Have you ever seen a kid with a paintbrush in hand, creating and playing? It can be straight-up messy. A toddler at dinner; eating spaghetti or outside in the dirt and grass at play. Full of laughter and play, and yet a beautiful mess.
Growing up, I disliked being outside, still do. I’d much rather blame it on South Georgia humidity and a neverending swarm of gnats, but It was much more to it than I’d like to admit at the time. Eventually, I hate to make mistakes, in art class, drilling myself to stay inside the lines, in cheer practice to nail the perfect routine, pressure me to mix the perfect shades of color, and the list continues. The truth is I’m not a fan of getting messy and dirty.
I was weighed down with the weight of perfection, hoping for some satisfaction. I wanted to arrive, not sure where to be exact, but I dreamed of a place where I could be free, free to be, free to play, laugh, and be.
My childhood was not like that; the enemy came and took everything I could desire. Truly I began to water the lie that I would drown in my mess if I ever opened up or looked at it. Silent and Afraid. I gathered myself and put it on a shelf, never thought to look, feel, nor ask. The mess was still there, just not in sight. I beautifully wrapped it in striving and performance until a roadblock pierced its way down my road.
As a former phase 1 student of the 18 Inch Journey, we were invited into a rhythm of stewarding the land we called home for that season, which included a couple of hours a week in the garden. I don’t enjoy being outside, let alone putting my hands in the dirt. In his generosity, the Holy Spirit wanted me to face the mess that was always there. This time not alone, but with him.
The gift of gardening is caring for the soil and the well-being of the garden and its harvests. It was and still is an accurate depiction of our hearts and how we must care for them daily.
I was standing in the deep woods of North Carolina, staring at the dirt. My immediate instinct was to retreat and flee, fearful that the Lord would shout and scream at how much of a failure I had been, but it was the absolute opposite.
He arrived with splendor and a joyous smile. He was ready to dive in and asked, “What if what you long for is found in a mess?” So the Lord and I gathered our shovels and got to work.
“And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” (Isaiah 58:11 ESV)
We pulled up weeds that were robbing the life from my fruit, chopped down branches that were blocking the sun, and cleared away debris that was cluttering my heart. My heart’s soil was becoming soft to receive. Wave after wave of his kindness washed over my heart, his devotion piercing the accuser’s lies to the position wherein my heart began to believe the truth.
GET IN THE DIRT and allow the Lord to take control; Even if it takes you time to finish.
My mess reveals the lies I believe to be true about God, myself, and those around me. Mess that saw God more as a dictator than a father, Lies that believe I was not good enough, that fuels perfection in my life, I am still in the process of healing.
In crucial moments where I want to quit and give up, I continue to find what I always long for; Freedom. Freedom to play, make mistakes, freedom to dream, and freedom to be. I met the fierce shepherd who goes to battle for you and me. The shepherd who does not sit on the sidelines but who is in a mess with us. I am still coming to know this fierce shepherd, learning new ways of doing things. To step into this freedom daily requires me not to be afraid of the mess. It is hard to take that leap. The father waits patiently, even when it may take days when I wrestle with perfection; God woos me in every time and gives me the courage to get messy again and again.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters; he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:1-4 NIV)
We are dirty sheep who need a Shepherd who cleans us daily. Sheep have a coating of oil called Lanolin; this oil covers the sheep wool to withstand certain climates, but the oil can harbor all things we don’t like, such as grass, dirt, dust, and bugs. Sheep are not like most animals who can clean themselves; the sheep would continue to sit in filth until someone cleans them.
That is a beautiful picture of our walk with Christ. If you feel like your past is too stained, or you are too dirty for God to save, I am here to tell you, God has promised to cleanse us, making us new, white as snow. We obtain this not in our efforts but because he first loved us.
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (Ephesians 1:4 -7 NIV)
Maybe today, you are seeking to be loved without conditions. To be fully known, fought for, and forgiven to know that your life has meaning and purpose that births nearness with Jesus. Where you no longer hide or self protect Where you come to Jesus in your most authentic self. What if the unraveling is worth it?
The unraveling is messy, pressing, yet beautiful.
My question is, “What if what you’ve always longed for is found and received in a joyful mess?”
It is in the undoing that we become.
Become more like Jesus, walking into what he calls us each to do in our uniqueness, being a light in the darkness, and proclaim his glory throughout the earth.
“Lord, in my place of weakness and need, I ask again: Will you come and help me? I know I’m always in your thoughts. You are my faithful Savior and hero, so don’t delay to deliver me now, for you are my God.” (Psalms 40:17 TPT)
My encouragement to you is to ask the Lord for help. I am learning that asking for help is the most powerful and life-changing thing I could ever ask.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1 NIV)
My prayer is that this post is an invitation for each of you to come to know the fierce and gentle shepherd that Jesus is. That as you continue to read, hear, and believe in the truth, that its arrows pierce the lies that have kept your mind and heart captive. I pray for freedom over your life and in areas where you may believe the Lord is uninterested. I pray that these are not just beautiful words; I pray that this becomes your reality. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Victoria Dynasty James is a friend of God. You can always find her giving encouraging words on Instagram @victoria.dynasty and in person. Her prayer is that others will come to know the value of friendship with Jesus.