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I am a complete mess.

That is how I’ve felt lately. I don’t think anyone else thinks so, which in some ways is maybe what is so tragic about it.

I have a friend who doesn’t hide it from anyone that she’s got issues. It seems like every time I talk to her I feel like I’ve been puked on. She tells me the trashier details of her life. She tells me about the guy who she went home with last weekend after a night of clubbing. She calls me frantically when she is afraid that she is pregnant or contracted an STD. She complains about the squishy part of her hips that never disappears despite her obsession with aerobics. She asks me if she should consider liposuction. She shows me her latest round of credit card purchases from Nordstrom’s, and then tells me she’s considering filing for bankruptcy.

I look like a porcelain doll compared to her. But, the porcelain is beginning to crack …

Lately, life has been overwhelming and incomprehensible, and it scares me. I’m afraid to even have a plan or a dream because I’m afraid of being wrong. I’ve been wrong so much lately it seems. I don’t know as much about what I want as I think.

My compassion occasionally grants people the right to walk all over me. My ambition sometimes chokes my relationships, because I forget to slow down and really see people. My goal of excellence pushes me too far, and before I know it I’m expecting perfection from others and myself. My optimism causes me to be hurt by life’s disappointments and failures. My feisty character sometimes causes me to say or do things I regret later. My thirst for knowledge often turns to arrogance. My desire to be known sometimes causes me to act self-important. My self-consciousness prompts me to hide. My independent spirit sometimes alienates people when I actually really need them.

It seems like lately I’ve been erring on the wrong side of my personality, like life is all leaning in one direction, like gravity is pulling me downward when I’d really like to learn how to fly. I’m discovering more and more flaws, more and more things I need to work through.

And I cry out to God to heal me, to give me wisdom in the complexities of life, to grant me the courage and humility to apologize, to allow me to see myself truthfully. Yet, I’m still wrong sometimes. I hurt other people. I hurt myself. I hurt God.

It’s never made sense to me that God would guide me to be wrong. So, I’m surprised at how often I muddle up the things I feel very strongly that God has led me to do. But, at the same time, I don’t regret any fumbled steps. I know God was there with me for each stagger. Maybe it’s possible for God to guide us to do things even though He knows we’re going to flounder and blunder our way through it. Maybe that’s what God’s grace looks like—it fills the gap between our bumpy, messy lives and His glory.

My faults, my failures, my fumbles and my messes … That is where the glory of God comes in and illuminates, not for the sake of my knowing or understanding life, but for my seeing the greatness of God.

Maybe my mistake is in thinking I have to look like porcelain in order for God’s glory to be evident. Maybe I actually have to allow myself to be seen as the mess I really am. Because in my weaknesses, in the cracks in the porcelain, others may see the power and goodness of God.

I doubt I’ll ever think it wise to spill the messy details of my life into just anyone’s lap like my friend does. But, do I spare people the details just to maintain a façade?

I let only a select few into the mess, and I’ve realized that sometimes I shut out the very ones I want in just because I’m afraid that their own lives which look so neat on the surface would be soiled by mine.

And the friends I admire the most are the ones who have allowed me to see their flaws. It is their transparency and their struggle with the mess that I respect. They don’t deny it, but they don’t excuse it either. They fight to be sure that God’s glory can shine even brighter in their lives.

Like me, they would probably claim to have messy lives. But, I don’t see that. I see God’s goodness, His power, His mercy.

May we all give God room to get the glory in our broken, messy lives.

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