how to find Okay in your twenty-something mess

LATELY I’ve just felt messy. More than usual.

Do you ever feel that way? Just… chaotic?

Unacceptable?

Inappropriate, uncool, out of context, uncomfortable, socially awkward, confused, blemished, blunder-prone…

I could go on.

As a twentysomething trying to establish myself in a city, there are times when I’m like, YEAH, I’m doing this twenties thing just fine. I’m cool. I’m adult. I’ve got this. Let’s do this. And then at some point I realize I don’t know what in the actual heck I am doing.

I think most of us like to believe we don’t fall under the category of messy.

Let’s be real, I LOVE when things are going my way. Don’t you? When I am smooth and charming, when I say the right thing, when I look in the mirror and like what I see, when I feel secure in what I think about the world and life and political issues and God and myself.

Even just writing this, I’m like… gosh, why am I putting my messy thoughts out for the world to see? Shouldn’t I keep quiet and maintain the facade that I’m put together, and like everyone else refrain from drawing attention to my imperfections?

But hey, that’s just not who I’m called to be. I want to be real so that you can be real too.

So… We’re back to square one: Hi I’m Jordan, I feel messy.

You know what I tend to do when I feel messy? Criticize.

I criticize myself, first and especially, but then others too because that’s just how we operate as humans. I start trying to reach all these standards and subconsciously all day long that critical voice mumbles low and threatening, about how I SHOULD be and what I SHOULD be doing. You know the voice. I know you do.

Finally, and it might take minutes or days or weeks or even months (those are the messiest times amiright), I reach the threshold where I can’t take my “yuck” anymore. And I get all overwhelmed and mopey and gosh why can’t I just get my shit together Carol, then suddenly — it dawns on me.

Grace.

Jesus is real.

What? It’s okay? Everyone’s messy? My fumbling through life doesn’t disqualify me from goodness?

What? What.

Thank GOD.

It’s like hearing it for the first time all over again.

And then I can breathe. Living in light of grace is so much better. Why don’t we do that all the time? Huh?

Maybe you do, good for you.

But for the majority of us (people I know at least), grace seems to be difficult to remember.

And you know why I think that is?

  1. Social media = highlight reel of people’s lives. We “see” people we don’t “see” in real life all the time, but only on the internet, and only the parts of their lives that they want you to see. They don’t broadcast the argument they just had with their girlfriend, or how they tripped over their words last time they were trying to explain something important.
  1. Christian culture. Sorry to pick on us for a second, but can I just state something I think we all already know? We are of a faith that preaches second chances, and grace, and how undesirable qualities do not disqualify you from the in-crowd (aka Jesus’ squad), but then we also kinda do this little hipster-dress-code, avoiding-certain-topics, only-inviting-the-people-we-are-comfy-with… thing.

This isn’t new. But I’m just saying it again so we might be a little more aware, and be reminded to actively push against this.

I have been intentionally walking with Jesus for almost four years now. That’s not a very long time… from the time in my life when I decided I was too messy to keep trying on my own, when I realized I’d exhausted my options, was in dire straits, in need of saving. But somehow, as I learned more and moved through different communities and was given spiritual leadership positions and grew up a little, I began to think that I wasn’t as messy as when I started. That somehow, I didn’t need Jesus as much as I did Day One.

But guess what. False.

This is culture, not truth.

Lecrae gets it: “I’m not a Christian because I’m strong and have it all together. I’m a Christian because I’m weak and admit I need a Savior.”

My need never changed. My level of inability to function without Christ never changed. So why do I walk around trying to prove that I’m Okay on my own?

I wanted to ask these questions here because I think we all do this a little bit. It’s one of those things that we don’t really talk about… especially Christians. And that’s why I’m talking about it.

I’m thankful that God gives us revelation and wisdom, that He teaches us and sanctifies us and that after years of walking beside/trotting behind him, we can look and act really different. I believe that there is such power to become less messy, and more functional, in the name of Jesus. But also — you are human. I am human. We will always, while on this earth, come back to our own metaphorical Ground Zero of ashes and messiness and pain and great need. But that’s okay, because He’s got it covered. Literally.

If you are feeling messy today, or this week, or this month, or if you are like me and your messiness is because your whole year has just been throwing off your groove and cramping your style at the same exact time… I want you to know you aren’t alone. You may be surrounded by people who seem put together or less chaotic than you, but let me remind you that every Christian entered a relationship with Christ from a place of great need. No one is above this.

If you’re not a Christian and you feel messy, that exact feeling is why Jesus came to this earth. To give you a way out of that chaos and into freedom. It’s amazing! All you have to do is seek him.

To end this, I’d like for us all to just meditate on the wise words of Miley Cyrus 1.0… “Nobody’s perfect.”

Ok just kidding.

But the point is, we’re all on level playing ground here. Take that in and let it calm you, friend. I’ll let it calm me, too. I don’t know what the even heck I am doing half the time, and maybe you don’t either. But here’s what I do know: you and I? We’re loved. We’re imperfect, and we’re loved. And because of that, in the [wiser] words of Bob Goff, we can go forth and love everybody without agenda.