I’m a messy person. I’m not talking about a person who leaves clothes on the floor, though I have been known to do that from time to time. I mean, at my core, I’m a really, really, messy person. Growing up in the home of a Christian leader, I believed my older sister Amy was up to snuff and, I wasn’t. She became a Christian at a Billy Graham crusade while I said a quiet prayer while sitting on the potty (Truth). She picked incredibly wise friends while I ran off with the first boy who paid attention to me. Amy grew in wisdom, stature and favor with God and man (Luke 2:52) while I struggled with self-identity, integrity, character and internal peace. Even into our late teens and 20’s Amy set her sights on Bible College while I chose to party and reject God’s love and peace.
The crazy thing about the differences in our lives is that I always wanted to be more like my sister. I wanted the steadfast sense of direction she had. I wanted the quiet joy. I wanted all she had but I wasn’t willing to do what she did to find it — I wasn’t willing to trust in a savior that died on the “damn tree”. And, so, I continued stumbling through life searching for wholeness in volatile relationships, adrenaline surging jobs, partying and drama — none of which made me complete.
There is an emptiness that comes when you know the answer to your pain and yet you refuse to embrace it. An emptiness that gnaws at the depths of your soul. In the quiet of many nights I chose tears instead of the King of kings.
Finally, I came to the point where that savior on the tree was no longer deniable to me. That story is for another day, but for now, I will say, I ended up on my knees asking Jesus to rescue me and to change me from the inside out.
Now, it would be a perfect fairytale story if I told you from that moment my life was forever transformed. That’s not what happened with me. I still had volatile relationships, I still craved adrenaline surges, I liked to party and drama made me feel powerful. Years of living life one way weren’t instantly erased by my prayer. Deeply engrained habits often over road my heart’s desire to change. Instead though, over time, through gentle kindness and tender mercy, God began to soften my rough and abrasive edges.
Even with those edges softening, I was still so messy. Years after I prayed that prayer, I messed up my families finances and hid it from my husband. I lied to people when I thought they would judge me. I became easily angry when people didn’t agree with me or see things my ways. I was like a bull in a china shop. I just couldn’t do things right and often offended people with my plain speaking point of view. The one that I never offended though – was my savior on the tree. With every up and down, with every failure and with every out right sin I could look to Him and find nothing but his love and forgiveness.
Even today, decades after that prayer, I’m still a messy person. My family can surely confirm this to you. I’m so grateful that the struggle with self-identity has faded as have the deep integrity issues that once plagued me. You need to know though that by God’s grace, my character is still being shaped and refined and there is a need for growing peace within me. On my best days I can still stumble and bumble. I can utterly fail. I can out right sin. This is why on Good Friday, this messy, messy follower of Christ feels utterly overwhelmed and so deeply humbled by His sacrifice on that tree.
So today, in the quiet of my home, I say thank you Jesus for you willing sacrifice of your life for me. Thank you for seeing me, knowing me, having hope for me and understanding me. Thank you for loving me where I was, where I am, and where I will be. Thank you for choosing to love this messy, messy me. Thank you for being my Savior on the tree.