Recently I bought Jo Ann Fore’s journal, Write Where It Hurts. When it arrived, I thumbed through it with excitement. The glossy cover was beautifully decorated in green, my favorite color, and the pages were a crisp white. The journal extended an immediate invitation: Grab your black, ultra-fine Sharpie and write inspired words!
But I held the words back, restrained the life flow like a tourniquet constricting blood. I wouldn’t let one drop of ink onto the page. I wouldn’t, couldn’t, write in this journal. It was too pretty; I couldn’t make a mistake on the pages. I didn’t want to make a mess.
Hadn’t I made enough messes already?
I told Jo Ann how I felt.
“You write in that journal, girl,” Jo Ann said. “Cross through those words. Highlight. Mess up. Let it all out! God uses our mess. Just look at me. ”
It’s true, isn’t it? God uses our mess.
I’ve lived a messy life. Some messes were not of my own choosing; acts of violence perpetrated against an innocent child. Some were messes of my own adult choices. Yet God has used the most painful, messy things I’ve gone through to heal me, then has used me to minister to other women who have been through similar things. My childhood sexual and physical abuse. My three abortions. My two failed marriages and subsequent divorces.
An absolute mess, yes. Not easily cleaned up, forgotten or forgiven. Some things you can never take back.
Yet what I view as something to be erased, thrown away, or even hidden in shame is the raw, workable material God, the Potter, uses to create masterpieces for His glory and for ministry. Our desperate neediness uncovers His greatness. Our weakness points to His strength. Our mess becomes His redemptive message of love and grace to others who are broken, too. Much like the darkness of the Shulammite woman; God’s light and holiness overshadow it.
Here’s the good news. God doesn’t require perfection. He just wants yielded clay. As He takes the imperfections of our lives, our sins and mistakes, our tragedies and wounds, He showcases His glory and His perfection through them in jars of weak, earthly clay.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).
Have you made a mess? Go ahead, release it. And watch what God can do with it.
Beth Jones is a Christian speaker, author, wife and mom of 3 beautiful daughters who equips women to hear God’s voice, to unlock their gifts, and to pursue their passion. You can find out more about Beth’s products and coaching services at http://www.bethjones.net.