I don’t know how you picture a blogger writing blogs. Until I started writing, I lived under the impression that all posts were written at large wooden tables in hip coffee shops, with a pristine latte in hand and classic jazz playing softly through the speakers. I hate to burst your bubble, but that is not the atmosphere in which this blog is being composed.

Where I’m writing is definitely not Instagram worthy. My room is in utter disarray. My desk is crowded with half read textbooks and cold unfinished cups of tea. It’s late at night. I’m behind deadline. But far from ideal is where this blog is coming from.

The setting is somehow fitting. I have been feeling the messiness of life acutely in the past week. Our human experience is such a mixed bag. We can feel such joy, and it can be dashed with bitter pain. We can be so lonely at times, but can also welcome each other into warm communities. We can feel crushed by stress or trapped by circumstance, but also have those moments of pure freedom straight out of a Bruce Springsteen song where we jump in the car, turn on the radio and just go.

Looking at the calendar (I must admit, it was still on October, and I just flipped it to November), tomorrow is Remembrance Day. If any day could highlight our inconsistencies this would be it. We have used our time, energy, and resources to hurt one another with such brutality; but at the same time we can exhibit such a deep desire for peace.

We humans are inconsistent messy creatures.

It’s easy to see where God is amid the peace, and the joy; these are his good gifts. These are foretastes of heaven, when all things will be redeemed and made new. But where is God in the pain and in our chaotic inconsistencies?

So often I get ahead of myself. I’m so anxiously anticipating God’s promised renewal of all things that instead of asking God where He is in the midst of our brokenness, I ask Him how He is making our brokenness better.

By his very presence with us, in our mess, His redeeming work begins.

I’m quick to forget that Jesus blesses the poor in spirit, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the reviled and persecuted, the meek, and the mourners. In the beatitudes, Jesus makes beautiful promises to broken people, giving hope and promising future fullness, healing, and renewal. Even though the brokenness is not immediately mended, Jesus blesses us. Where we are. In our mess.

He blesses us with His presence. This week I’ve been asking Jesus how are you making the brokenness beautiful? He has been answering me I’m present in this mess. He doesn’t make it all go away instantaneously, but he does sit with us in our chaos and our pain. And by his very presence with us, in our mess, His redeeming work begins. And in that, there is something strangely beautiful.

This is what makes Christianity unique. Our God is so willing to enter into our brokenness. He isn’t ignorant of it. It doesn’t scare Him. He knows our pain because He entered into it. Jesus can sit next to us and say I’m here with you in this mess. I know your pain. In the midst of our brokenness, though His work on the cross, Jesus’ comforting embrace can make us whole again.

Sometimes when we sit in our brokenness, and allow ourselves time to be messy, greater work than we could imagine or hope for is begun. From places of brokenness Jesus undoubtedly brings healing and wholeness, but not always how or when we expect.

Recognizing Jesus’ presence in our mess is just the first step in the process of renewal. We may not be led down the paths we expect. It may get messier, but He is with us every step of the way. In every step of our journey from brokenness to God’s promised renewal of all things, He is present with us.

Photo: At University; Take Two by feministjulie/CC BY

St. Peter's Fireside