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The Messy Manger

When I was in college I instituted Friday Clean Day in an effort to keep our home clean. But in outward rebellion to their dictator/Monica roommate, most of the other girls “had a lot to do on Friday afternoons.” It just seemed logical to me that we tidy up on Fridays and that we share the responsibility. So many a week, I cranked my music and donned my broom…alone.

I am often mortified by my young adult self. Unbridled, opinionated, bossy, LOUD, naive, selfish, and oblivious. (Actually quite a bit like modern me). Basically….messy. The thing is, the weirdest thing, is that despite all of the above. DESPITE. My roommates during those years often (MORE THAN OFTEN) became my very best friends. Not just very best friends at the time, but now forever friends. As our quivers grow, intentionally and some unintentionally (you know who you are, wink wink), we keep up, we laugh about the memories, we text about politics, (UGH) and call to visit when we happen to be in the same cities.

Our college roommate came to town and we wanted to watch Anne of Green Gables and we ate pastries and talked ALL day and went to bed at a decent hour (so mostly like the good ole days).

A few months ago when I thought a bat flew out at me in my garage (thank you baby Jesus it was a giant moth), I texted college roommates before I even woke up my husband. Every summer when I cut my first watermelon, I text another roommate and we laugh and sometimes say, “too soon…” and then inevitably bring up Mark sightings and Hills Bro coffee.

And just last week, I met another one at Chick Fil A with. ALL. of. our. kids, and we giggled about when it was just us over Subway Cokes (back when Subway was healthy).

And no matter what, we’d all have each others’ backs like sisters-even over the years because we did life together: losing grandmas and grandpas, watching moms die, losing loves, waiting for loves, laughing, crying, confronting, sometimes yelling…messy.

So as Christmas approaches, the detail that I cling to the most every year, is that our Savior came to us first in a messy manger. No immediate fan fare, no room in the Inn, certainly nothing sterile. He was born into the mess of manure, and animals, and a young mother-pregnant out-of-wedlock. But yet…

We are still over here trying for perfection. And cleaning up our messes, and being shiny and sparkly and saying, “look at me, look how perfect I am, follow me on Instagram.”

But when the world came to a screeching halt that night in Bethlehem, it was because the long-awaited Messiah was born into a messy manger.

Can we stop to consider that all the things:

a very pregnant teenager,

a surprise trip to Bethlehem…likely on a donkey,

no room to stay,


…all the things worked together to send us a message in 2016…

Sometimes, let’s keep the mess. Just keep it. We don’t always have to tidy ourselves. My dearest friends know my mess. They know my junk and my selfishness. There was no way to hide it from them, and there’s no way to shield it from my husband or kids now. It’s here.

But you know what…so are they. They are still here. And I am still here, too.

Because real love is going to see the mess. And real love stays through it and is ok with it. Real love fights through the mess to get to the good.

Our holiest and most perfect example came to us in a mess. Jesus meets us in our mess. When will we remember? In fact, true love, it thrives and grows IN THE MESS, in the authenticity of it all.  In the struggle. It is the ultimate story line. And it’s been the ultimate storyline since the beginning of time.

This is what I love about Jesus, he meets us right where we are, he enters in and says, “hey I came from a line of gritty people, too (some of them straight up questionable), into a dirty manger, to a teenager, and I came to redeem it all. I see you and I made you and I love you AND your big mess that you are trying to hide.”

Your real people and your Savior love you through the mess of your life and they stay and you stay. And the mess is made beautiful.

 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a signto you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Luke 2:10-12

4 thoughts on “The Messy Manger

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