“Life is messy,” my cousin always says. In any conversation we have about how to love, or hard decisions, or the uncertain future, or complicated relationships, somehow this little phrase always finds its way in. Sometimes she would mention it offhandedly, just utter it in the middle of a longer sentence. Sometimes she would offer it as an explanation, when we talked about the hard and complicated things. Sometimes she spoke it as nothing more than stating a well known fact. And sometimes she would look me in the eye and say it to me as a promise: that no, truly life is not easy but oh, there is good and beauty to be found in the messiness of it all.
I also found these words in a movie I watched for my 16th birthday, a movie that became one of my favourite romantic comedies. The movie is Letters to Juliet, a sweet and predictable little story about love and hope. There is a scene in the movie where a lady and her grandson are sitting in a car, driving through the Italian Vineyards on a journey to rekindle love with her long lost lover.
The grandson says:
"Wouldn't this be nice Gran, going from a man who worked the fields to a man who owns them. And you got to skip all the messy bits."
The lady say:
"honey, life is all about the messy bits."
Years later, that simple little phrase has remained in my memory.
Because life really is messy. How we think and dream, try and fail. How we love and hate, speak and remain silent. How we hurt people we love, and destroy things that are good. How some men will sacrifice their lives for strangers, and others will kill innocent lives. How there are days of joy, when I feel like I am surrounded by nothing but laughter, goodness and beauty. But then there are the days when all I can see is brokenness: Starving children, lonely people, torn-apart families, and death. On these days, evil seems to lurk in every corner and I wonder how this fragmented earth can possibly be part of God’s good plan. We humans bless and we curse, we declare that we will do life on our own, and then turn around and beg for help. I have cried because life is too short for me to possibly capture all of its beauty. But I have also yelled at God, demanding that he tell me why he made life so hard and so impossibly difficult. Can you see the messiness of it all?
Lean in close, I want to tell you a secret. You may call me crazy or foolish but I believe that all the messiness is exactly what makes this life beautiful.
Messy is the father who can hardly hold himself together as he walks his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day. Messy is the grandfather who sheds a tear each time he visits his wife’s grave. Messy is the man who now celebrates 10 years sober after going in and out of rehab for years. Messy is the aching of grief a parent feels when they lose their child. Messy is the rejoicing when a mother receives a pet scan that says all the cancer has been removed. Messy is the A+ after hours of hard work, of trying and failing. Messy is the boy who rises above a childhood of abuse, and becomes the loving father he never had to his children. Messy is the healing scars on the wrist of a girl who is finally able to believe that she is beautiful.
Can you see how beautiful the messiness is?
It is in these messy bits that we find beauty, where we see redemption and find indescribable joy.
Oh I’d love for you to join me on this journey, a journey to uncover all the beauty that can be found in all the messy bits.
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