Address The Mess: Not So Perfect Picture

We can assume that it is our job to address someone else’s.

Most of the time that is not the case.

Cruise2017aI recently shared this picture on Facebook, and I love it. It captures the sass and the fun that my wife and I frequently have with each other. One of the comments by someone who knows us reasonably well was that it captures our personalities.

What it doesn’t show is the regular, the mundane, the hurt, and the pain that life can hold and sometimes deal out. It doesn’t show the low moments, the struggle moments, or the confusing moments that accompany every relationship and every life. It doesn’t show the hours of conversation or the short nights that it sometimes takes to work through the mess.

We can naively carry on thinking that others have a perfect life and “If I could only have it like them then things would be great.”

Everyone has snapshots that if captured and presented would represent a moment of bliss or euphoria. I am not so concerned about those moments. Instead, I want to address in this series the other 99.99%.

I can think that life is pretty good. I can take care of ‘my side’ and believe that everything is okay. My problem is that I often start with me and work out from there. However, that may not always be the best measurement, and much of the time it can be skewed.

Even though I can look good in a moment to you, or I can look good in my thinking to myself, I also have the potential to affect others, and that will not always have me in a great light. I struggle like you with being human, with getting it right.

I can even go to the scriptural extent that I’m busy trying to take out a sliver from your eye while I am oblivious to the log in my own.

I need to Address The Mess in my own life. That is where I start. Once I come to terms with how short I have fallen, how much I need, how far I have missed the mark of perfection, then maybe, just maybe I can begin to help someone else.

God provides tons of help and encouragement, but it is only available when I can be honest with myself and real with him.

Joseph Series: Family Games

Joseph knew his family’s dysfunction, his brother’s propensity to lie and deceive. He knew that they only lived for their agenda. He didn’t know that it had changed.

Families play games.

My wife and I do, but we do it on purpose, with our kids now adults, and with delightful intent. We’ve done it their whole lives. For the most part, they loved it! How do I know? I told them so. Ha.

It’s the family games that everyone denies that has me greatly concerned. In fact, they aren’t games at all; they could more accurately be called deceptions, family code, and elephants in the room.

You know what I’m talking about. It’s the demand that you fit into your role when you are with the family, the way that you act when your buttons get pushed; and no one can push your buttons like your parents and siblings. It’s the stuff no one will talk about, but everyone knows it’s there. And, you and your family do it every time!

Enter Joseph. Joseph was thirteen plus years removed from the family dysfunction, game, code, and he had to know if the code was still in play. He went to quite some length to make sure things had changed. Joseph tested his brother’s in their most vulnerable spot. He for lack of a better term pushed their buttons. Any future with them, had they not changed, would not have been pretty.

Joseph was satisfied to the depth of his emotions that change had come. What a delightful moment.

Thirteen years had taken its toll on the brothers, on Jacob, their father, as well as on Joseph. The brothers had come to realize that their shameful behavior had cost their family deeply.

They came forward and owned their stuff.

This action gives us an awesome picture of repentance. It was almost that the brothers were getting in line to say, “If there is any blame here it is to fall on me, I’m the one.”

Whether they grew into this or got forced into this through circumstances, they owned it.

In absolute humility they prepared for their fate, they couldn’t expect anything else.

This moment overwhelmed Joseph. I don’t think he could have hoped for such a spectacular outcome. Spectacular happens when such depth and hurt get healed.

So in this story, we see a beautiful picture of repentance and forgiveness. One is not complete without the other.

So this begs the questions?

What do you have to own?

What do you have to forgive?

Painfully Beautiful

We have been renovating our house a little at a time as we have had the funds and time. We have started with the priority jobs and are working through our list as we can.

I have recently begun to complete the floor replacement. You see it is a project that I started three years ago and had been doing one room at a time. I have been able to do two rooms in the last couple of years and now have acquired the material to complete this flooring phase, so yes, I’ve started again.

The problem with flooring is it’s kind of foundational in that if you plan to move walls, add a fireplace or change a room size, you have to solidify those plans before you put the floor down, or you will have to redo the floor again.

Our plans have been morphing and changing as we have been in the process. These ideas though promisingly wonderful can also grow the costs and the work.

Renovations are very much like and are a part of Transformations. They begin one board at a time, one thought at a time, and one change at a time. You have to get rid of the old before replacing it with the new.

Sometimes when you uncover the old, you realize that it is itself a covering for something yet older. For your renovation, your transformation to be thorough, you need to get down to the frame; the plywood; the structure. In some cases, the structure may even need to be replaced or altered. Once you are down to the structure, the foundation of your job, you can begin the restoration process, bringing it back to its original, renewed form.

Transformation happens when you alter the original structure and do something new. That’s what happens when we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. He transforms us to make us what he has purposed for us to be. Often his work is to the core and can look confusing while you are in the middle of it. That is what it looks like when you renovate and restore. The mess often feels bigger than life and begs the question of “Is it worth it?”

It is worth all of it and it is based on the prayer that Paul offered to God, for the Philippian believers, “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, NIV)

This life altering process is so painfully beautiful.

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