This past summer I tended to what had been a longtime neglected part of my yard, a “garden” on the side of our house. My enthusiasm quickly turned to dread when I realized the mess it had become. Weeds so high they went up to my waist. A rose bush that had grown out of control.
I needed something productive to do while I was off work for a few weeks, so it seemed the perfect summertime project. It was painstaking work…and I mean literal pain. Being a novice gardener, it never crossed my mind to use gloves as I pulled weeds. My vigorous pulling and tugging must have numbed my hands. It wasn’t until I saw blood running down that I realized there were cuts all over both hands. Blood mixed with dirt. Messy.
With time, patience, dedication (and yes, the purchase of gardening gloves), the mess became something beautiful. I didn’t think to take a before picture, but at least my family can appreciate the transformation.
That messy garden was a reminder of my own mess…those parts of me that my inner circle sees and those parts that only God can see. I saw potential despite the weeds. I envisioned something beautiful. God is the same way with us. He sees beyond the mess to the beauty deep within.
I spent years agonizing over the messy me. I didn’t like who I was, and I was convinced God was running out of patience with me. All the focus on what was “wrong” with me stood in the way of not only recognizing but enjoying the process of change. While I certainly enjoyed the transformation of my garden, I hadn’t done the same with the transformation of my heart and mind.
There’s a line in one of my favorite movies, “Trains, Planes and Automobiles,” in which John Candy’s character says, “I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me because I’m the real article. What you see is what you get.”
I’ve learned to adopt the same kind of mindset about myself. It’s not that I have a cavalier attitude about my messy parts. God knows there’s still a whole lot of work to be done in me! But I don’t dwell on them as much. I have hope because there’s a history of transformation in my life. God has done and continues to do a work in me.
Oftentimes when I seek God’s forgiveness, I give thanks according to Philippians 1:6: being confident of this, that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
I’m so grateful that He continues to pull the weeds in my life. I’m so thankful for the mixture of dirt (my sins) and blood (His poured out for me) that is working toward something quite lovely. A day is coming when all that is messy will truly become beautiful.