Life is almost always a mess. Even if it’s a more positive one, a mess usually needs to be dealt with. I often do not deal with messes well: they can usually signal a change and I really do not like change. A mess can mean uncertainty and interruption and I really do not like when life is uncertain and interrupted.
For a long time, I have lived quite snuggly in my own comfort zone. I had told many people I would never move away from our small (ish) coastal town. I was happy and comfortable in my predictable, uneventful, certain life.
But, it appears God has had other plans. This year has become the year my life gets a messy upheaval. Trusting God really was opening a door for me, I made the decision that would take me away from my comfort zone, provide enough uncertainties to set off panic attacks, and say good-bye to a predictable routine. I had decided to commit to travel overseas for 6 months. The idea is exciting. But the process is messy. For myself, a melancholy, joy is not a natural reaction for me especially in messes.
Two months ago my house was a complete and utter mess. I watched on as box after box was filled up and taped shut. Each box was weighed and carefully manoeuvred over to the lounge room corner where our DVD shelves once sat. Nothing was normal about our house anymore, and nothing was normal about our lives.
My bedroom was taken over by various piles-what I was going to take with me, what I will have packed away and what I was going to let go of. Our dining room was taken over by empty boxes and shredded paper to be used as padding, so we began to eat regularly in the lounge-room. Many times I struggled with these big changes, with this new ‘messy’ life. I think we all felt tense trying to balance walking around random things and boxes we had strewn over the floor.
There have been many unknowns I have had to deal with which has provoked plenty of anxiety. But more than that, the fact that I was going to America wasn’t actually finalised until a couple weeks ago. All along I knew I wanted to go. I believed God had worked incredibly in my life to be at peace with such a big yet easy decision. I knew this would be a great opportunity for me on so many different levels. But instead of trusting, and instead of feeling excitement, I had come to a place of ‘what ifs’. I realised I didn’t know what my future looked like and I began feel anxious, out of control and constant worry. Battling the mammoth to-do lists while normal life goes on. The preparation of saying good-byes and leaving a life behind, even temporarily. It certainly weighs heavily on one’s heart. It is often not a natural response to find joy.
But God calls us to be joyful in all times.
I haven’t found it easy, and one bible verse springs to mind as I reflect back on these messy few months: ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.’ Romans 13:15.
Trust in the mess?
When there is a mess, I like to fix it. I like to be in control and know what is going to happen. I like to know what I’m going to have for dinner in a week’s time. And where I am going to be in 6 months. But this has been a time of God gently pushing me to trust Him instead of my own strength.
I have needed to accept that I cannot be in control and plan my whole life but trust that He has a plan. The amazing thing happens when you suddenly do feel a sense of peace over knowing someone bigger and better has a plan and will guide you, if you are willing and let Him. I have found joy in stopping in the midst of the messes to spend time in the presence of God knowing He knows my inner concerns and worries. To fly 3000 miles overseas is a massive challenge for me. But there is incredible joy knowing my Heavenly Father is carefully orchestrating the little and the big pieces together to make this happen for me. There is joy in knowing a desire I had once upon a time is being fulfilled. There is joy in trusting that even if the door becomes closed, God will open up a new one and will lead me.
Though life is messy and there are still many unknowns, there is joy in being challenged to trust God and see my faithful Heavenly Father act and lead me in His ways. There is joy in the mess.
Thank you to Katie for sharing her story today!