Bring Your Mess
You’re a hot mess. Bring it.
Because so am i.
In fact, if you don’t bring it, we probably won’t connect very well. How could we?
If either one of us is faking it, whatever transpires between us won’t be real or honest. Without honesty we can’t have connection, validation, and acceptance, which are core longings of our hearts.
And it is the unmet core longings of our hearts that drive our indulgences, whether we run to compulsive sexual behavior or something else.
So you have to bring your mess.
It’s time for us to stop playing the game. You know, the game of trying to impress each other with carefully crafted personas. The game of presenting ourselves as though we have our s#%^* together. The game that cultural Christianity conditions us to play; namely, cleaning the outside of the cup and neglecting the inside.
The gift my addiction gave me was this: once it was out in the open, everybody knew i was a broken man and pretending was pointless.
i was free. No more performing.
There is a strange liberation about hitting rock bottom. It doesn’t solve everything, not in the least, but it’s a huge relief from the burden of keeping up appearances.
Until you bring your mess, you can’t experience that freedom. If you minimize your mess, you can’t experience that freedom either.
You have to bring your mess, all of it, and hold nothing back. There is only one way that will happen: you have to know that your mess is welcome. You must know that you are among people and in a place where you can share the whole, unvarnished story of who you are.
Over and over again.
One of the greatest things you can ever say to someone is, “Your mess is welcome here.”
But don’t say it unless you mean it.
You can only mean it if you’re comfortable with the mess, and the only way to be comfortable with it is to embrace the mess within yourself.
In order to tell a person that their mess is welcome, someone must first have said it to you. And you must have reached the point where the brokenness of your life has convinced you that — in the words of Switchfoot — “the wound is where the light shines through/the wound is where the light finds you.”
i am honored and privileged to have men in my life who say to one another, “Bring your mess.” And we bring it.
It’s essential. The same lies and shame that got us into compulsive sexual behavior in the first place will keep us there if we don’t commit ourselves to a nakedness of the soul with others who know what it means to care for deep desires of the heart and extend grace and mercy.
Bringing your mess is counterintuitive and countercultural. That is especially true when we are talking about the culture of the church today. The very people who have access to the riches of grace and mercy; the very people who have resources for soul care; the very people who are defined by their need of forgiveness, so often want nothing to do with your mess.
Your mess is unnerving. Your mess embarrasses others because you are letting the inside of the cup spill over to where everybody can see it. Your mess reveals that even though things look great on the outside, that’s not the real story.
Your mess exposes modern day Pharisaism. i lived as a modern day Pharisee for a long time.
i was dedicated to protecting my brand. i was committed to controlling the narrative of my life.
i think during that time i knew i wasn’t free, but the pain of not being free was far better than dealing with the utter humiliation that would come with the exposure of all my brokenness.
But because God is committed to setting my heart free, He forced the mess out of me. i had to bring it and deal with it. He was committed to my health and wholeness while i was more concerned with self-protection.
He is still committed to those things even now when i find myself sliding back —or at times running back — to playing it safe. He repeatedly insists that i bring Him my mess.
The light continues to find me, and i become more free.
So…bring your mess, it’s welcome here.
4 Responses to “Bring Your Mess”
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thanks, Stephen. i hope you are well.
This is great. I’m glad to have stumbled across your blog. When you said of the church: “The very people who have access to the riches of grace and mercy; the very people who have resources for soul care; the very people who are defined by their need of forgiveness, so often want nothing to do with your mess,” it deeply saddens my wife and I, but we agree. We wrote “Dear Church: A Letter from Porn” to emphasize how much better a body of believers could be if we could, “welcome the mess.” Thanks for your transparency. Here’s the link to “the letter” if you want to check it out and let us know what you think. http://www.anewgrip.com/2016/10/17/dear-church-a-letter-from-porn/
Mike, thanks for reading. i will read your letter; it sounds very interesting. transparency and risk are essential. i look forward to checking out your site.