Our Beautiful Mess
May 5, 2014
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
-C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
I wasn’t going to get a puppy.
Nope. I was going to adopt an older dog, one who had gone through the puppy stage of chewing and house training and all that is, well, puppy and who could fit neatly into my life.
That was my plan, anyway. But love always has other ideas. My relationship with God is frequently based on my plans and God’s saying, “Yeah, whatever.”
Evie, as you can guess, is a puppy. Not a baby puppy, but about to turn a year old. And she has a busy little mouth. The cable wire is a frequent focus of her affection, and my furniture is covered with a vast array of mismatched blankets to limit her redecoration ideas. Alas, one chair that has long needed recovering received a great deal of her attention. Apparently the older, dated fabric is just too enticing to little puppy mouths.
She got a few pairs of shoes. None that attractive, according to a close friend. His remark when I said the Tevas had met with Evie doom: At least she knows not to chew the pretty shoes.
Yes, life is a bit more chaotic and messy since I let love into my home in the form of a terrier mix named Evie. But I noticed something one day as I realized my living room floor is also the graveyard of de-stuffed toys: I liked the mess.
I like it because it isn’t just a mess. It’s a beautiful mess that comes with love.
This form of the mess will pass, I’m sure (I hope), this particular messy and chewy and busy little pup will grow and change. But the authentic joy and love she brings comes with the mess, the upheaval, the destruction, even, of what was neat and tidy and orderly.
We forget that, don’t we? That love is a bit messy. A lot messy, actually. That the love that rose from the tomb on Easter Day didn’t quietly and neatly fit into the lives of all whom it encountered. It messed up things. Whatever lives the disciples had planned changed that day when Jesus appeared ALIVE.
Whatever plans we have often change when Jesus and love appear in our lives. Perhaps one reason change is so fearful for us is that it’s messy. It brings a particular sense of upheaval and disorder and vulnerability. Love does that. We can’t really control the mess. At best, we manage it. Maybe we even stand in the midst of it and feel vulnerable and scared and wonder why everything that we’ve worked so hard to put together just right is now, well, in a mess.
God likes messes. Clearly, because we humans are beautiful messes. We chew on each other and ourselves and leave marks. We leave the stuff of our chaos all over the place, and God is in it with us because God is in love with us.
Maybe a question of this Easter love is can we be in love with our beautiful messes, the chaotic and disorderly and untidy parts of ourselves? Or will we wrap up that love in barbed wire and hide it away, fearful of showing God and anyone else the mess that we all are.
Can we see our beautiful messes as part of love?
Can you see God in the beautiful mess? Yours, the world’s, whatever? Seeing God in the mess is not always easy. Take a picture of something that looks messy where you see God and share on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook with #beautifulmess
Just what I needed to hear today. Thank you Laurie for keeping it real!
Phew. That CS Lewis quote made my little Romance Writer heart swoon. Yes! And yes. I could probably use to remember this example of your puppy when my house is strewn with toddler toys–the disarray, the utter refusal of EVERYTHING in my house to remain organized–all of that is sacrament because it is a sign that God has blessed me with all the messy love of motherhood for which I longed.
Thanks Laurie, I needed this 🙂
Mary Ann Overturf
As most of my house is covered in Project Linus blankets and Cate’s quilts this morning, I needed to hear that love is what created this mess. Thanks!
Well, I’m it in my house……no puppy…no person/friend/housemate/…just moi and mountains of things that are moving from the realm of stuff to hoarding. A real friend has offered herself to help me first keep and preserve what I wish to keep and then to discard what should go. Much different from the offers to first “….come over there and throw away all that stuff you don’t need ,,,!!!” Big difference in the two approaches and you can figure out which offer I accepted. Messiness has two sides and the real friend’s offer is another way of determining beautiful mess and just the mess of solitude and loneliness and being closed up and walled off from the offering based on respect and friendship and love. It’s good that God likes messes as well as one who is messy.
I agree to a point. A puppy, a dog or even a child or any person will bring a mess into one’s life and on consideration may lead to God but where now I really see a mess is in Syria and I cannot see how contemplating that mess can help to lead me to God but rather to His absence.
I absolutely love this reading!!!! Without love, we might be less messy, but extremely lonely!! Thank you Laurie for reminding us how important Love is to have and to give.
George E. Hilty
Beautifully said: can we love the untidy, disorderly, even chaotic parts of ourselves? When we don’t, we often project those unlovely characteristics onto others and act out our disapproval, contempt, anger on others. “Love your neighbor as yourself” has multiple levels of meaning: one of its most profound is the spiritual/psychological insight that each of us is a microcosm of humanity with many “selves” and we need to love the messy “selves” within so that we can truly love the messy selves outside.
Lovely. Thank you.