How do you feel about messy?
A messy bedroom.
But what about messy relationships? That’s a horse of a different color, no?
In order to truly be connected to others, you have to make peace with messy. You have to be okay with letting others in when you are at your worst and your life is a total train wreck. You also must be willing to turn the tables. When other people’s lives are messy, you can’t turn a blind eye or offer cheap words of comfort. You must willingly walk into the mess, even if they’re hiding, and bear the bad stuff together.
I learned this lesson in a high school library recently. Two sixteen-year-old girls had been killed in a car accident in the small town where I live. Because I often work with teenagers, I was invited to come to the school as a grief counselor.
When I stepped through the doors, the pain was palpable. Young women like you usually aren’t good at hiding your emotions. I love that about you. These young people weren’t politely crying into their hankies. They were sobbing. It was ugly and awkward and hard to watch.
As I sat at a table taking it all in, I was struck by the fact that God meets us so intimately in our pain. In fact, He walks headlong into it. The Bible says that He’s close to us when we’re brokenhearted (Ps. 34:18). When we are weary and fed up, He wants us to come to Him (Matt. 11:28). The teenagers I saw modeled His example that day. They didn’t hide their hurt from each other. They didn’t put on a brave face. They willingly walked into each other’s messy pain. As a result, they faced an extremely difficult time in community, not alone.
Hear me: If you do not want to be lonely, you must be willing to be messy.
And there’s more. You may be okay with messy, but how do you feel about being interrupted? What about being inconvenienced?
If you do not want to be lonely, you must be willing to be messy.
You see, valuing people means adopting an overt willingness to be inconvenienced. It means doing things that cannot be measured. It means developing relationships based on who people really are and not who we want them to be.
Let me give you an example.
My husband and I host a small group in our home. That group has become one of my greatest insulators against loneliness. We truly bear each other’s burdens on a regular basis. We pray for each other. We cry together. We share fears and doubts and lawn mowers. It’s the best example of the New Testament church that I’ve ever known.
But let me be clear, it is not convenient.
Being known won’t fit onto a checklist and it won’t be convenient. Christian community has become a buzzword for something we do, something we can put on the calendar, but that’s not true community.
Jesus know all about this. His community was no cakewalk. Judas betrayed Him. Peter denied Him. Paul persecuted His flock and yet . . . Jesus pursued a relationship with them.
He invites us to connect with Him and others along the messy road less traveled.
If you want to be known, you must be willing to get messy and you’ve got to ditch the idol of convenience our culture worships so freely. I’m shooting you straight, because I want you to know it’s not an easy road. But it is one that God has always walked. He invites us to connect with Him and others along the messy road less traveled.
Who do you know whose life is messy? How can you reach out to her this week?
What is one way you can serve someone else that is inconvenient for you but worth the potential of deeper connection?
Log on to the giveaway widget below, and then leave us a comment with your answer. We will choose one of you to win Connected: Curing the Pandemic of Everyone Feeling Alone Together, the book this post was adapted from.