A Note from Chris Adams: As a leader, have you ever had a really messy moment? Or probably if you are like me, you’ve had many of those! Many of the women you work with and serve are in the middle of a mess. Today, Dr. Deb Douglas (First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA) shares one of her messy moments and what God taught her since then about His grace in the messiness of life.
Thirty one years ago I got caught in the messiness of life. With a newborn baby, a much loved mother dying of cancer, a husband who worked more hours than he was home, and a lifetime of unresolved issues, things got messy. And there were witnesses. It was not pretty.
I was having a major OCD moment complete with a hissy fit (meaning I was yelling irrationally and self-righteously) over the messiness of my son’s closet. Did I mention that my newborn was only 2 days old?
Maybe it was because the air conditioning had quit in our brand new house, and it was September, which is the hottest month in the South. But I lost it.
And those witnesses? They were my always perfect, high heel wearing, suit sporting aunt and uncle who had stopped by to make a social call on the newest member of the family. They heard it all. What could I do but go sit and act like my robe was not covered in breast milk or that my wild hair was not in need of a brush or that I was not sweating in places I had previously never sweated? Who knows where my toothbrush had been, but it certainly had not been in my mouth that day. I was a mess. I looked a mess. My life was a mess. I didn’t know it on that day, but it was going to get even messier, very fast.
Thirty one years later, I think about that day and wish things could have frozen for a moment. I wish the older me could talk to the younger me and tell her I would not be scarred for life by that moment. Maybe then I would have realized that in the midst of the mess, I needed some grace from myself. Grace to accept some realities: Life was not perfect. But that’s OK. I was not meeting my unrealistic expectations for life and for myself. But that was OK. I was not superwoman. But that was OK.
There are women everywhere who have gotten caught in a messy moment, a moment of being imperfectly human. Many of those messy moments will be much more involved, complicated, and harmful than a hissy-fit moment. An affair. A sin. A deceitful moment.
Unfortunately, many women will never get to the point where we can let go of our messy moments because we do not understand them.
A messy moment:
- Does not define who we are. We all make mistakes. We all sin.
- Does not have to be the moment when our lives fell apart. We can allow the moment to impact every other decision we ever make like hiding, quitting church, running from marriage, or giving up on life. Or, we can deal with the moment and move on.
- Does not have to shape our future. We can choose to move on from messy.
A messy moment:
- Can be forgotten or forgiven.
- Can be a catalyst for positive change.
- Can be a moment when we understand God’s grace.
We can move on from the messy moments. Moving past messy starts with:
- Prayer asking forgiveness for the sin involved in the messy moment.
- Asking for courage to continue.
- Asking for God’s grace and forgiveness.
- Asking for God’s strength to get through.
- Talking to someone. Talk about what happened, why it happened, who was involved, and how you can move on.
- Accepting that we are thinking about the messy moment more than others are. Just like our moms told us in elementary school, other people do not think about us as much as we think they do.
- Asking forgiveness and grace from those impacted.
- Seeking out healing for our souls from Scripture. Read the Psalms.
- Resolving to give grace to ourselves by reevaluating our expectations on ourselves, accepting God’s forgiveness, and allowing the event to stay in the past.
Messy moments are prime targets for the seductive ways of Satan. Watch out! He will try to convince us that we cannot forgive ourselves for what has happened. The reality is that God’s forgiveness is what we need. God is faithful to forgive us when we ask. At times we may not feel forgiven, but our feelings do not change God’s fact. He says if we ask for forgiveness, He does it. Done deal. Don’t doubt it! Accept His forgiveness and in time, the feeling of forgiveness will follow.
Life does get messy. We will not live through this life without getting caught in our own messy moments. We can either allow those moments to define us or we can move on to see how God can turn a messy moment into a moment in the story of God’s grace for us.
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
Dr. Deb Douglas has served in women’s ministry for over 37 years. Now she spends her time working with Purchased Ministry, a ministry to women in the sex trade industry. Deb is also the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA. She was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters degree focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.