Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever have the words I need to convey all that is going on inside my mind. I scarcely believe I have any of it figured out myself, much less have the ability to pen those thoughts in some intelligible way. Recently, my mind has wandered to the reality of the weight of the written language. How many times have I read a book, only to be immersed in the story, eagerly turning the next page to find out what happens next? How often have I been caught literately laughing out loud, or wiping the tears from my eyes while reading a story someone else has written? I have been moved in compassion, tugged by sympathy, and all too often silently whispered "me too" in response to the end of a chapter. How I long to wonderfully string together such a story that leaves the audience captured. But then I begin to doubt. To shake my head and think that I have nothing to write about. Nothing worth reading. But you see, everyone has a story, and those are the ones I enjoy the most. The beautiful unfinished messes of people's lives that ache with honesty. The stories that are raw and real and don't always have a happy ending. Those are the ones I continually come back to.
A while back, after seeing the movie, a friend asked why I enjoyed The Perks of Being a Wallflower so very much as, well, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. And then again with The Fault in Our Stars the question arose, and I began to wonder why myself. But the reality is that I love these stories because I can see a bit of myself in each of them. I am the wallflower who sees things and thinks the world should take notice as well. I'm one who tends to keep others at bay, lest I become a grenade of imploding sickness. As Charlie's teacher reminds us, “We accept the love we think we deserve” and we live in a reality where paradoxes are more common than absolutes. As Charlie reflects, speaking truth when he types “So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be”, I am reminded that the beauty of humanity is that there are trials. There are failures, but there are also victories. There is sadness, but there is also unending joy.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately, especially in this new season of my career. If you follow along on Instagram, you'll have seen our big news, and hopefully you'll have seen my complete joy in it. What you may not see however, is that leading up to this point has been work. Hard work. And patience. There have been tears, injuries, stress, missed opportunities, long nights, and lots of decisions. This has been something I have been dreaming for and working towards since I walked across the stage at graduation. I found the image below and have had it as my desktop background for a while as a reminder that regardless of where I go in my career, or what my title is, the reality is that those roles do not limit me. In everything I do, my goal is to be the light of Christ to others; serving and loving as Jesus did, proclaiming His truth with my words and my actions. As a BCBA, as a friend, a small group leader, as a blogger... In this world driven by social media we have such a tendency to to show only the finished product. The perfect shot. We leave out the failures in hopes that no one ever uncovers our secret that we have fallen short. We hide behind labels, titles, and positions to define our stories, neglecting the reality that even Jesus wept and grieved, and prayed for guidance as well. We scold ourselves for not meeting the expectations set forth by others, but we miss the mark when we focus on pleasing people rather than glorifying God. It is in the unfinished mess that He works. That He molds, and creates, and shapes us into His image. If we were perfect already, then we wouldn't need Him.
So moving forward, I ask that you join me in celebrating the unfinished messes of life. The spilled coffee, dirty laundry, sticks in the living room, unmade bed kind of messes. But also the growing to-do list, missed phone calls, cancelled lunch dates, hurt feelings, and shortcomings as well. That we would not dwell on these issues, but that we would embrace them. Learn from them. And find joy in knowing that our failures do not define us and more than our successes do. We are defined by the grace of God for a greater purpose, and for that I am thankful!
In my new role, I know I am going to have more work to do. More meetings. Less time. More deadlines. Simply more responsibilities. But in the messy work of continuing to figure out how to balance a career, a family, and a passion, I am assured that His beauty will be made evident every step of the way. And I can't wait to see what He has in store.
How do you find beauty in the unfinished messes of life?