If you know me, you know that I like things perfectly neat and tidy. Things have a place, and I like when things are in their places. This is why I like farms: crops are planted in rows, cows are kept in stalls, and cats stay outside where they belong.
None of that’s true. Except the cat thing.
I’m a mess and my life is in disarray 90% of the time. The other 10% is just luck. Actually, it usually comes after one of my I Can’t Take It Anymore moments which prompt a sudden explosion of cleaning and tidying.
It’s a vicious cycle.
I’ve tried to eliminate mess for the last few years. I really have. I’ve tried to maintain the control, keep things neat, and keep it all together. But for us creative types, containing the mess is like containing the creativity. The mess is a sign that something beautiful is happening; something new is finding its voice, its life, its wings; something is growing and it needs warmth and little bit of damp soil to thrive.
I’m not talking squalor, or dank darkness that only grows mold and monsters. A little bit of healthy mess is a good thing.
My favorite thing is when I can spread out newspaper over a big table, pull out the paint and paper and glue, spread out for days, and let the ideas flow as a Brand New Thing takes shape. Sometimes it’s a scrapbook page, or a picture frame, or a card, or a gift. Sometimes it’s truly inspired, sometimes it’s Kindergarten Art as Seen by a 26-Year-Old. Either way, in the end, there is something new that wasn’t before. There is no science to it, no predicability, no exact method, just color and detail and mess. And it is good.
If this is true for me, might it also be true for the Lord? He is the God who brings order to chaos, it’s true (Genesis 1 & 2), but he’s also the Lord who disrupts the order we create with his own divine mess, to give us the opportunity to draw near to him. (Hosea 2:16; Isaiah 43:19)
I have to remind myself of this a lot, this goodness in the midst of mess, especially in this current season. Otherwise, all I see is the chaos, the crazy, the burden. I focus on what’s hard and forget to see the mess for the sign that it is: fertile ground for a beautiful thing to grow.
Whatever that beautiful thing is, it’ll probably be something wild and wonderful and full of Divine Life, which is altogether more than my neat, tidy, controlled little vegetable patch that lasts for only a season.