Faith, Real Talk

Christ Shines Best in the Mess

Have a seat while I tell you about my friend! Firstly, I’m not going to tell you her name because she is not a fan of being in the spotlight. 

Actually, to be completely honest, I’m not sure if she is as anti-spotlight as I think she is. I’ve learned recently I tend to draw people into cartoon versions of themselves. Do you know what I mean? I paint them with only one color. They are either black or white. Good or bad. Quiet or loud. Smart or dumb. Fun or boring. 

I see them as an exaggerated version of themselves. So, at this point I’m not sure if she actually HATES the spotlight or if that is my own projection of who she is. 

It’s something I’m working on right now: recognizing and loving the gray in all of us.

It’s a miracle we are friends, really, since I’m pretty sure the spotlight WANTS me in it. It longs for me. It is always inviting me into it. The spotlight LOVES me. (Totally normal thing to think. Nothing to worry about here!)

Anyway, BACK TO MY FRIEND (see, it’s a sickness). This person does not like being the center of attention (I don’t think?), but let me tell you a little bit about her anyway: 

She is loyal—I’m talking about a deep level of loyalty that puts most people’s “loyal” to shame. If you’re in, you’re in. I’m so dang happy I’m in. 

She is fun. And she’s confident enough to allow me to poke fun at her and how prepared she is in all situations. She lets me make fun of the huge diaper bag she totes around. It is packed full of bandaids and snacks and sunscreen and mosquito spray and Swiss Army knives and pot roasts. 

She let’s me borrow a wipe or a diaper or a snack whenever my waaaaay under-packed diaper bag let’s me down (yet again). She judges no part of me when I show up unprepared. She just laughs and jokes, “See, aren’t you glad I have this pair of emergency tweezers?” 

She is introverted. And she speaks softly. In fact, you have to lean in if you want to hear her. I often find myself physically turning my ear toward her when she speaks so that I can catch all of whatever it is she is saying. 

She decides to speak. Can you even imagine? She makes a CHOICE! There are people in the world for whom the act of speaking is a CHOICE. It’s never felt like a choice for me. Speaking just….happens to my mouth. 

My friend taught me to say “How do you feel about that?” when someone shares something they’re going through. She taught me those words through example because when she asked me “and how are you feeling about that?” I felt so profoundly heard and taken care of that I wanted others to feel the same way. 

She is creative and she is so cool. She likes cool things because she genuinely likes them, not because they are mainstream cool. She is confident in her taste (though she probably would say she does not feel very confident in many areas). 

I know if she suggests I eat something or drink something or go somewhere it is somewhere I should go or eat or see. She has an eye for quality and beauty. A natural eye for detail. 

I listen to all of her advice (except for her advice on what show I should binge watch cause her TV taste sucks—I mean, no one‘s perfect).

She has 4 backstories for every one story. All things connected for her. It’s important to her that we have all the pertinent information. If I close my eyes right now, I can imagine her pulling down on her baseball cap and pointing her finger up in the air as she says “ok, but, here’s the backstory on that” while she backs all the way up to the very beginning. 

This friend and her husband own a landscaping business. I’m constantly amazed at the level of hard work she and her husband put into their business. They sacrifice their time, working weekends during the busy season to get their business where it needs to be. 

My friend stays up late most nights working on payroll office stuff or designing things on her computer (full disclosure: I do not fully understand this graphic design thing no matter how many times she has tried to explain it to me). 

They have 4 young kids in addition to this business. She has a lot going on. I know we all have a lot going on, but my friend REALLY has a lot going on. And she’s able to juggle so well. I know she doesn’t see it like that or feel that, even, but she is a good juggler. 

My friend realized one day that the school her kids attend never has their weed eating or edging done. She realized this partly because it’s their family business, but I bet another big reason she realized this is because she has an eye for beauty. She has an artist’s eye and is drawn to that which is clean and beautiful.

She did some research and learned that, although someone else is responsible for the mowing of school grounds, no one edges or weed eats. So, my friend, with her gaggle of kids and responsibilities and general state of overwhelm decided to recruit her husband and now, when they can fit it into their busy schedule, they weed eat and edge the school’s lawn. 

They show up to their kid’s public school with their equipment and make the grounds look more beautiful. They took ownership of this little corner of the world and made it better. They saw a need and filled it. 

I am not sure exactly what it is about this act of service that moves my heart so much. Maybe it’s the fact that I would NEVER notice that the school even needed this done. Even if I did happen to notice I would never volunteer myself. Like, never ever. Never ever ever ever. I might complain to someone or make a joke about it, but move me to sacrifice? Move me into action? Big fat nerp. 

It does not make sense to me how this human’s brain or heart works. It doesn’t even really make sense on paper that we are friends. But I’m so glad we are because she is always fun to be around. She smiles and laughs and exudes an energy that is just magnetic to me and healing and safe. It’s a pleasure to be around her. 

I’m sharing this with you even at the risk of sounding ultra creepy (who loves their friends this much?) because there’s a lesson here for us. 

I’m not sure exactly what it is. I’m still learning, too, but I think it has something to do with using our gifts to make the world more beautiful. It has something to do with learning to say “and how are you feeling about that?” 

There’s something in this human that has demonstrated to me Christ’s love and gentleness many, many times. She has been an example to me. Even with how honest and open she is with her own weaknesses and failures, she has ministered to me. She has pushed me and guided me. 

It’s really a beautiful thing when someone shows you ALL of who they are and all of them brings you to Christ. There is no better way to remember Christ lives in all of us than to see him SO CLEARLY in the same person who texts you about why she’s mad at her husband or how the kids are driving her crazy. 

Seeing Christ so clearly in my imperfect friend reminds me that Christ must live in me, too. Even with my profound brokenness. I hope I have the opportunity one day to be Christ to someone who knows the real me. 

In the meantime, I’m going to push myself to look around and see where I can make the world more beautiful. Where is there a need I can fill? What corner of the world can I take ownership of? How can I add? How can I make those I love feel safe and heard and cared for?

We do not need to be perfect to move others to Christ. In fact, maybe our imperfection is a better testament to who He is anyway. 

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