How to Turn a Hot Mess into Something Redemptive

Column Post by Rita Schulte

Why are we all so freaked out about the mistakes, failures, and mess-ups in our lives? If we read the Bible, we see that most of the characters were a hot mess. We see David—a murderer, adulterer, and a liar. Peter was a coward, Paul was self-righteous, and Sarah laughed in the face of God.

Abraham lied about his wife, Moses murdered an Egyptian, and Jacob wrestled with God and stole his brother’s birthright—and yet this is the lineup we call the (book of) Hebrews Hall of Fame! (Heb. 12). Do you know why? Because each of these folks turned a hot mess into something redemptive. Each did mighty things for God. Each took what was learned from the mess (problem) and turned it into ministry. How? By getting real with God.

Each Bible character did this in a unique way, but they had several things in common.  Each of our Hall of Famers:

  • Failed in some way
  • Made a mess out of something
  • Were willing to be humbled
  • Were willing to be vulnerable
  • Suffered
  • Didn’t give up
  • Admitted their failures, but learned from them
  • Was willing to tell his/her story
  • Was passionate about his/her calling
  • Loved God with all his/her heart

Many of my counseling clients struggle with depression. Some feel hopeless. Many feel they’ve messed up so badly they can’t go on. They believe they’re unworthy, inadequate, failures, not good enough—and if people really knew them, they would be rejected. That’s why they hide behind the carefully constructed masks they’ve created—so people won’t see who they really are.

What’s the solution? Come out of hiding. Be willing to tell your story, mess and all. Being transparent is the key to freedom. You’ll be surprised at how people react to you when you do.

Think about it: Oprah Winfrey  is one of the most loved and successful women on the planet—and probably one of the most transparent. That’s why people love her. A week didn’t go by without her struggles—especially with food—being plastered all over TV, magazines, and the Internet.

People related to Oprah’s struggle because of their own, maybe not with weight, but with something. And that’s what connected them to her. That’s what connects us to each other, and to God, because in the telling of our stories, we see we’re all on the same playing field.

Oprah turned her mess into a message by taking off her mask and getting real, and in so doing created something hugely redemptive. That’s what our Bible characters did.

So where does that leave you? How can you learn from those who have gone before you?  How can you take all those places in your life you’ve wanted to delete and turn them into something profoundly meaningful for the glory of God?

Why not start today, and see what God can do with your hot mess?

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P.S. Won’t you take a moment to leave us a comment? We’d love to know what you think.

Rita Schulte is a licensed professional board certified counselor. She received her B.S. in psychology and a master’s degree in counseling from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Rita has a private practice with offices in Fairfax and Manassas Virginia where she specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, anxiety and depressive disorders as well as grief and loss issues. In April, 2011 she launched “Heartline Podcast” where she talks with top leaders in the Christian counseling and literary world about cutting edge issues affecting the hearts and lives of people today.  She also airs a 1 minute devotional spot Consider This on 90.5 FM in NC and 90.9 FM in Lynchburg, VA. Heartline airs on Saturday evenings on 90.5 FM NC and will be heard on Christian Life Internet Radio in the coming months. Her book, Sifted As Wheat: finding hope and healing through the losses of life is currently with Hartline Literary Agency. You can follow her at or Twitter at Heartlinepod.

Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)

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