{Repost} Messy Faith


There seems to be a recurring theme in many of my conversations of late. These conversations pop up when you I least expect them, and at seemingly odd times. The topics of discussion range from family life to broken hearts to school to abortion. But they all are circling back to one central theme (dare I say truth?).

Faith is messy.

We in the western world like things put into neat little compartments, wrapped up in pretty packages, with nice, clear labels. We like to have a category in which to put everything. A place for everything and everything in it’s place, right?

And when it comes to faith and matters of the soul, we seem to take those ideas and desires for a neat, tidy, pretty, labeled package to the extreme. We want to know what category you belong in. Then we want everyone to know that we are okay, we know what we’re doing, we have all the answers and don’t need any help. We know what to say and when to say it. If we venture into a church with any sort of regularity, we barely have to think about what we say, where we go, what we do. We are in auto pilot. We put on our best clothes, smile our pretty smile, and talk about how much we love Jesus. And that’s the way we like it. It’s simple. It’s clean. It’s easy.

But what I’m experiencing in my journey of faith is turning out to look much different than that. My faith is messy. My life, my relationships, my mind is messy. I don’t necessarily mean messy as in messed-up; wrong; dysfunctional. Though at times it is all those things, too. I mean it’s complicated; more gray than black and white; it takes energy, critical thinking, and blood, sweat and tears.

And it desperately needs community. The Bible says that faith without action is dead. But I’m also finding that faith without community is shallow. “Christianity” in the western world has become shallow, cold, exclusive rather than inclusive. It is sterile, impersonal, and lonely. Of course, I’m speaking in very general terms. And I use the term “Christianity” very loosely when it is in such a context.

If people claim to be a people of faith, there needs to be community present along with the actions that accompany that faith. There should be real community, where life is shared, warts and all. Where people are free to talk, discuss, question, wrestle and grapple with the messiness that comes when humans mingle with the Divine. In an atmosphere of true community, there is safety in walking through these questions, issues, and even doubts that are swirling within the spirit of each one of us. Real community is beautiful, supportive, freeing, and messy.

It’s not easy, or pretty, to work through your stuff, whatever that stuff is. But, oh what sweet intimacy and friendship and love that is cultivated when people we put their our guard down and truly share life with one another. Why do we put up the facade that we have it all together? Fear.

If they really knew the real me, they’d never want to hang out with me again.

If they only knew what I really wanted to ask about God, they’d think I’m an idiot.

There’s no way I’d deserve to be loved by God if He, or they, knew my past.

Sadly, most, if not all, of those statements have been proven to be true (other than that God not loving you part) in countless “bodies of faith” over time. Most likely, each of us has personally experienced it.

But the beauty of real community – community based upon and within the unconditional love of a Man who walked this earth and shared His life with all sorts of people – is that in such community, there is freedom to question, to ask, to wrestle, to struggle, and to decide. And the true beauty? No matter the decision, there is always love. Lord, let me be a part of a community like that! And make me the kind of person who fosters community like that.

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Posted on February 24, 2012, in Faith, Life Lessons and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. My fav post by you!! Thanks!

  2. Awesome, “raw” post–I can totally relate! Going to “tweet” this! :)

  3. Faith has to be constantly changing and evolving…I don’t really believe that it’s easy for people all the time. I just don’t think it can be. Maybe that’s my faith flaw?

    But, I think we always have to be learning, searching, seeking and growing in our faith.

  4. You made some great points in this post. Clicked over from Momma Made it Look Easy and happy I did.

  5. The community we have in our churches (yes, plural) is phenomenal. Friends have left town and found that they can’t get it elsewhere, at least not yet. It is impossible to pinpoint what makes our community different, but something is there. For our family, our community is what has made our lives work, and work well. We are so, so blessed.

  6. I understand Messy all to well:-) Enjoyed your post. Found you on Wild Wkd Hop.

  7. I’ve really struggled with community since becoming a mom… it’s been isolating. However, lately there’s been two friends who I’ve really connected with. Sometimes I feel guilty going to a house/outing and just hanging out all day with these ladies and their kids, but it’s been so refreshing being honest about our struggles, faith walks, home challenges, and more. They’ve been really supportive and my prayer has deepened as I keep these gals in mind!

    Lindsey @ GrowingKidsMinistry.com

    • Oh, I cop an so relate!! Those tomes are so very important, and I’m constantly reminding myself that when I’m taking care of myself, I AM taking care of my family. Of course, as in all things, there has to be a balance, but community and other moms are so vital to our health and well being! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing!

  8. So true…life is messy, so therefore our faith is as well. I love this post and your writing. You are gifted at putting words to heart felt things. You are very talented writer. My heart echos your prayer.

  9. You sure understand what a lot of us go through. Human have to much baggage like worries and fears that make it hard to simply let go. Visiting from the weekend bloghop!

    The Twerp and I

  10. What a beautiful post; you are an amazing writer. Fear does keep us from so many blessings. I remember sitting in my first Bible study, thousands of questions squirming on my tongue, but I kept silent for fear I would look stupid. It wasn’t until someone shared their mistakes, their pain, their mess, that I began to open up.

  11. Yep…the greatest command after loving Jesus is to love others and loving others is always messy because it involves serving them! Great post! Love your writing.

  12. I’ve thought about community a LOT in the past few years, and particularly the last couple of months as we left a church with zero community and joined a church chock full of Acts-like community. It makes SUCH a difference in ones spiritual health.

    • I know what you mean. Since we left the States, we’ve been our own church. Thankfully we have some other like-minded people here that we can share life with. It’s not always pretty, but its so much more authentic than what we usually experienced in “church.”

  13. I couldn’t agree more! Oh, and I loved your words – “wrestle and grapple with the messiness that comes when humans mingle with the Divine.” I think I just might keep that one and quote you on it someday! :)

  14. This so perfectly sums up probably the biggest lesson of 2011 for me: I can’t do it all myself. Being an introvert doesn’t excuse me from spiritual community. I can share my true self with others and the world won’t explode. The Lord has blessed me with an amazing small group who exemplify this in every way. So thankful, and thank you for expressing it!

    • Thank you for sharing!! As an extrovert I can say we appreciate the effort it takes you to open up, and it is definitely worth it! May God bless you with true and sweet Christian community this coming year!

  15. I just read a mommy blog that left me feeling judged and like I definitely fall short of her standard of glory…and then I found this post and my heart breathed a sigh of relief. I find myself living in messy faith and while I wish I fit into the “looks perfect” category, I find grace in the mess…and it’s glorious! Blessings to you…my sister in the messy journey.

    • I’m so sorry you felt belittled by that other site. I know that feeling all too well! I definitely prefer the predictability of the illusion of perfection, but the freedom of true community is worth the stretch beyond my comfort zone. Thank you for stopping by!

  16. Sarah Koci Scheilz

    I couldn’t agree more! I have found that when I let people in to see my messiness, it’s usually appreciated and then reciprocated. Thanks for this powerful reminder!

  17. I loved this post… I’ve come to realize this slowly over the last few years and I’m trying to be more transparent on my blog. In fact, my unofficial tagline is “beauty in the mess” because so much of my life is. just. so. messy.

    GREAT POST!

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