I hadn’t considered the state of my home when I received a text from my friend Julie asking if she could swing by with lunch and the promise of good conversation. In fact, I hadn’t even noticed the state of my home when she made the offer.
Being overwhelmed with grief, I gladly accepted. Relief temporarily washed over me knowing I wouldn’t have to expend energy I didn’t have on scraping together a mid-day meal for myself and my young daughter.
When Julie arrived with bulging paper sacks containing the makings of a feast from my favorite burger joint, we quickly emptied the contents onto my glass-top kitchen table and began indulging our tastebuds.
It wasn’t until I had eaten half of my burger that I realized the layer of grime covering the table’s glass made it look more like a murky, dirt-smeared window than a table fit for dining.
I almost apologized for my domestic failure (while regretting the decision to purchase a clear glass table.) But before I could, tears sprung from my eyes. Again. Lament had become the predominant theme in my life and tears had become a constant interruption.
For months, my vision had looked something like that grubby glass tabletop but clouded by grief instead of grime. I’d experienced my second pregnancy loss, a stillbirth. I couldn’t see anything outside of the heartache that enveloped me, including the dingy state of my home. Life had become a matter of simply surviving. While I desperately wanted to be living a normal life doing normal things like wiping down the kitchen table and prioritizing other household tasks, I just wasn’t.
I had experienced something outside of normal. Mothers were supposed to raise their babies, not bury them. Life was beyond my control and my only priorities were to grieve and survive a season of deep, messy, cumbersome sorrow.
After that round of tears dried up, Julie and I continued eating from our to-go containers. She didn’t seem to notice the buildup of filth on my kitchen table, and if she did, she mercifully didn’t seem to care.
She was unfazed by the mess of my home and of my heart. She sat with me in the grime and the grief. She normalized my tears and listened to my lament. She assured me that there is no timeline for grief and did not pressure me to move on.
We sat together at a dirty table while I cried and chokingly verbalized my heartache. She did nothing but listen and encourage.
I was of course grateful for the meal, but more than that I was grateful for someone who wasn’t afraid to sit with me in the mess, in the discomfort of a life that was anything but shiny.
Far more precious than the food that nourished my body was a friend who nourished my heart and an encounter that nourished my soul. Julie sat with me at my messy table in my messy house and gently bore witness to my messy grief. She did not offer platitudes. She was not alarmed by my visibly untidy life.
When I consider this, I’m reminded that Jesus is a friend who remains unfazed by the messiness of our lives. In fact, He willingly approaches our messes — His very presence providing relief. He dined with the despised, touched the sick, wept with grievers, and washed feet.
Jesus is not turned off by those whom society would rather ignore, nor does He turns away from illness, grief, or even dirty feet!
And when I remember that Jesus was more concerned with Martha’s focus on Him than on the tasks begging to be done, I can’t help but think that like Julie, He isn’t fazed by less-than-perfect hospitality either.
Looking back on that meal I shared with my friend, I’m encouraged in knowing that we can show the love of Jesus simply by sitting with others in whatever messy circumstances they are enduring.
Because of Jesus’ example, we can be a friend who doesn’t expect perfection but instead approaches messy lives with a tender heart and listening ears, intent on making another’s best interests a priority. We can choose to serve and to love amid stains and scars, blemishes and broken hearts, dirt and distress.
We can be a friend who is unfazed by the mess, a friend whose gentle presence offers needed relief.
Who might need you to be this kind of friend today?Leave a Comment
Oh Jenny, I am truly sorry for your losses! But oh-so-thankful for the gift of Julie, and for the gift of friendship and encouragement!
Thank you so much for sharing this today. May we be the friends who offer the gift of non-judgmental friendship and encouragement to others, whatever that might look like. May our eyes and hearts be open to see what truly matters.
Big Hugs and Blessings to you!
Amen, Bomi. “May our eyes and hearts be open to see what truly matters.” Yes!
Ruth Mills says
Thank you for this oh so practical example of being Jesus’ hands & feet to each other. Life is a bit extra busy these days but I still want to be feeding our adopted college kids yet I don’t have time to clean thoroughly. A dear friend reminds me people don’t remember the dust on the TV screen they remember how warmly they were welcomed in. So we write I love u in the dust & invite them over anyway! May we all have a Julie in our life & be a Julie to others as well!
Oh, Ruth, I love that so much. “I love you” in the dust. What a beautiful way to love in the reality of a messy life.
Oh Jenny, my heart breaks as I read this but am so touched that you feel safe enough to share this. It has taken years and years for me to understand what is important. Blessings to you.
I think understanding what is important is a lifelong practice—we are always learning! Much love to you, Madeline.
Michele Meacham says
Thank you … I truly needed this today!! God Bless you for this message!!
Bless you, Michele!
Beth Williams says
So sorry for you losses sweet sister. “Women are supposed to raise their children not bury them.” Oh how true. Thankful for friends who sit with us in the messes. Many times I will call/stop to see older friends. They often say sorry for the mess. My response is “I don’t care about the mess. I came to see you.” It is important for me to check on these friends especially if they aren’t in church. They are widows & don’t have family in the area. It’s my way of showing the love & light of Jesus.
Life can be hard sometimes. People need friends who will come & encourage & sit with them. Similar to Job’s three friends. Asking God to show us who needs a “Julie” in their life.
Thank you, Beth, for sharing this. I’m with you—I truly do not care about the mess! Thank you for being that friend to those around you.