I want to share something amazing that happened when I invited God into my mess. In order to do that authentically, I felt like I needed to invite you into the very worst part of my mess so that you could understand just what I’m dealing with here.
This is our mud room. It’s where we (theoretically) hang our coats and store our shoes, boots, and winter gear. I’m so glad my husband doesn’t read this blog, because I’m sure he wouldn’t be too excited about me sharing with the world the ugly state of things. You might see this picture and judge me for being a slob, or wonder how on earth a room could get to this point, and if so that’s totally fine, my feelings aren’t hurt. I get it; I guarantee my Inner Critic is far more judgmental than any real person out there!
Maybe you don’t judge, but maybe you see this picture and feel relief that someone else has a messier room in their house than you. If so, it would actually bring me joy to know that my mess brightened someone else’s day!
But maybe you see this picture and you totally relate because you too have a room like this that you’re ashamed of. Or like me, there are times when unannounced visitors ring the doorbell and you’re mortified because of what the house looks like.
We all have areas where we struggle. For me it’s maintaining order in my home. For you it could be a relationship, being chronically late, struggling to keep a job, finances - whatever it is, it’s your mess. No matter what your own personal mess might be, I’m here to offer you hope and encouragement.
Recently I came to a breaking point where I realized something drastic had to happen. I couldn’t keep on the way I’d been doing things in my home. I would organize (thanks to a dear friend who worked with me years ago to give me tools to organize room-by-room), maintain for a (very) short time, and then things would fall apart all over again, and would remain so for longer and longer intervals. It’s like I’d just given up.
I went to the one place I go when I’m at the end of myself - God. I sat down and asked,
“I confess I haven’t been a good caretaker of this house. So what’s wrong with me? How am I so different from everyone else that I could let things get to this point? I feel like I spend a LOT of time cleaning with nothing to show for it. Please show me how I can be a better steward of this home.”
And then I listened.
I didn’t just leave white space in my mind, I started picturing myself cleaning. I thought about the fact that I love listening to podcasts while doing dishes, folding laundry or picking up the house. It occurred to me that I work very slowly when I do things this way. I remembered a time when I knew I had someone coming over in just a few minutes and how big a difference my five to ten minutes of cleaning made! It’s because I was racing the clock.
I felt like this was the key to my problem: I work hard, but not fast. I live in my head much of the time, and find it hard to focus, so I’m also not very efficient about the way I do things. I felt like the light bulb went on, and I decided that I needed a timer. Alana is a really efficient writer and uses a timer to do “writing sprints,” so I thought I could do “cleaning sprints” using a similar system.
I won’t go into my actual system - maybe that’s another post for another day! - but I have to tell you, it has revolutionized both the amount of housework I get done, and (maybe more importantly) my mindset about house work.
Look at the picture of my mud room again. I used to look at that and think it was an overwhelming mess, which would paralyze me. But now that I have been using my ten minute timer system (really it’s like a game to beat the clock), I can look at that room and know it is probably about a ten to fifteen minute task. Instead of feeling paralyzed and like a failure for the mess, I am excited to see if I can beat the timer and get it all taken care of in a ten minute period of time. When I’m done, even if it’s not totally finished in ten minutes, I feel like a winner because of the progress I’ve made, and I have momentum.
And all of this is because I invited God into my mess.
I’m not here to write about housekeeping. There are way more qualified women out there who do that well. But what I’d love for you to take away from my story is this: When you invite God into your mess - no matter what it is - you will come away transformed.
I think sometimes we compartmentalize our lives. We have spiritual issues we include God in, like making us more patient or kind or being a better wife, mother or friend. But some things like finances, housework or even planning our grocery list for the week - those are things we think of as “other” - like God wouldn’t be interested in those things. But he is. He is deeply, lovingly, amazingly interested in every part of your life. So if you have a mess in your life that you’ve felt powerless to clean up (literally or figuratively!), I would encourage you to let God in right now.
Here are a few basic steps you can take:
1. Identify your mess.
For me this was really simple…I just had to look around the house! But I also realized there were some mindset issues about housework that I needed God’s help figuring out.
2. Confess any sin or any part you’ve played in the problem
I had to confess that I had not been a good steward of our home. At times I’d procrastinated doing housework which was hard for me and felt overwhelming, instead focusing on things that came more easily.
3. Ask God to help you
This was so easy for me. I was done. I needed God’s help. For you it may not be as easy to invite God into your particular mess. If that’s the case, God will meet you where you are; he says he will (James 4:8)! I would encourage you to simply pray, “God, please help me.” He knows your situation, you don’t even need to form the words. (Romans 8:26-27)
This may look different for everyone. Maybe you need to take some time and read what the bible says about your situation. Or maybe you’re a visual person like me, and you can close your eyes and picture yourself in the middle of your mess, and allow God to bring things to mind. You can sit down with a journal and write down your thoughts if you enjoy writing. And don’t be discouraged if an answer doesn’t come immediately like it did for me. God might send someone to speak wisdom into your struggle, or maybe a sermon at church will address your situation perfectly. Listen until you receive your next step, and keep asking until it comes (it will come!)!
5. Choose a scripture to remind you of your mission
I chose Proverbs 31. I like reading the whole thing, because it contains so many qualities I want to strive for. But there are several that speak directly about managing your home, and it keeps my eye on the prize. Hebrews 12:1-2 is another great inspirational verse no matter what your mess:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (NIV)
Sharing my mess with you wasn’t easy - but I hope it makes it easier for you to share your own mess with God! As always, we would love to hear your personal stories, prayer requests and if/how this resonated with you today. May God bless you today, mess and all!