One stitch in, one stitch out….
I’ve never embroidered anything, until that recent night. I was sitting around a table with 10 other ladies, clutching white cotton dish towels; threading needles with colorful strands that would soon puncture the fabric.
My friend, Kori, had just shared about not only living out our faith when life is pretty, but in the mess…as she turned over the fabric to reveal the messy backside of the embroidered design on the towel.
Life can look like a pretty dishtowel. Life is rarely pretty, when we take a closer look.
How often do you sit beside someone at church, or pass someone’s desk at work, thinking they have a better life than you?
We humans are good at looking at the surface and seeing what we don’t have, don’t drive, don’t own, or don’t live in. We see the fancy car, the big house, the designer jeans. Or maybe it’s not that extreme, and we see the bigger house (than ours), the nicer car (than ours), or the wardrobe that we wished was hanging in our closets.
We see the nice side of life, and are duped into believing that everyone else is living the dream, and we are not.
All the while, others are doing the same thing, when they pass us on the sidewalk, or talk to us in the Church Coffee Cafe.
We rarely notice the emotions or situations that every single person on this planet deals with. We miss the pain underneath the smile. We fail to recognize the agony that is brimming just under the surface.
Yet we don’t miss our own mess. In fact, we are hyper-focused on what we aren’t getting just right.
I’m a really good mess-hider. You could walk in my house right now, and for the most part, it’s relatively neat. I’ve got a few things scattered around, and some dishes in the sink, waiting to go in the dishwasher.
But what I would rather you not do, is open my coat closet. Also, please don’t open my bathroom drawer. You can walk in the master bedroom, and you will find an unmade bed, and I won’t get too stressed. But please don’t go in my closet. Yes, I can make the outside look good, but behind the scenes…another story.
I often try to wrap pretty-ness around my life, realizing it will only temporarily hide what is truly happening inside.
I think about the dishtowel, and how often I hold my life up for Jesus to inspect, being sure He will be impressed with my beautiful design, and that if He doesn’t turn the towel over, He won’t have any idea what a mess I really am. Crazy thinking, I know. I have such pathetic moments.
He usually very gently says, “Daughter, dearly loved by God, I’ve got some work to do.”
Philippians 1:6 says this, “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Are you reading this today, thinking that Paul and Timothy must not have been talking about you, when they wrote that verse in Philippians? I get that. I’ve spent more time than not, believing that I’m anything but a “good work”.
But then there is this:
He is grace for the mess.
He is all about the mess.
He came to earth and it was messy. There was nothing glamorous about the stinky stable, bed of hay, or death on a cross.
His mess paid the price for me.
His mess was my Redemption.
If we can grasp that, really take hold of the hope that is revealed there, we could live more authentically, full of joy and grace. When we truly understand that we are messy and broken and loved, we can love the messy and broken. We can look past the pasted on smiles and the “I’m doing fine.”, and we can extend grace to those who are desperately in need of hope.
So I turn my dishtowel around to reveal the mess, and hang it there over the hook. That’s where I see His grace more clearly.