Beautiful the Mess We Are

9:55 PMHeather

Whilst painting our kitchen cabinets over the last week, I learned some very important things.  For instance, there are approximately 546 shades of white to choose from.  Sanding is not fun.  Priming is important--but also not fun.  For that matter--not much of it was fun to me, actually.  Hanging with a dearest friend who gave up her whole Saturday to help--that was fun.  Tackling something with my husband that we've wanted to do for years--also fun.  Living with the mess in process--way beyond NOT FUN.  I didn't love having my kitchen table in my living room.  Or my cabinet items on my dining room table.  Seemed strange to say, "Caris, if you need a fork, go look through the dining room table."  Or how about searching for a checkbook to pay the tile guy by digging through upteen grocery sacks full of drawer items?

It. Made. Me. Crazy.  In fact, I think today proves that I am still suffering from PRSD--post repainting stress disorder.   But, the biggest lesson I am still wrapping my brain around is the epiphany that I struggle because of how I see myself.  I see a mess.  I see my failures.  I see my shortcomings.  (why, yes, I am a perfectionist!  how could you tell?).  I drive myself crazy by second guessing myself.  In my roughest moments, it's a bit like an out of body experience.  I can see myself doing something I know I will regret, but that still doesn't seem to stop the madness.  Then, of course, comes the regret.   Glad to know that Paul--author of much of the New Testament--had much the same struggle when he wrote about doing that which he doesn't want to do and not doing what he knows he should. 

I cried the first time I heard Amy Grant's Better Than a Hallelujah. The verses are brutal enough, but this chorus?

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah
BEAUTIFUL the mess I am?  Yeah, right.  I mean, I can appreciate progress and effort in my children and everyone else around me (my husband is pretty much a saint, so that's why he's not in that last statement).  But, I know the mess in my own head and heart.  And, I hate the mess.

Coincidentally--or more accurately--as God would have it, I am currently reading The Shack.  I find I have to stop every few pages and just marinade in it.  But, during our kitchen project, I just so happened to be on the part where Mack and Sarayu were working in the garden--the crazy, wild garden. Mack says, "I mean, look at this mess...but it really is beautiful and full of you, Sarayu.  Even though it seems like lots of work still needs to be done, I feel strangely at home and comfortable here."  And Sarayu responds, "And well you should, Mackenzie, because this garden is your soul.  This mess is you...and it is wild and beautiful and perfectly in process.  To you it seems like a mess, but I see a perfect pattern emerging and growing and alive."

Wowzers.  See, here's the thing.  I saw my kitchen--well actually, my whole downstairs, and I felt nearly frenzied with what felt like a very urgent NEED to get it finished.  Back to that saintly husband who so sweetly withstood me being a woman obsessed.  The timeline kept changing, and all I could do was keep calculating when it could be over.  Chris said that he felt we were on track, and we had accomplished much.  But, all I saw was the mess and disorder and chaos.  My friend, Sherry, was ever encouraging me as we primed and painted with how great it was going to look and how the counter tops would pop against the white cabinets or other such observations.  She had a vision beyond the mess.

But, I was unable to look at how far we'd come or really see the vision of what was ahead.  All I saw was the mess.  Oh, I can extend grace to others.  My children, for example.  I can stop and see how far they've come or even envision the joy of seeing them grow up to serve the Lord.  But, I cannot seem to extend this grace to myself.  Because all I see is the mess.

INTENTIONAL challenge:  Boy, I don't "just" need God to adjust how I see myself.  I need a major remodel.  I need Him to rescue me to complete freedom from these blinders that see just the mess.  I need Him to blow my mind and remold my heart so that I am encouraged by how far He's brought me.  I need Him to give me mega-memory of the victories He's won for me.  I need Him to let me soar with the joy of the final vision of who I'll be on the other side of heaven.  I need Him to demolish some strongholds and give me His eyes to see the process--that I am perfectly in process, as Sarayu says.  I need Him to engrave the truth of Philippians 1:6 on in my brain and on my soul--"being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."   If this hits a nerve in you, will you cry out with me--"Lord!  Give me JOY in the journey!  Give me PEACE in the process!  Give me HOPE of the future!  Give me GRACE for the mess of myself. Give me eyes to see the beauty there."

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