Finding Grace in the Mess

It was late and the house was the same mess we left it in. Funny how that works. I didn’t feel like being a drill sergeant in order to get everyone to pick up their own mess and I don’t like to go to bed with the house in disarray, so I decided to tidy it up myself.

I told myself on the drive home that I would be kind. I’m tired of letting mess affect my mood. I decided that every time I chose to pick something up, I would repeat the words in my head, “Be nice!”

Being nice is MORE important than having a clean house.

And it worked. I felt good inside.

Until…

the next day.

It was one of those “tattle tale” moments that actually perks your ears and makes you run down the stairs to see the destruction.

Yellow nail polish splattered all over my entire hot, summer-sweat -dripping hand-stained-in-the-hot-garage, espresso kitchen cabinets.

Nail polish she had been told time and again to leave alone!

And I was mad.

And I was NOT nice.

And it would NOT come off.

All I could think about were those grueling summer days where my garage was filled with inexhaustible cabinet doors to stain. All I could think about was how hard I worked.

My husband remained calm and asked her, “What happened?”

Her soft whispers begrudgingly confessed.

“I climbed on the counter to get the yellow nail polish and it fell and broke and spilled all over.”

How come you didn’t tell us?

Well, I tried to wipe it off and clean it up but it was getting dry and it didn’t work.”

And then my thoughts took me inside the mind of my 5-year-old the moment the nail polish broke and splattered all over. I pictured her getting the paper towel wet and trying to wipe off dry nail polish to no avail. I felt the panic of a 5-year-old who knew her mom would get mad.

I felt her guilt that decided not to tell, hoping that somehow bright yellow nail polish wouldn’t be noticed. I saw her hiding the evidence of broken pieces from the nail polish jar.

I knew that even though she is only 5 and I am a 44-year-old grown adult, I feel just like her when I sin.

Isn’t that how we all feel when we sin?

We see the messy evidence and sometimes we try to cover it up on our own.

We try to hide our sin and pretend it’s not there so that no one will see it.

We try to wipe it up but no matter how hard we try… it’s still there.

Covering it up only makes it worse. We should have just confessed in the first place.

[Tweet “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Psalm 32:1”]

What a beautiful reminder that Christ’s blood washes the stain of my sin away. I no longer have to try so hard to scrub it out. I accept his atonement.

That’s when I understand the demonstration of God’s love for us in Romans 5:8 that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I no longer have to hide. I don’t have to worry about being perfect. Or strive to appear godly on the outside when on the inside I am rotting. I can shout out that I am a sinner! I am stained. I’m sorry Lord. I need help!

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Psalm 32:3

When we hold sin inside it saps our strength like the heat of summer. 

I kept working in the heat of the summer on that hot July. I was determined to finish the job.

I realize that the same amount of effort I put into painting my kitchen, I need to put into my reactions. Because God is forgiving and patient with me. I need to work just as hard to be forgiving and patient with my family. And that may involve some spiritual sweat, training and effort on my part.

This effort comes with the freedom to accept the life-giving grace of Jesus that releases guilt when I fail. When I’m not nice.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord. And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:5

When I understand the grace that I am given, I can, in turn, extend it to others. Even to my 5-year old’s latest mischievous, accidental art project.

“Maybe we should just splatter all the cabinets with yellow paint to make them match,” my husband joked.

We laughed.

Yeah, maybe we should.

Has God ever reminded you of His love and grace through your children? I would love for you to leave a comment below.

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