Unfortunately, I can be a perfectionist of presentation when it comes to my faith.
When life presents difficult moments, moments when I doubt God’s provision, I cling to this concept of tidy faith. When exhaustion, discouragement, and loneliness settle in for a siege on my soul, I cling to truth of Scripture as my life-line. I busy myself with life-giving tasks that remind me I am not defeated. I pray, hard. This is absolutely the appropriate response in difficult times… save for one missing piece: acknowledging the distress.
Recovering perfectionists like myself would never say out loud that we have it all together, but we try to present such confidence in our faith.
Tidy Faith skips the relational step of crying out to God: this hurts! It jumps straight to the part where we preach truth to ourselves (which, of course, is crucial). However, we should not pursue the strength to move on without acknowledging the need for an intimate outpouring of our hearts to God. (Psalm 62:8)
Messy Faith provides this avenue for intimacy with God. He is inviting us to just be real with Him for a change.
Tidy Faith is a breeding ground for false humility. False humility is, in fact, pride. Often, I think so lowly of my struggles that I assume God does not care about these little battles. Because I am still thinking of myself, albeit negatively, my pride is still on full display. I rewrite first Peter 5:7 to say “cast all your cares on yourself, Becky, because they are too insignificant for God to be concerned.”
Messy Faith gets me thinking about God’s greatness, His kindness… His closeness to invite me, with all my own small problems, into His embrace. With eyes on Him, I can experience the true humility required to let go of presentable faith. Engaging in messy faith gives me permission to be real and honest with my emotions and discouragement. God says that He cares(!), so we should be humble, messy enough to cast all our cares on Him!
Tidy Faith upholds a sense of respect and honor towards God. It drives us to worship Him instead of complaining about our distress. While this perspective is necessary and admirable, I believe God wants more than respect and honor. Many of the Psalms exemplify the reality of messy faith. To cry out in anguish, question the Almighty, and lay all burdens of woe at His feet, and still proclaim His faithful lovingkindness. God desires intimate relationship in the untidy moments of despair.
Messy Faith gives us that intimacy.
I should note that we cannot remove faith from the equation. It is tempting to simply allow ourselves to be messy, but we must not let our emotions run rampant, trampling down truth so it can’t heal our hearts. Trust is a choice that should not be confused with emotion.
Can we let go of Tidy Faith.
Can we embrace a messy faith which acknowledges pain, uncertainty, and discouragement?
Could we welcome a wild-haired faith, which brings all the real feelings of a fractured heart to the feet of our Savior?
Dare we champion a disorderly faith which, before moving on to strength-getting and onward-marching, relishes those uncomfortable moments where Jesus meets us, right where we are?
Campfire Check In:
How do you let go of Tidy Faith?
Join me in #40fasts with author Alicia Britt Chole’s book 40 Days of Decrease. Day 5 challenges readers to fast from Tidy Faith, the inspiration for this post.