“Wait. When do you have to be out?”
My friend and I were sitting in my living room, and as she looked around, she was thinking she must have misheard me. My family had been living in our rental home for two years, and it was time to move on. We were scheduled to turn in the keys in just four days.
Not one thing had been packed. Not a book. Not a photo album. Not a single fork.
“You have help coming, right?”
I mumbled something about it all being fine and that we’d figure it out. We were moving just twenty minutes down the road and everything would be okay. I basically said everything but the one word I knew I needed to say—help.
Because we’ve been friends for almost twenty years, she knows me well. My protest went in one ear and out the other. Within the hour, she had lined up her husband and set aside Saturday to help us.
My friend spent countless hours over the next several days cleaning out bathroom drawers, pulling long-forgotten items from under beds, and battling giant dust bunnies behind the dryer.
She saw all the behind-the-scene messes that had been building for years. The mess I kept shoving farther and farther into the back of the closet. The mess I swept under the rug while trying to make the house quickly presentable for an unexpected guest. The mess in the catch-all junk drawer I’d avoided for months. No one saw it anyway, so why deal with it?
Having someone help us move was a much more intimate experience than I expected, and it brought up all kinds of emotions. I felt shame over the mess existing in the first place. I felt incredibly humbled that someone would be willing to jump into my mess with me. I felt so loved when our friends were still our friends even after sharing the burden of all our junk.
What a beautiful example of Christ’s love for us.
Our human nature means that generally, we are not good at asking for help. Most of us feel as though we need to have our houses clean before we invite anyone in. It’s uncomfortable for us to be vulnerable with others because we fear judgment.
And yet, Jesus.
He meets us where we are. He doesn’t expect our lives to be all cleaned up and perfect before we call on his name. As well-hidden as we think our messes might be, he still sees them—even that pile in the darkest corner of the basement. All the clutter and junk in our lives will never be more than his grace can cover.
Countless times over the years, my pride has been in my way and made things much more difficult or complicated than necessary. If I hadn’t humbled myself enough to accept my friend’s gracious help, I’d probably still be in that house, surrounded by half-packed boxes.
In much the same way, without the grace and mercy of Jesus covering all my messes, I’d be trapped and drowning in piles of shame, regret, anger, bitterness, and envy. It would be so easy to be swallowed up completely.
May God always grant us the humility to seek his face even in the middle of our mess. He will never fail to jump in and share our burdens.
Ashley Doyle Pooser is a wife and a mom of three. She recently moved to Atlanta, where she’s trying her best to be a responsible adult but feels like she’s mostly flying by the seat of her pants. She blogs at ashleydoylepooser.com.
Photograph © Jazmin Quaynor, used with permission