Life is messy. As a result, humans are messy. That being true, I am often a disaster. Recently, my husband and I have considered selling our home. In preparation for our meeting with the realtor, we assessed the clutter and had a mild panic attack. By mild, I mean a few extra cups of coffee and a trip to Target for storage containers. We knew no one would want to buy our mess, so we better hide it. Spending the next two days in a manic state resulted in a cluttered garage, stuffed closets, exhausted bodies, and a presentable house. I was struck by the reality that while we had succeeded in cleaning up the visibly seen surfaces of our home, underneath, it was still a mess.
Isn’t this how we are in life? I know it is this way for me. We approach the world with our clutter neatly tucked away. Our innermost thoughts are praying people accept our nice, beautiful personas. Please, oh please, buy what I’m selling. Purchase my friendship for the mess you don’t see. Love me just the way I am, except you can’t see the disaster-clutter-I-am-a-mess-part. The most detrimental part of this mentality is that because we only ever see others without their mess, we assume we are the only ones in the world with a disaster on the inside.
Maybe this is why we are so attached to reality TV as a culture. Even though it is often edited for entertainment purposes, we watch and realize we aren’t alone in our messiness. I also get a secret thrill from watching other children act up in public. Why? Because my children just threw the same exact tantrum before we left the house. Ahh…now I feel better about my own parenting abilities.
About a month ago, I posted a quote by Steve Furtick on Facebook that read: “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” I could not agree more with his statement. I am guilty of comparing my life to that of others, not only through social media, but also face to face. Especially when it comes to being a mom. I see other moms talk about or post about incredible feats of creativity or thrilling adventures with their children, and I begin feel sorry for my own children. Or I walk by a beautifully dressed, has-everything-together mom at church with five kids in tow, and I wonder…I only have two children. How does she do it? And don’t even get me started on airbrushed super models. Where’s the reality in that!?
Honestly, I believe Furtick’s statement goes even deeper by pinpointing one of the Evil One’s greatest attacks on women today. It is silent. It is oppressing. It is deadly. He lures us into comparisons no woman can live up to. The real question is, why is the Father of Lies so successful? I believe it is because we are so afraid of telling the truth. I know I am. Who wants to tell the world you just yelled at your littles loud enough for the neighbors to hear? Who wants to tell people you go to church with that you just cussed like a sailor when you stubbed your pinky toe? Who wants to tell even your best of friends about the hole you punched in your drywall out of anger? (I have done all of these things, by the way, but their stories are left for another day’s blog…)
Now, before you think for one moment I am condoning my actions, please realize each one of these reactions to frustration, pain, and anger were all WRONG. But my point is this: We are human and therefore mistakes are inevitable. And maybe, just maybe we would make fewer mistakes if we felt freer to talk about our frustrations with each other. If we knew we would still be loved and accepted in spite of our messiness. We are afraid of what others will think if they see our TRUE-selves. But what if we weren’t? We could actually learn from each other how to not make the same mistakes…
So what now? If we truly know God’s love is the same for each of his children and He doesn’t make comparisons, how do we stop comparing our messy-selves with surface-clean-others? Why do we continue to allow the Evil One to keep us in the depths of insecurity based on how we THINK others live? I don’t believe the answer lies in posting all of our deepest-darkest problems on Facebook. Rather, maybe our approach to social media needs to be different. We need to realize that what we read are exactly what Furtick suggests – the highlights. Let’s celebrate the highpoints in our friends’ lives instead of comparing them to our low points. Our friends are human and their lowpoints exist too.
We also need to go to church with our real-selves out there for the Body of Christ to see. Why? Because if we can begin to be honest with our brothers and sisters, maybe they can be honest with us. And this is when healing will really begin. Just imagine for a moment if in your small group or Sunday school class you could say, “I’m struggling. I’m struggling big time. Can you help?” As I write this paragraph and rewrite this paragraph and stare at the words, I am deeply saddened that what I am asking of myself is so very difficult. Why is it that we are so afraid of allowing others to see our messiness within the church walls? If my Jesus can look at me, dirt and all, and love me, why do I expect any less from His church?
Maybe I don’t exactly how we begin being more honest, but I do know we have to start. If we don’t, Satan wins this battle through instilling fear in our hearts and minds. So maybe, just maybe, if we begin by wrapping our arms around those who are courageous enough to be real, and loving them with everything we’ve got, we will instill boldness in our own hearts. We must REFUSE him this victory in our lives!
When my daughter was in her infant and toddler years, God graced me with some very dear friends. I would call them on my really difficult mornings and frantically state, “I’m on my way over. If I don’t come now, I may just lose my mind.” Notice, I didn’t ask if I could come over... While still in PJs and hair slicked back in a greasy ponytail, I would pack-up a screaming, crazed child and head to a place of acceptance. They were there waiting with coffee brewing. Why did I feel safe? Because later in the week, I knew they would be on their way to my home for the same reasons. And you know what? I never cleaned up my house for those friends. They didn’t clean up for me either. We presented ourselves with truth, mess and all.
I am a mess. I need to know I am not alone…