“Crap, ok. If I make it out the door in the next ten minutes I should be fine,” I said to myself as I once again frantically prepared for work. I should have already been out the door, yet I was still finalizing my outfit and applying whatever makeup I could to look more awake than I felt. Nothing says bright-eyed and bushy-tailed quite like defined eyebrows, right?
“Got my breakfast… or do I? OK, yup I do. Lunch is packed. Alright to time go.” Quickly I throw on my oversized backpack, filled with notebooks and snacks to make it through the day, and hustle toward the elevator.
Finally I’m at the train station, waiting in a line that feels like eternity, to refill my Metrocard. Only one woman stands in between me and upcoming 2 train and yet she’s fumbling through her many credit cards to pay for her fare. I shift my weight from one hip to the other, sighing as I do, as if to signal to her that time is of the essence. I know, I had some nerve.
“I’m so over myself,” I thought while checking my watch as the 2 train makes its way uptown, expressing disapproval at my ongoing antics.
I’ve been such a hot mess lately: a muddle of poor time management, irresponsibility, and sleep deprivation. Shoutout to concealer and wrinkle-free fabric softener, because without it my thrown-together appearance would be as much of a mess as my to-do list. I have become the embodiment of the “This is fine” meme, as the pressure from the tasks I procrastinate on have begun to close in.
Graduation is only a few short months away and I'd be lying if I didn't say I googled another degree program, not necessarily for my love of academia, but to put off adulthood a few more years. This of course would not be a good idea thanks to my lack of discipline lately. If I’m not late, then I’m running late (which has been a hidden blessing thanks to all the calories my FitBit says I burn). If I’m not over school, then I’m feeling completely over school.
The other morning I asked God to fix the hot mess express that I have become. I no longer want to put the "pro" in procrastination or the "fun" in dysfunctional. I am tired of trying to conjure up my own grace to balance all that is on my plate. My pseudo-grace was all based on merely the appearance of being strong while frantically trying to hold the pieces of my life together.
True grace is a gift from God and God alone. It saves us, sustains us, and empowers us to do that which we can't do in our strength. As God shared with Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). There is no magic to this, there is only His grace.
I had to come to the end of my complacent self, because waking up ready to rush my day in order to get back to bed is not a way to live. And at some point, I began to get sick of making up excuses as to why I was dragging myself in late for work or school.
When you live in NYC, train delays are a weak excuse because well, the trains are almost always delayed.
A few years ago around Easter Sunday, I overheard the cashier at my local grocery store inviting a customer to her church. His response was hesitant in nature, expressing how he needed to sort some things out in his life first before he went back to church. As if she knew he would say that, the cashier immediately replied, "If Jesus thought we could have gotten our own lives together, He wouldn't have had to die for us." That exchange in the express line still resonates with me when I feel my life has gone off course.
One of the things I love about God is that I am never alone in my disarray. He is always there, waiting for me to confess my mess and hand it over to Him. When we find ourselves off track, He convicts us. Not to condemn us like prisoners or allow us to marinate in guilt, but for us to course correct. Condemnation sentences us to a path to self-deprecation, while conviction provides a path to hope and rebuilding.
God is in the business of redeeming of hot messes. The Bible tells many stories of men and women who made a mess of their lives, and how they reconciled with Him to find their divine purpose. Perhaps one of my favorite moments comes from the story of Abraham. He wasn't always known as the Father of Faith that we know him to be. After he and his wife Sarah grew impatient in their old age waiting on the son God promised them, they decided to take matters into their own hands. Abraham instead bore a son with Hagar, Sarah's handmaid. To make a long story short, it led to quite the drama. But years later, God speaks to Abraham, "I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless."
Blameless. That word echoed within me as I read it.
After God asserted Himself as sovereign and powerful, and therefore in control, He did not pronounce judgment upon Abraham or chastise him. Instead he told Abraham to walk before Him blameless, moving with integrity. This is how God wants us to walk day to day. When we take God's promises into our own hands, we can make a hot mess of our lives.
From the moment I set foot on campus for a visit, I knew God was going to fulfill His will and promise by opening the door to further my education. With God's promises comes His provision to make it happen. But rather than rely on Him to sustain me, I often try to take His promise into my own hands by relying on my own strength. Like thinking I can complete an eight-page paper in one night, or make it through a full day of internship on 5 hours of sleep. As a result I've been fumbling through my final semester as if graduation isn't just a few months away. Like the customer in the grocery store line, I do need to get my life together. But unlike him, I'll allow my Redeemer to do the fixing.
By His grace, I'm through with being a hot mess. And if I am going to go through struggle, let it be for His kingdom and not my shenanigans.