Over six years ago, I was a naive 17-year-old who was dependent on perfection and the approval of others. I wanted to be the perfect daughter, student, sister, friend, band nerd, employee, and the list goes on. I did whatever it took to make the best grades I could, I worked to pay for everything I could, helped around the house, did my best to take care of my brothers and sisters, strived to be the best in band and everything else I was a part of and in the process of all that got very little sleep, didn’t have much of a social life and stuck to what was familiar instead of pursuing anything new or different [I promise this is not a page dedicated to run on sentences and me tooting my own horn…it’s safe to read on].
At 17 I made my way to Galveston for school at A&M as that same naive person and met an unfamiliar world that was so far outside my comfort zone because it was messy and because I had done my best to stay far away from anything “bad” and hide in a bubble of “good”.
When I made it to TAMUG I quickly realized I couldn’t avoid it anymore. The bad. And yet I still found a way to. For the month I was at A&M in 2010, I stuck to the couple of friends I had made and that was my bubble and comfort until I left. Until l said an incredibly difficult goodbye.
Fast forward a year a half to a slightly different me and a life interrupted by a boy with a song. Fast forward to a family who comforted me through the crazy despite having met me one time and who helped me find my way back to Galveston. When I made it back to in 2012 I was immediately thrown into the messy I had been so determined to avoid two years prior. In fact I spent a good two years running in and out of the messy and ultimately becoming a person that the old me would have uncomfortably and timidly avoided. Growing up I had been an incredibly judgmental person without even thinking twice about it because I had silently convinced myself that my judgement was just discernment and me choosing to do the right thing. Yet, in 2012 I found myself in a place of every other day regret and shame…
Today I took a look in the mirror and started crying
It screamed at me that shame is the name of the game
And if shame is the game, then I am success
Each tear drop reminisced on moments from my past
And I watched them roll down my cheeks
As I hated that I hated the sight of me
There is a pile of verses inside my mind
That tell me over and over just what my Father sees when He looks at me
But no matter the stack of words so sweet, that is not what I see
He removed my transgressions but I hold them close
He shows me grace and compassion
But I cannot forgive myself
You painted a face on my mirror that looks like a lost girl in a bar
Slurred words shot down by alcohol
You pieced the reflection together like a puzzle of regret
Moments I cannot change lead me down a path of darkness
And for awhile, I walk forward into the black hole that has become my life
Just as you would like…
Each day I woke up with the struggle of my own reflection and bad decisions that boldly peered back at me. Each day I woke up hating myself and yet, each day, I put the record on repeat, retraced my steps down the same path that was now familiar and picked up a full shot glass empty of anything good and like a key, it unlocked more decisions empty of anything good. Everything unlocked led to lost morals, friendships, standards, goals and a silent relationship with God.
And even still, you’ll never hear me call those moments mistakes, for a few reasons. For one, a mistake is something you accidentally do. I knew exactly what I was doing and I take full responsibility for that. The other part of that is that I don’t regret those moments. I don’t want any taksey backsies or rewinds and you won’t hear me shy away from saying that was my life. Six years ago I had no idea how to love people unless they strived for the same things I did, the “good”.
…Each day I wake up and you call me backwards
Grinning as if waiting for me to become a pile of salt
But I open my eyes and realize my Father promises so much more
I am a new creation despite sins that are as scarlet
Which He has washed white as snow, proudly proclaiming
“And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:17)
Six years ago I looked in a mirror and saw myself as something more than those around me and I sit here today humbly and gratefully knowing I’m not better than anyone. Today I sit here able to say that I’m incredibly messy and I love people who are messy just like me. More importantly, so does He! I wish I could say God was able to teach me those things under different circumstances and with me having made different decisions but I’m thankful everything happened just as it did.
I sit here able to love the messy today because there were people who took a chance on me when I was in that place 17-year-old me never dreamed I would be. They weren’t afraid to say what needed to be said and love messy me. Even after my journey to a different path, I still wondered at times how God could possibly use my story until I was asked to share a small portion of it with my church family. God can and will use your story if you let Him and it is the most humbling place to be.
To those afraid of the unfamiliar and dirty, messy, or bad things, I challenge you to realize the dirt under your own nails. Until you figure out you’re messy and dirty, you’ll be missing out on the incredible opportunity to love so many. [Even if you have to look with a magnifying glass, I promise the dirt is there.]
To those who recognize the dirt, don’t be ashamed. By hiding your mess, you’re hiding the absolutely wonderful testimony God sent His Son for. It’s never going to be nor has it ever been about your works.
“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18
He loves messy.