As the kids and I drove home from a late night Target trip for baby formula, I rolled down my window and felt for the first time this season, the crisp autumn breeze that will carry winter in on its tail. I loved it and hated it at the same time. I love fall and all the things that come with it. Sweet September has been a month full treasures for our family. But winter is coming and knowing that the darkness will be thick makes me want to curl up in bed and hibernate.
I’ve been reminded this week that there is no sure foundation for me outside of the Gospel. Maybe with the change of seasons, a new unknown, God brings a reminder of what I can count on. When I try to find security, identity, or peace in my performance, my possessions, or my relationships, I wind up feeling homeless. But when I make myself at home in the good news of the Gospel, I can rest with a full heart.
Thursday morning I read a Proverb, “Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.” (14:4) And scribbled next to the tiny font was a note I had jotted down years ago, “The Gospel thrives in the messiness of my life.”
My girlfriends and I met for coffee later that morning and shared our messes. I’m so thankful for them. We are all juggling ALL the things. We talked about kids with anxiety and husbands we love who drive us a little crazy (and being married to us isn’t exactly a walk in the park – ha!). We talked about houses and cars and jobs. We talked about being tired and overwhelmed and confused. The proverb I had read that morning was swirling through my brain.
Oxen or cattle basically stink. They are messy and smell like literal sh**. Frankly, there are some things in my life right now that smell exactly the same. Broken cars, hard parenting, sleepless nights, anxious thoughts, empty bank accounts, and the list goes on. To be honest, I spend a lot of time praying that they would all get better, easier, lighter.
But with a strong ox, comes a large harvest.
I’m being reminded that I need the mess. It’s a must. A mandate. I don’t even think God calls it a mess. I think He just calls it life lived well. It doesn’t stress him out or exhaust him. He isn’t plugging his nose wishing it would get cleaned up.
In the mess of the stable, two thousand years ago, in the midst of the sh**, is where He chose to arrive on the scene. He clearly isn’t offended by it.
The Good News that I am loved dearly by God, spoken for by the precious blood of His Son, and set free to live in his tenderness meets me and keeps me in the mess. The Gospel is where I am truly at home. Dirty dishes piled on my counter, utter mom fails, harsh words, a muffin top that won’t go away, and some really abrasive words and thoughts, they are all safe and sound wrapped up in the loving arms of Abba, who is so busy loving me that He doesn’t have time to be disappointed I can’t clean up my mess.
When my Bitty wrote me a story this morning, all of her ‘S’s were backwards. I wasn’t annoyed or disappointed in her lack of perfect penmanship, I was delighted by all of her. I have a million backwards ‘S’s in my life right now and I bet you do too. I just wanted to invite you this morning, to quit trying to fix them all. And quit trying to sweep your mess under the rug! Right here, this is where the Gospel is alive and well. This is where the love of God meets us and keeps us. This is where we can cozy up to God and tell Him all the things and ask Him all the questions. No need to clean it up or make it Pinterest perfect. No need to hustle or hoard. Just rest here. Or come over and rest with me in my mess if you would rather! As long as you don’t mind the smell of my mess, I promise I won’t mind the smell of yours either.
And as always, here are a few pictures of life lately….thanks for stopping by!
2 thoughts on “When life stinks a little…(or a lot)”
Perfect word! Thank you!
Love this Maddy! It made me remember a time Jeff got a truckload of manure to put on our garden (in town!) Our neighbors weren’t very happy with us but we just knew how great our garden was going to produce because of all the smelly stuff worked into the soil. Love you guys so much- praying for you in this stinky part, knowing your life garden is going to be bountiful with good things. ❤