A Few Quick Thoughts In the Middle of the Messy
I know I’ve said many times over the last many months that my life is crazy. It is. And just when I think the storm around me couldn’t be crazier, the wind speed picks up. So, part of the reason I haven’t written much lately is that I haven’t been able to string more than two brain cells together before the next crisis blows them apart again. But every once in a while, a few of those synapses have collided, sparking some interesting thoughts. I figured that in the few moments I have between gusts of wind right now, I might as well jot them down.
First of all, I may as well resign myself to the fact that life is crazy. Maybe my particular life is a bit more out there than yours, or maybe you’ve got me decked at every level. Maybe I just expect more calm from this life than is reasonable, given the condition we’re all in. Whatever. Crazy is as crazy does, and this is my life. I might as well live it instead of waiting for things to change.
So that’s my first little burst of inspiration. You and I don’t get to wait for “this season” to blow by before moving ahead with the life God calls us to. “This season” may very well be “this life” for all we know, so we better get to it. If we’re bouncing with elation, then let’s live it out loud. If we’re crawling and scraping through the mud, let’s shape and mold that muck into whatever beauty we can muster. And if we’re simply hanging on for dear life while the wind howls in our ears, then let’s lift our voices and sing along with the sound. Because we have the One Who Calms The Storms and He Who Is Life Itself dwelling in the marrow of souls, we can fully live in any situation. From the eye of my current storm, I stand up and testify!
I’ve found life in the strangest places, you know. A new co-worker who exactly gets my peculiar situation. A song that hits me just so. An eye-opening possibility that never would have occurred to me if I hadn’t been so knocked off kilter. A comforting Presence that brings me back from the brink of my personal darkness. Life is everywhere if we lift our eyes and look for God, the Source of Life, in the midst of our storms. If all we do is hunker down and hide, waiting for the storm to pass, we’ll miss it - and we might end up waiting a very long time.
My second spark of inspiration comes from realizing how very little I truly need in life. My family is getting ready to move our home from one address to another only a few miles away. No big deal, except we’ve had our roots down on our particular street for sixteen years. That’s sixteen years’ worth of stuff accumulating in our closets, under the couch cushions and on top of the cabinets. In cleaning things out, I’ve found plenty of “stuff” shoved in corners in haste when we probably should have dealt with it in the moment the “stuff” manifested. And now? Well, we’re literally moving mountains to get this move done.
Guess how much of this “stuff” goes straight to the trash can? At least three-quarters of it. Why have I accumulated it all? Why did I store it? Why did I wait so long? The answer is simple - I got comfortable where I’ve been instead of being prepared to move when God moved me. And now that the nudge has come, moving is a whole lot harder than it needs to be. I’m praying that I learn my lesson and live lighter in the next house.
The spiritual implications are obvious. When we stay in the same spiritual space for a while, we collect dust bunnies in the closet, junk in the drawers, and excess in every corner. Then, when we need to move into a new space, it’s so darn hard, and we’re tempted to stay put far longer than we should. At the very least, the move will be more stressful than it needs to be, maybe even painful. Perhaps we could learn to live a little lighter and deal with our “stuff” in the moment instead of accumulating in our seasons of stability.
The final thing I’ve been thinking about in the middle of this messy season is how hard it is to give myself permission to be messy, and how hard it is to ask for help in cleaning my mess up. If it hadn’t been for an observant, generous, and stubborn friend who called me out in front of my small group and pointed out that I needed help, I might have tried to muddle through on my own - and potentially drowned in the process. Instead, my group showed up eight-ladies-strong and collectively knocked out 40 hours’ worth of packing and cleaning work in an afternoon. 40 hours! That’s a full-time work week! I can’t begin to tell you how much sleep and stress that saved me, how desperate I was for the help, and how grateful I’ve been to each and every one of those ladies.
But I didn’t have the humility to ask for it myself. Actually, if I’m honest, I wasn’t honest enough with myself to admit how badly I needed help. It’s hard to admit when we come up short in the what-life-needs-from-us department, and yet we know in our brains that we’re not supposed to do this life alone. We’re made to be in relationship with each other, and not because everything is nicer that way. We actually NEED each other. As in we-might-kill-ourselves-trying-to-do-it-all-on-our-own kind of need each other. I know that’s my tendency. I didn’t think I was prideful. But when the chips came down, I found out that I am.
How easy is it for you to ask for help? How close to the end of your rope do you get before you start calling out for someone to lift you up a bit? How do we convince ourselves in the middle of a crisis that literally lays us out to still buck up our upper lips and tell everyone we’re fine? Who do we think we’re fooling?
So, I’m taking a good hard look at myself and working at being more honest about how I’m holding up both for my own sake and for the sake of my friends. We had a blast working together on my house, and I wouldn’t trade the laughter we shared around the lunch table that day for anything. But if I’d had my way and my friend hadn’t been so insistent, I would have eaten alone.
I’ll likely expand on a few of these ideas in other blog posts in the future, but since I’m not sure how the crazy will go in the next weeks, I figured I’d at least jot down the highlights for now. I hope this storm will pass, and after the moving truck leaves us in our new place, I’ll have a season of calm that allows for more coherent thoughts. Until then, let’s just keep living the moments we’re in to their fullest, and find God as real and present in the cray-cray as He is in the calm.