Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Showing God the Mess

"She listened with her eyes closed to the sermon, which was about letting God into your worst drawers and closets, and how healing could not happen if you let God into a living room that had been cleaned for the occasion. If you wanted the healing, you had to show God the mess." (Anne Lamott, from Blue Shoe)

I haven't read a novel in years and thought, what's the point of reading a novel? It's not real. And then there was this, right in the middle of the novel I chose to try. Of course, it's not surprising as it is Anne Lamott, known also for her non-fiction works. But there it is--novels can offer things, too.

Outside the story, I look at what great meaning this has. My older brother, sister-in-law, and I were sitting around our kitchen table talking and I was asking my atheist brother, "Really Tim, you have never had that feeling that isn't you--that you know is God?" No, absolutely he has never had anything like that, not even in all his years singing in his university's chapel choir. Yet I've had that feeling many times. Why? I don't know.

I began to think of when I've had that feeling. The two definite strongest times were when I've been in probably the biggest mess of my life, and God entered. I can't really explain it--it's a completely different sense where I have the feeling of being held and a message is somehow conveyed in that holding. There have been other times when I've felt held, though not as strongly. Those tend to be the times when I take the time to sit, pause, and let everything out. Then God comes in. It's not when I'm happiest, but not necesarily when I'm a train wreck either. It's like the quote says--it's not when I've cleaned everything to create a space for God. It's whene everything is out there, as it is--the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I was talking with Leo a little while ago and he told me he lay for hours in excruciating pain in prayer, begging God to take his pain away. Eventually that led to surgery which removed the specific pain. Maybe he didn't felt held, but maybe that's how God answered--the surgery took the pain away.

People go about making New Year's resolutions and I typically don't, as I'm constantly striving to do things, and a date doesn't mean they're more likely to occur. But as another year begins, I hope I find the time to show God my various messes and unclean drawers, and to open myself up to those healing feelings of being held.


hikerrev said...

That's one of my biggest issues with church ~ that we feel like we can't show up unless we're put together just right. I feel like we ought to be able to bring our messy lives, un-straightened, into the community of Christ, and be accepted and welcomed and supported and loved ~ without needing to do anything first. But it seems to be most often less like I'd like, and more like a club that you have to know the rules to before you can really get in.


Clare said...

We should love one another as Christ loved us.If we do this many other things slot into place.
I personally do try to take some reflective time for myself before I go to church to worship our Living God.(preparation of the heart so to speak)