Just a few hours ago, I was scrubbing dog poo off of the behind of my three-month-old golden doodle. There was poo everywhere: on her legs, on her tail, on her belly—not to mention all over her crate, her chew toys, and the blanket used to create a cozy space for her.
Her cuteness could not minimize the mess. This was not the first or the second time but the third time she has done this in three weeks.
Why am I telling you this story, you wonder?
I am struck by the image of my puppy looking up at me with her big brown eyes with the expression of, “Oh no, I’ve really done it again, haven’t I?”
I have to admit, as much as I wanted to keep my composure with her, I threw my hands up in the air and yelled, “Why don’t you get it yet? Why can’t you just be the dog I want you to be?!”
This was a moment of weakness—a moment that closely resembles how I often view my relationship with God. Except in that relationship, I am the dog.
Recently my life has been a continuous thread of moments in which I feel like I’ve created a mess or I am the mess. I look at God, with my tail between my legs, wondering how I could have messed up so badly. I feel like my inability to keep it together, to live into the promises I know are true, or to trust God with ordinary moments has caused me to live fragmented, anxious, and distressed.
I create messes when I am too overcommitted to schoolwork and neglect to see the importance of rest, play, and relationship. I create messes when my own pride gets in the way of opportunities to engage the people that I love. I create messes when I draw so far into myself that I don’t ask for help or communicate with the people that care for me. I create messes when I strive to prove my worth to the world and become obsessed with productivity.
Most of all, the biggest mess is my inability to be faithful to God through all of my messes. Somewhere along the line I forget that the time I spend in the presence of the Lord is so very crucial and incredibly cleansing. In my forgetfulness I attempt to clean up my own messes, but I am only left with more mess.
When it all comes crashing down, I think, “God must be so upset with me. Look at the chaos around me. God must be wondering when I will be done creating more messes.” Then I remember that this is not the reality of the God we belong to. God does not look at me in rage wondering what I’ve done.
God looks at me in grace and kindness; he is steadfast love in action.
There is a song that we sing in my Hebrew class, and the translation goes something like this: “Give thanks to the Lord for indeed he is good. For from everlasting is his steadfast love.” I believe that this is true. God’s love is steadfast—unwavering, unceasing, active, faithful.
Today I was reminded of these words. As I sang them, fully aware of my current messes, I looked up at God with my big, brown eyes wondering what he thought of me. I don’t believe he looked upon me as a frustrated, exhausted puppy parent. Instead, he gently asked, “Beloved, aren’t you done thinking that you are nothing but a mess? Don’t you know who I am? Don’t you know that I love you? Come to me. Be still and know that I am God.”
This is how God responds to our messes: not in anger, but in steadfast, faithful, unwavering love.