I’m coming to the realisation that life is messy sometimes. A lot, probably more than we let on or admit. At the moment I have friends going through hard times and it makes me sad. Friends who aren’t happy, friends who have tough relationships, friends who have a lot on their workload. People who get snappy or don’t treat me or others the way I want them to, or who are choosing lifestyles and making decisions outside what I want them to do. And I realise, I am a bit of a control freak! I am quite particular about things. I want things to go a certain way and I will stress and stew and strive until I get what I want, in relationships, academia, housework, schedules, and group activities. I notice myself wanting to butt in from everyone’s chilled attitude and plead with them to please, just do the job.
I like my Bible times to look the same – prayer, devotions, Bible, journal, pray. Repeat daily. They should go for a certain amount of time and I should depart feeling a certain lightness and strength to fill my day. To be honest though, my faith journey is up and down and sometimes I’m holding on with my baby finger through the panic attacks and overthinking and uncertainities that I face as I try to work out my faith for myself.
My future plans have changed as many times as years in the last five years, if not more. I have so many things I want to do or could do. My desires and ideas keep moving. Right now, I don’t know if I want to move into business, events management, travel agency, teaching, teacher’s aide, counselling, project management, or something completely different that I haven’t thought of yet. 🙂
My to-do list can stress me, because I want it to look small and my life managed. However, I’m finding out that the accomplishment of my to-do list comes at the cost of fresh air in my soul. While I know I need to get things done and that above sentence sounds airy-fairy and unrealistic, I am a person, who needs time to sleep in, paint my toenails, and scrapbook. As we all are, I’m more complex than paying phone bills and vacuuming the dirt out of my car, even if I get a kick out of ticking the items off the list and seeing the finished result.
All this to say – life is messy. As much as I want my life to look neat and Instagrammable (complete with the Gingham filter, can I get an amen), like the movies where even their awkward moments and chaotic houses looks perfect on the screen, I just want to say that it’s not like that. Sometimes life sucks and is hard work. Sometimes I have to put my Bible away because for all my page-turning and praying I still don’t feel any better and I just need some breakfast. My little car is often heavily splattered in dirt and I offer people lifts then realise there isn’t much legroom for all the stuff yet to deal with still in the backseat.
Life is messy! We put such an emphasis on happiness these days, and I’m all for happiness and social media and good times. But maybe we’re trying so hard to keep up with the Jones’ we have created in our heads. I have a picture of what I imagine life should look like. I think I’m superwoman and can do it all AND learn another language or two on the side. I have my life planned out, and then I watch and feel myself crash and burn to the ground. Life isn’t always pretty. A town can burn to the ground, relationships can slap you in the face, and the body can leave you in the hospital with permanent problems. My heart hurts for friends and family and myself who just doesn’t have it all together.
We think everybody else does. I had two conversations the other day where we all discovered that we thought the other person had it all together. “You were just the cool kid growing up, and I was the awkward one awed by the thought that you would befriend me.” “You were the cool kid who got to do fun stuff and I felt like my life was so boring.” “You have an answer for everything and are always helping people.” “You’re the popular kid!”
And so I realised, we can’t go on comparing our lives to others. As they say, don’t judge your beginning by another person’s middle. They had a beginning too, and who can honestly say the beginning, or the middle, or even the end, isn’t hard, messy, or awkward. Reality is we are all messed up, broken, human beings who don’t have our lives together, but somehow… we are still loved and amazing.
Even the Bible is messy. It’s complicated. The sixth commandment says you shall not murder, yet lots and lots of people were killed in the Old Testament. Every time I open the Bible there is something new there, something I hadn’t seen even in a verse I’ve read a hundred times. There are so many angles and questions and grappling confrontations that go so deep down into our hearts. It’s not all cut and dry and Sunday School explainable; at least, not at the rate at my heart needs to go at.
I keep coming back to this prayer of a song that’s been mine the last two or three years: don’t stop the madness, don’t stop the chaos, don’t stop the pain inside of me. Do whatever it takes to give me your heart, and bring me down to my knees. O God I know there’s more than this. You promise pain, it can’t be meaningless. So make me poor if that’s the price for freedom.
My sister Nomi created me some wall art for my 18th birthday. It hangs above my desk and its words ring true as a constant reminder for me: happiness is a journey, not a destination. Happiness is right now. It’s celebrating the little things and the truth that we learn to hang on to desperately. Happiness doesn’t depend on things happening to us. Happiness is found in contentment, knowing that right now, even in the messy, it’s okay to be here.
Sometimes we’re not happy. I think that’s okay. I think admitting that is the road between hurt and chaos, and happiness. Finding the bravery to be honest and vulnerable (first with ourselves, then with another person, and slowly, with more people) will allow our souls to breathe. Taking off those masks of trying to have it all together and make everything go like clockwork – the big stuff like faith and the Bible, down to the little things of what we eat for lunch – will give us freedom to find a grounding truth that we own for ourselves. It won’t be to impress others, look accomplished, have an exciting Timeline, keep relationships going, be the same person that we used to be, or any other reason. Being honest and finding that truth we are looking for will be for ourselves, and each and every person is worth that.
I think ultimately, what I’m trying to say, is this: wherever you are up to, wherever I am up to, with life and God and relationships and work and self… it’s okay to be there. Whatever you might be going through, it’s okay. I think it’s important to admit that, because instead of our control freak self forcing our lives to look beautiful on the outside to others, we might think for ourselves that life is arguably more beautiful on the inside and outside when they are messy.