Life is messy. That is my best and most succinct observation after nearly 56 years on the face of the earth. Handling the “messy” becomes the challenge. Sometimes I can do it well, other times not so much. For me, whether or not I handle the messy times well is dependent on so many factors; how much sleep I have gotten, my overall stress level, exercise or the lack thereof, prayer time, financial status at any given moment, etc. I know, I know, I should trust God, have more faith, His eye is on the sparrow, and all that jazz. Allow me my human frailties.
Messy makes me weary. I would just rather go thru life gliding along on easy street, no worries, no hiccups, no dissention, world peace, kitties, puppies, and rainbows…… Ever felt that way? So often it seems, at least in my experience, as soon as one messy piece is cleaned up another is close on its heels. A brief respite between messes, and then back in the thick of another. Could be I’m just doing life all wrong, but I don’t think that’s the problem. I’m an avid observer of people and it appears we are all in the same boat, buffeted by similar storms. Some people reach out and ask for help, others pull inward and ride the storm out as best they can, and still others fall somewhere in between. Put another way, some fall on their knees and look heavenward, others shake their fists at the heavenlies, still others do a combination.
The Bible is our “how to” manual, our guidebook through the trials and tribulations of life. So why do we live on the roller coaster of life, twisting and turning, up and down and all around? Second Corinthians 1:4 puts it this way: “3 Praised be God, Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, compassionate Father, God of all encouragement and comfort;4 who encourages us in all our trials, so that we can encourage others in whatever trials they may be undergoing with the encouragement we ourselves have received from God”. (The Complete Jewish Bible) Ahhh….so that’s the answer, or at least part of it. We gain wisdom in the trenches and then emerge able to “pass it on” so to speak. Let’s face it, none of us goes through anything that another hasn’t already gone through. Am I right? It’s called empathy; our ability to share the feelings of another in any given situation. Of course we can’t know exactly how another feels as that person goes through their trial, experiences their storm, but we probably have a pretty good idea. And we are God’s representatives on the face of the earth, are we not?
I’m not just talking about everyone who has spoken the “magic words” , the prayer of salvation we are prompted to say when we accept Jesus as Savior. That may seem irreverent, but let’s face it, many times the altar call sounds as if the words spoken during the prayer of salvation are the only words that God will accept in order to enter the kingdom. Not so. God is looking at our hearts, not listening to the words. If you believe in God, Jesus His only Son, and the Holy Spirit, no worries.
The storms of life, the messes, teach us; they teach us about ourselves, about life, about others, and about God. On the other side of the storm, the lesson, the wisdom gained, can be used to help another going thru a similar storm. What if I still don’t have any answers after the storm? It’s still a win-win because there will be someone who needs to hear, “I don’t have the answer, but what I do know is that God loves you, He knows your struggle, your pain, the situation, and I will come alongside you and pray for you until you are on the other side.” Just knowing that we are not alone in our storm, that someone is praying for us, is comforting.
Life is not only messy, it’s also unfair. The messes of life don’t discriminate between good and bad people. We will all get our turn! Matthew 5:45 says, “45 For he makes his sun shine on good and bad people alike, and he sends rain to the righteous and the unrighteous alike.” (The Complete Jewish Bible) Well, at least that’s fair! Right!? Non church goers and church goers will get thrown the proverbial curveball of life from time to time; it’s part of us all being in the same boat!
Usually when people share their troubles with me I tell them we learn more in the valley than on the mountaintop. Whether they go to church or have never darkened the doorway, they know what I am talking about. Do I have all the answers? I used to think I needed to have something “wise” to say, a profound word of wisdom that would make everything all better. Life has taught me differently. Listening is far more important than pontificating the wisdom of the universe. Sorry that was kind of a smart mouth thing to say, but really, it’s true; listening is key. We want to be heard, and often just telling another our struggles helps. Invariably we tell our struggles to someone who has been there, done that in some way, shape, or form, and it makes us feel less isolated, less singled out by life. And it’s okay to say that we don’t have an answer, sometimes a hug says more than words.
So, what’s the bottom line? There’s nothing we go thru that isn’t common to man, and whether or not we are a “good person” or a “bad person”, life will be messy at times. Once on the other side we will get the opportunity to help another during their messy moment. Do I go thru my messy times with grace and beauty? Hardly!! Usually it’s kicking and screaming! I suffer loudly! Ask my husband and kids! But I have found, during those messy times there are people who come alongside me and give me hope, encourage me to keep putting one foot in front of another, and lift me up in prayer so that when I am on the other side I will have something to offer another.