Sometimes, I’m a hot mess. And it sort of creeps up on me. Do you know the feeling? Kind of like after you’ve cleaned the house so thoroughly it gleams in all its homey-loveliness as it should and you feel so wonderful and on top of your life? And you sip your coffee gazing proudly around at the lack of clutter, the lack of crumbs in crannies, or laundry on the floor. Then, when that coffee is finished, you put it in the sink. Maybe you rinse it, but it’s still there. In the sink. The First Dish. The one that begins the cycle again, until somehow, suddenly, you blink, and you can’t see the bottom of the sink, or the living room floor, and the chaos is yet again bursting forth from every corner of creation. You know that feeling? Except I’m not talking about when your house feels that way. I’m talking about when your soul feels that way.
That’s what happened to me this week- or this month- or who can say when it started? Maybe when Eve bit into that piece of fruit awhile back? Regardless, the chaos bubbled over, and I began to sense it last Sunday at church, when- even as our pastor spoke about who “I AM” is– I heard the whispering inside my head- “You’re a hot mess.” I knew that voice wasn’t from God, and yet from then on throughout the week, my failings just began to rise up before me one by one, and pretty soon they hung my head low with the weight of them. “You’re a hot mess.” I nodded my head in agreement and cradled a hurting heart. Somewhere in my mind, I knew this wasn’t right. Jesus said his yoke is easy and his burden is light… So I must not be carrying the right burden, right? I’m not supposed to carry my shame around, or brandish it like a leper ringing a bell, crying out, “Unclean!” I know Jesus took all that from me on the cross, bore the shame and the punishment on my behalf, so that I could live freely, and dare I say- abundantly- in the love and holiness of God. I know that– intellectually. But I struggled to receive it.
I was a hot mess- a head case, really. My head imagined God as begrudgingly tolerating my life, thinking He must resent me- even my good moments- because of all my broken ones. He gave up so much for me and I? I’m forgetful, prone to wander, sinful to his face. And when you realize that’s who you’ve been, that it’s your own fault your soul is lost and hungry, and how much you don’t deserve to be found or fed, it certainly is hard to hear any other word than unworthy.“You’re a hot mess,” the voice cries. When you fill up on failings, you’re empty. Starving for love.
When the accuser accuses, he attacks by keeping track of every single grievance. Am I right? “Don’t you feel ridiculous trying to blog about your so-called ‘Reclaiming Abundance’ project, when you’re just a wayward drudge lost in exile?” he spat each time I thought about beginning my post for this week. After all, how disgusting- how unloveable is hypocrisy?
And sometimes you need someone to be thinking about you… which God is alwaysthat someone. Ann Voskamp, who I must constantly be echoing (you’ll have to deal with it if you keep reading my posts), included this link in her blog this week, and this video that goes with it. I meant to read it when she posted it earlier this week, but just never got the chance until Friday. When I finally read it, I just Completely. Broke. Down. I mean, ugly crying over here.
It felt like I’d torn a muscle- a love muscle- which I’m not even sure how it got that way to begin with, and now it has to heal. Now, I have to learn how to use it all over again- how do we keep doing that?? It amazes me how we constantly forget, and constantly have to remember again. How does God not shake His holy head in exasperation and smite us all??? Why does He instead extend grace? These glaring questions blinded me- I was sure God’s love had to be there somewhere, but I was grasping in the dark. And sometimes powerful words, even if they’re accompanied by bad synthesizer-y music, are the only thing powerful enough to break down your wretched walls and bind up your broken heart.
Sometimes you have to hunt hard for God’s love. And I needed more. How to get this skewed view of God’s love back on track? How to get back a whole heart? I clung to counting gifts like these:
Who do I know that talks about God’s love? I youtubed Francis Chan, because if you write a book called Crazy Love, maybe you can remind me what it is. Thank you God! Because I found what I was searching for- and maybe you are searching, too? So, here is what I found first:
Oh my goodness, are you just bawling like I was??? Again, with the crying… But crying is good sometimes. Sometimes you need a good day of it. Along with copious amounts of coffee and chocolate.
And someone who loves you so much that they will remind you who you are (and who you are not), and more importantly, who I AM is. And because the first video was so good, I watched this one, too. A much needed feast for my heart.
And as I listened to the second one, one of my dearest friends walked with me through my hot mess (which even the fact that she sensed I needed someone is a God thing, by the way). Can you believe God cares about even the tiny moments- or big moments when we feel tiny? When we look at ourselves and see only broken, crying chaos bursting from every corner of our being? God CARES about that! To echo Francis Chan, are you kidding me?! I’m amazed, and looking back on this week, I saw how even though I was fighting for love- which I already had been given- there were countless moments when God broke through.
In studying my Bible this week (and by studying my Bible, I mean awkwardly stumbling through a weighty glory that’s infinitely over my head) I read this passage in Luke 6:47-49
“I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck the house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
Did you catch that? The man who laid the foundation on rock dug down deep. Doesn’t it follow that we will have to dig down deep if we want a foundation that’s built on rock too? If we want to be firmly rooted in Jesus, in His love, His grace- if we want to let him redeem our brokenness? We can’t do that, you know. I mean- redeem our brokenness. Only He can. Because that’s who he is. Because I AM. So, of course I will fail in reclaiming abundance on my own. Because in so many ways, I can’t. I AM is the only One who can really reclaim abundance. What a relief! It’s not on me! His grace is sufficient. How prideful are we to clothe ourselves in our shame- to focus on who we are not- instead of who God is? Isn’t being that full of yourself a form of idolatry, really? Because it’s still being full of yourself to dwell only on your brokenness. That’s not your story or mine anymore. And I am so far from being articulate about this, but I just wanted to share my heart- such as it is- with you.
So, there’s no one drawing or anything this week. Just a bunch of blessings breaking through. Just a battle, a digging down deep. I opened my Bible to these two psalms on Monday last week, and kept going back to them; by the time I reread them this weekend, I was stunned by God.
For the director of music. According to gittith. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
1 How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! 2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.[c]
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. 6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.[d] 7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
8 Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob. 9 Look on our shield,[e] O God; look with favor on your anointed one.
10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. 11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
12 Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.
A prayer of David.
1 Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. 2 Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God;3 have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. 4 Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.
5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. 6 Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. 7 When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.
8 Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. 9 All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. 10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. 12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. 13 For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.
14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God; ruthless people are trying to kill me— they have no regard for you. 15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. 16 Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother did. 17 Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
“I call on you all day long… Bring joy to your servant,” and “My soul longs and even faints for the courts of the Lord,” best sum up what my soul echoed over and over this week. That’s why I was so stunned. God hears me! He hears you. I just hope we can hear Him- hear His great love roaring over the sound of the accuser and his puny lies. May they shrivel and die in the light of truth.
Keep digging deep, hunting His love, remembering what you’ve forgotten. Call on His name All. Day. Long. He’s God- I AM- compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Ask God to silence the accuser and to give you what you seek and keep asking. And may what you seek be His face, to dwell in the house of the Lord every day of your life.