Tuesday, May 1, 2012

This Isn't My Mess!

Heather worked efficiently among the church ladies, giving directions about what to put where.
Cleaning out and organizing her mom’s house was a daunting task, but the church ladies were there, as church ladies often are, to help with what needed to be done.
She was dealing with years of neglect as well as a disorder where buying more things will somehow fill the void where a husband and grown children used be.
 Things were moving along slowly, but we were making progress. Suddenly, we heard sniffles and looked over to see Heather weeping. This strong and determined young mother was completely undone.
“I don’t want to do this, she wailed.
This is NOT MY MESS!
But…she’s my mother!”
We rushed over and offered our hugs and love and encouragement.
Obviously, the situation is difficult on many levels. Watching Heather’s daughter-struggle between complete frustration at her mom for letting things get to this state and, in the next moment, fierce protection and desire for her well-being tugged at my heart.
Can’t we all relate in our own crazy families?
Like being furious at my teenage son for not turning in a big project that seriously impacted his grade, yet loving him to the very core of my being.
Sometimes being in community means that we have to help clean up messes that we didn’t create.
I couldn’t help but think about the last week of Jesus’ life. That night in the garden, the night before his death, he asked his friends for a simple thing: please stay with me while I pray.
And these men, his homeys, his buds, his peeps – in their flawed humanness, they couldn’t stay awake with him.
So he prayed alone in that garden, knowing what the next twenty-four hours would hold.
Our Savior said,
           “Father, I don’t want to do this!
This is NOT MY MESS!
But they are my children.
If there is any other way…
But Your will be done."

What gift of grace that Heather didn’t say to her mom, “You made this mess, now you’re on your own to clean it up!”
And what a gift of Grace that Jesus knew we couldn’t clean up our mess, either. So He took care of it for us. And He continues to be with us, even in the midst of our ugly days, honoring the promise that He will never leave us, no matter how big our mess is.

Luke 22:42

42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Joshua 1:5
No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Reflection questions:
·        Is there an area of your life that feels like a mess right now? What would it take for you to surrender it to Jesus?
·        Have you even had to spend time and energy cleaning up a mess that you didn’t create or deserve to clean up? How did it make you feel? What were you able to learn from the experience?
·        Have others ever had to clean up your mess? How did you handle it? How did they?
·        If you could talk to Heather, what encouragement could you offer?


  1. To Heather,
    Moving forward in love -- despite the anger, despite the frustration, despite the despair you may feel -- is the greatest gift you can give your mother and yourself. Speaking from experience, and lessons it took a lifetime to learn and am still learning... God is so working with you and yours during this important time, and I'm grateful to have been a small part of it...

  2. I totally understand. I am still cleaning up the mess my mom left. I don't want to dishonor her memory in any way but she left me with a big task. I do see though that she had done a lot of cleaning up in the months before she died but still, her mess is now my mess. Not only am I coping the her loss, her mess, our crazy family stuff, my dad and his stuff but I have forgotten about MY STUFF - the stuff that drags me to therapy once a month. The burden for Heather is huge - in some way she may even feel responsible because she didn't pay attention to this mess that has now become her mess. Yes, I often wonder, how did we get here again?

    My darkest days have been the most recent ones when I just think that I cannot carry one more thing. The reality is that I have been made strong in other areas of my life so that I could carry this load - I have a strong husband, good kids, and loving friends who would totally stay awake with me - only if I would ask them to. I know that I am held in thought and prayer daily. I know that this time will pass and I will rise again but for now, I have to press on in hope of that resurrection.

    I cling to a promise God made to me in Isaiah - I will never forget you, my people, I have carved you on the palm of my hand. I will never forget you; I will not leave you orhpaned, I will never forget my own.

    I cannot help but to think and believe that this is also a time of healing in my family. I believe that God allows these "opportunites" if you will, to look to Him for constant guidance and direction. If this process, and I believe it is, is part of purification then I have to look at this as gift - even though somedays, I would really like to return it and get my money back.

    Heather is in my prayers daily. In her daughter-struggle, she just may find a new relationship with her mom; one of forgivenesss, acceptance, and understanding - something Cindy so desparetely needs.

    So my prayer goes up for all mothers and daughters (and sons) that we all love each other the best we can - especially when it's hard, painful and down right awful. May the healing power of God rest upon all of us and bring us to new life in the resurrection.

    In Peace,

  3. Thank you for sharing!! I read this when you posted and realized that I often think this way about my students (not consciously and in the same way) but still the same. Often blaming their parents and other situations rather than stepping in and being there for them to help "clean up their messes" I am so grateful you posted such thought provoking ideas and words. Many blessings!! Hugs!