Finding God in the Mess

When you think about children — you get an idea of how resilient they are. Children just roll with the punches. It’s true.

Think back to when you were a child. I’m sure you have lots of wonderful memories filled with summers off from school, birthday get-togethers, riding bikes with your neighborhood friends. But I’m sure if you think back hard enough, you’ll also remember some not-so-great events that happened in your life.

For me, my father died when I was eight years old. Not only did this leave me with one parent, but it also left us quite poor. My British mother—who, since arriving in America, had been a housewife, raising four children — was determined that we wouldn’t become latch-key kids (i.e. smoking, drinking, etc.), so she opted to remain at home, versus working — which left us with no income, and living on social security, and whatever thrifty ingenuity we could scrape up.

My mother also didn’t drive (she never could figure out how to drive on the opposite side of the road!), so while other kids were being dropped off by their parents at the mall, or friends’ homes, my brother and I had to hoof it everywhere we went, or take public transit — which left us mostly at home.

But do you know what? We didn’t seem to care. We rolled with the punches.

We adapted.

Sometimes, though, as we grow older, our ability to adapt reduces. When change happens, or a crisis arises, we become fearful, worried and sometimes even resentful.

Often, we lose our ability to deal with uncertainty — our ability to trust that everything will be ok. And instead of rolling with the punches of uncertainty, we become crippled by it. Paralyzed.

And without this childlike trust, we often lose the opportunity that God has given us to transform us.

Into someone stronger. Someone better.

As children, when we face uncertainty, we just move forward to the next day. It’s our only option. Trust.

But as adults, it’s often much different. As children we generally rely on our parents for everything. But as adults who do we rely on? Ourselves? Do we really have all the answers? No, we do not.

So what do we do?

Well, we can turn toward the God who loves us and trust that He truly is good, and that He will use the circumstances in our lives to bring about the growth and goodness and peace that we need.

What we need, right now, is to know — right now — that God truly loves us. We need to see in our lives every day, even in the smallest things, to reveal to us His constant care.  If we are worrying too much or distracted by too many uncertainties, we will never see it. And more than anything else, right now — right now, we need to know that we are truly loved.

If I know that I am loved and have that certainty, then I can truly do anything. I can brave a storm, I can have a hope and trust, that to others may seem impossible in difficult circumstances. And this experience of being loved will give me the means to get through the most trying of times.

And instead of trying to Google the answer, or deny our way out of our difficulties, we have the opportunity and the grace to look for Him in the midst of it. Because He loves me. He loves you.

We don’t need to become resentful towards God for allowing us to be in our present difficulties, but to realize He’s the guide along the path to help us navigate them. He allows this because He loves us and will most definitely bring about a good that could not have been predicted.

Jesus may not eliminate the chaos we often find ourselves in, but He will certainly give it meaning. “In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

As children when things go awry, we look to our parents and others for support. Skinned knee…mom! Made fun of at school…dad!

We roll with the punches and the uncertainty.

And as adults we are given opportunities to allow God to use uncertainty to remodel our hearts. Opportunities to give our troubles over to God in prayer and trust. He loves us, and we know, that no matter what goes wrong we have this one truth: I am not alone.

How often is the future we imagined threatened by a change we could never have anticipated? And how often are the fears we come up with as a result of these changes actually realized? Sometimes perhaps they do, but most often, they’re not.

Jesus didn’t come to make our lives easier – He came to rescue us, and make our lives more purposeful by making us more like Him.

To have patience, understanding, love, and perhaps some childlike innocence. God doesn’t always take away our struggles, but He sure does help us to adapt to them. And grow from them. He loves us and never takes His eyes off us.

As a child, I didn’t wake up one day to suddenly find my mom driving, or a wad of cash dropped off at my front door. I still wore cheap sneakers and ate butter bread for dessert.

We continued on with the same challenges we were presented with the day before. But with God’s love and guidance, we got through them. And the funny thing is, I also experienced a lot of happiness.

Tough days and challenges, yes. But happiness, too.

So, as adults, as times become challenging (work, health, finances, or even a life-altering virus) we can lean on some of our childhood innocence, trust, and that long-ago ability to simply adapt and find a new way.

God will never promise to remove our struggles, but He does promise to be with us in the midst of them while we reach toward Him. And through this, He will always help us to find more meaning in our struggles and hardships. And if we allow Him to love us – to try to be more and more aware of Him in our lives, we will not feel so alone, so isolated, so forgotten. He is there with us – with us now.

That’s the real blessing. That’s love.

Give God the opportunity to remodel your heart. Let God love you — today.

Photo by Ronit Shaked on Unsplash

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Alan Scott is a writer and graphic designer residing in Virginia. A former Agnostic, he converted to the Catholic faith in 2004. In 2014 he started his blog, and is the author of The Quest for Virtue, both which focus on growing in holiness, by attempting to live a life more simple and virtuous, a life that is lived for God. When he’s not writing or designing, you’ll find him, hands dirty, in his garden. You can find him on Facebook, too.

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