How often have I made this statement, “What a Mess?” I have said this regarding situations personally, professionally, relationally, financially, and nearly every other conceivable possibility. Messes seem to be a part of life. My default over the years when facing a mess was to search the landscape for someone to blame. My thinking has been in this bit of a mess; this has to be the result of someone else’s: A. meanness; B. neglect; C. intention; D. Cruelty; E. All of the above!
Blaming someone for our problems seems to be the natural way to address life’s messes. It was my parents, teachers, siblings, spouse, pastors, neighbors, politicians, bankers, or some hidden force not readily identifiable. One day I noticed that you could not spell “mess” without me. I am not saying that everything that has ever happened to you is 100% your fault, yet the opposite needs some consideration: I am not responsible for anything that has ever happened to me. The truth is somewhere in the middle of those two bookend statements. Since the new year has arrived, I have been doing some reflecting. As I get older, there are more events and situations to ponder. I have discovered a painful truth: I bear some responsibility for the messes I have experienced. Rarely have I been a completely innocent bystander. I am not thinking much about childhood situations. Rather, I am pondering situations where I more than likely, okay, let me say it plainly, contributed in some way to creating a mess. How have I contributed or participated in some of the messes of my life?
- Failing to act sooner. I could have mitigated some of the fallout by doing what needed to be done sooner.
- Procrastination. By putting off doing what I knew should have been done, I allowed a given situation to become much larger.
- By not controlling my emotions. At times it is not a particular action that leads to a problem; it is our attitude, spirit, and emotional outbursts.
- Not being prayerful. By just rushing in without praying for guidance and direction.
- Being addicted to being right. It is important to do the right thing, but no one has the perfect vantage point except God as to the right way in every situation.
- By not being gracious enough. Grace is the lubricant of the Holy Spirit to keep life’s friction manageable. I have received so much grace from God and others, and I must also offer grace.
- By not apologizing. To err is human. We all have, and we all do. a genuine “I’m sorry goes a long way.
- By forgetting the importance of relationships. People matter to God, and they should matter to me.
- By failing to act at all. Not being courageous enough to do what we know in our hearts must be done. We think if we ignore the situation, it will get better, which rarely, if ever, happens.
- By failing to take responsibility. If you are in a position where you must act, you must make the necessary decisions.
There is a scripture passage that I go to when I sense things are about to get messy. My natural inclination is to rush in, straighten things out, make a decision, and move on. That is why Isaiah 40:31 is so helpful to me.
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isa. 40:31).
Truths from this verse that help me:
- Waiting is not weak but powerful Waiting is allowing God room to work
- Waiting is active, not passive. Waiting is not sitting by and letting come what may, but rather a prayerful attitude, always looking for God’s Hand and direction.
- Waiting brings renewal of strength. God renews our strength, and we trust and seek His direction and timing.
- Relying upon God is a way to help with weariness. Messes lead to weariness. Trusting and relying upon God does renew and revive us.
I am not an expert in many things, but I have earned a degree in this subject. There is a sense in which you cannot avoid them altogether. Trust God and do your best. Always look for the lesson to be learned. Give yourself as well as others, plenty of grace.
Look for the message in your mess. Trust God and keep moving forward.