emotional and mental messy.  

Our mess presents itself to others in different ways.  

Trust issues

Boundary issues

Self esteem issues

Messy thinking

Messy relationships 

Messy mindsets 

Until we meet Jesus face to face we will all be in a continual state of being transformed into His image.  I’m so thankful  that God’s word  assures us that He is faithful to continue the good work He has begun in us until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6).   He is good.  He is faithful.  He is patient.

How does He do this though?  

How does He continue His good work in us?  

What does that look like day to day?

I think by now we’ve all learned that there is no Mary Poppins  “mess wand” that He waves that instantly cleans up the mess in us.  But like Mary Poppins, He does come along beside us and help us assess and work through our mess.  Feel free to Google “A Spoonful of Sugar helps the medicine go down” to validate my avid research on this matter.  

Because He never leaves us, forsakes us or turns His face away from us, we can always be certain that He is with us in the midst of our mess.  (Even when we act in messy ways that we’d rather he didn’t see or say messy things we’d rather He didn’t hear.) 

And right smack dab in the middle our messiest messes He never fails to fiercely love, guide and lead us through and by His Word and His Spirit.  

He is so very good and wise though that He knew that we would need other human beings to come along beside us as well and help us clean up our messy lives.  

A mess they often did not make.  

In my own life, I’m thankful for those that have come along beside me and helped me to clean up my messes.  I feel humbled and grateful even in the simplest sense when I drop something and things scatter everywhere and someone is kind enough to stop the momentum of their moment to stoop down and help me gather my mess.  

How much more thankful  am I though for those that God has called beside me in life to help me clean up my more profound messes.  Messes that originate in the head and heart.  Messes that, if not addressed, have the potential to navigate the pathways of my life?  

God’s word tells us 

For we are God’s fellow workers; 

You are God’s field, God’s building. (1 Cor. 3:9)

As co-laborers with Christ, we have been given the chosen privilege to work with Him to help Him accomplish His will in the lives of others.  As awesome as this is, that God would allow us and choose to use us as His vessels on earth to bring His love and truth into the world, at times can feel mundane and messy.  

The good news is, He doesn’t just choose us.  That would no-doubt be an overwhelming task and responsibility.  No.  Instead He chooses a team of people and lovingly weaves them into our lives in different ways, in different seasons to do our part in helping to clean up the mess. 

Segway to an episode of Hoarders.  Have you seen this show?  If not, feel free to give it a watch for reference purposes.  There’s always a person who has a struggle that has evolved into a mess that threatens to overtake them.  Their well being, their relationships, every aspect of their lives are now held captive by this mess.   A team comes in. A therapist, an organizer and a group willing to do the dirty work of helping to sort through the piles of mess that have been accumulated.  A mess none of them have made and yet, agree to take part in cleaning up.  A mess that must be sorted not just tangibly but internally- the mess that we see in people’s lives is just the fruit of a root that lies within.  Most often, the fruit of woundedness, unhealed hurts and the deep recesses of their hearts that have yet been infiltrated by the love and truth of God.  

In order for the work to be successful though, it is crucial that the owner of the mess takes an intentional and proactive role in doing the work to work through the mess.  Otherwise, nothing will really change and all of the work on the part of the helpers will accomplish nothing.  

What I hope you will take away from this cinematic spiritual analogy:

If we clean up other people’s messes for them, they will eventually find themself in a mess again.  Be proactive in cleaning up the mental and emotional messes in your life.  Like learning to ride a bike, there are some things other people, even God, cannot do for you.  You have to choose to take the steps needed to move forward.  God will help you, others will help you, but you must choose to pick up your feet and move them forward.  

We all need help cleaning up our messes.  You aren’t in this alone.  Allow your Heavenly father into those deep recesses of your heart to see, address and begin to help you sort through whatever mess there is.  He loves you, He already knows it’s there and He longs to be invited in so He can continue that good work He has begun in you.  Choose to be vulnerable as well to those that He so graciously weaves into your life who have accepted the task of working with Him on helping you.  These may be your spouse, your friends, your therapist.  I’m confident that as you seek Him, He will reveal to you who He has called to help Him accomplish His will in your life. 

We have all been called to co-labor with Christ to help clean up the messes in other people’s lives. Messes we didn’t make.  It is our chosen privilege.  Never forget where He has brought you from.  His unrelenting goodness and mercy in your life that has gotten you this far.  When you encounter the mess of another human, rather than allowing yourself to be put off or overwhelmed, ask the Lord what part He might have you play in helping to clean up the mess.  He hasn’t called you to help clean up every mess, but He has called you to be a co-laborer with Him in the lives of some. He will give you wisdom as you seek Him.  In fact, He promises to: 

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:5-6

Be thankful for those that the Lord has woven into your life to be on the team of mess-cleaner-uppers.  

Be faithful to be used by God to be a mess-cleaner-upper in the lives of others.  

Even messes you didn’t make.

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