Cluttered

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- Bailey Nuss

I am not a tidy person by nature. 

I was raised by a neatnik mother who expected you to leave a room the way you found it: spotless. As a kid this drove me crazy–I was a tornado of magazines and craft supplies, books and homework sheets. My own home is what some may quaintly call "cozy"–small, full of treasures. There are stacks of books, baskets of yarn, toys out the wazoo… 

Recently I noticed that no matter how often I cleaned, the piles seemed to be multiplying. It became infuriating lifting up stacks of random papers or misplaced items in order to clean a counter, vacuum a floor, find a favorite Thomas train. The answer was so obvious it was almost painful–it was up to me. There is nothing more frightening then the realization that you are really truly an adult. These piles would only find their place if I chose to take the time to sort out, clean up. I was the one who had to make it happen. 

My spiritual life had grown similarly dusty…

Four years ago my now husband Jeremy and I had rededicated our lives to God, completely transforming our relationship and my view of the world. We would go to church with his mother, who was the most spirit-filled person I had ever met. She had a heart like Jesus'. 

After we were married, the same week we found out we were expecting, she announced that her cancer had come back. She had decided to treat it naturally, and knew that Jesus would heal her. Over the next seven months, as I prayed and cried and yelled out to God, I hardened my heart. Two months before her grandson was born, my mother in-law passed. We had to plan a funeral, take over her business, pay off bills, sell her house, take in my 17 year-old brother-in-law, and prepare for a baby. 

Life swept over us, as it tends to do in these situations. Spending time in the Word was a rarity. Even praying came slowly and painfully, if at all. 

As I realized my responsibility for the clutter in my home, a similar realization hit me even harder: the relationship that I missed with God was also up to me. I was so mad at Him, so unforgiving, that I couldn't understand why we were so far apart. I had hardened my heart and decided not to trust Him with my hurt, my wishes. I had blinded myself to the real issue at hand.

That night I asked God to forgive me. It was a difficult conversation to have, and one that was nearly three years in the making. I had neglected my end of the relationship because I was upset that my will hadn't been done. I felt the weight leave me–the burden of years of anger and grief. 

The next day an unfamiliar song came on the radio on our way home from the store. Lost in thought, I didn’t pay much attention until the chorus caught me: 

"Even if a healing doesn't come, 

And life falls apart, 

And dreams are still undone, 

You are God, 

You are good, 

Forever faithful one". 

The phrase "even if a healing doesn't come" repeated over and over. I've had very few moments where I felt like God was directly talking to me, this was one of them. Even if she couldn't have been cured, God is still in control. He makes all things for good, even if I, in all my short sighted humanity can't see what that is. 

Sometimes it’s the small realizations, like a cluttered shelf, that have the most impact on our lives. Neglecting to deal with the messy stuff just left more work for me to do later. I still miss my mother-in-law, and my faith has forever been changed. Still, God is meeting me where I am, in the mess. 

 

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 Bailey Nuss lives with her husband and two little boys in northern Michigan. She has a Master's in Communication and a Bachelor's in English, both from Michigan State University. She is an avid collector of yarn, has an unhealthy relationship with Starbucks, and hopes to someday pen the great American novel.