We had two women graduate our recovery program last week.
One was simply bubbly, with a smile that would melt an iceberg. In another life, she might have been a teacher or a pediatrician.
Looking at her, you would never guess the hellish path drugs had taken her.
The other was older, but young for a grandmother. She wore a more serious look. You could only wonder what hardships had sculpted that stoic face.
But her eyes were different — deep, as if all the wisdom from her defeats were stored within them.
During the program, there was an opportunity for others to share something about their relationship with the graduates and encourage them to stay strong in the new life they had begun.
One resident of the house took her turn. She glowed as she spoke to the younger graduate, recounting the times that her smile and cheerfulness had lifted her from sadness.
The speaker turned to the other woman. She paused, exhaled and then said, “What can I say? You’ve been a mother, sister and friend. I came to the house a wreck and you just loved me through my mess.”
Those words still echo: “You just loved me through my mess.”
Life is messy. You can trace it back to the garden if you want, but to be human is to make a mess from time to time.
Of course, there are messes and then there are messes.
There are those lost jobs, wayward kids, overspending, and failed relationships messes.
And then there are the abused as a child, drugs by middle school, the street by 16 and arrested by 20 messes.
The Gospel is about the messiness of life. From birth in a pungent stable to an ugly execution on a cross, Jesus lived in the grit of life.
He loved his way through reeking fisherman, oozing lepers, bleeding women, adulterers, tax-collectors and a bunch of other sinners who had made a mess of things.
The unconditioned love of Jesus healed them, affirmed them, reminded them that they were lovable apart from their mess, that they had worth despite the knee-high muck and mire of their lives.
Jesus reminds us that God is not on the other side of the mess, waiting for us to come out clean. God is down in the mess with us, in the spilled paint and spoiled plans, wanting to love us through it.
One wise woman realized that this love depends on us