An Invitation Into My Mess

nnfm-invitation-into-messI, Tara M. Bender, do hereby declare that I am a mess.

A redeemed mess, yes. But a mess nonetheless.

The cracks and crevices of my life are constantly overflowing with chaos that could have easily been avoided if I had just hit the snooze button one less time or returned the email as soon as I opened it instead of sending it to inbox purgatory where it may or may not ever see the light of day again.

Spiritually, life gets messy when I’m stretched and grown in difficult seasons and/or ALL THE TIME. Who am I kidding? (But I think if you’re not experiencing some kind of spiritual / emotional / existential messiness, you’re not a living, breathing human. You’re a robot. Hello, robot.) There’s a very real and humbling force that takes over when you admit daily that you’re broken and in need of grace.

But my mess is not just contained to my internal battles.

No, my friends. The struggle is real and visible and follows me around like an embarrassing Tazmanian Devil of disorganization all over the place for everyone to see. I can attribute endless amounts of stress to my physical messiness, laziness, procrastination, and general unawareness of how to do adult things in an adult world that are necessary for survival.

Even now, my room is a disaster. There’s a small area of carpet cleared for the door to open, but the rest of the floor is covered in piles of clothes and shoes and mail and empty water bottles and a thousand other things I’ve been stepping over for months. I guess I could clean it up, but that would take the fun out of choosing my outfit in the morning by digging into a pile and pulling out the first article of clothing without a visible stain in under 30 seconds because that’s all the time I’ve allotted myself since I hit snooze too many times. Remember?

Maybe I just like living on the edge. That’s a good excuse for paying your bills late, right? Or for ignoring multiple calls from the pharmacy, which causes them to pull your prescription, so when you finally go to pick it up, they have to fill it all over again? That’s right. I’m adventurous. I’m rebellious.

That’s why I don’t fill up my gas tank until I’m pretty sure I’m inches away from being stranded on the side of the road. And why I had to go all the way to Chicago last summer to get a passport one week before I was scheduled to leave the country. (Note: Thanks to my dad for going to the hospital in Northern Indiana where I was born to get a new copy of my birth certificate because — surprise! — I lost it. For the second time.)

Sometimes I look at my friends who have kids and marvel at how together they’ve got it. I know for a fact they would disagree, but I’m definitely right. They provide tiny people with their basic human needs. They function on little to no sleep. They make dinner and clean their houses and get places on time and are still totally amazing people, even though so much of their energy is sucked out of them by their offspring.

I can barely even take care of myself, friends. I can’t imagine having children to care for right now. You know, because of my adventurous, rebellious, living-on-the-edge ways. If I ever become a mom, Jesus take the wheel, because those kids are going to be the ones who go to school with their clothes on inside out and backwards on picture day.

Sometimes I think about the days when I was a totally Type-A. Until mid-high school, I maintained a neat and organized life. I knew where all my things were. I labeled my folders and completed tasks in a timely fashion. What happened to me? How did I become the girl who got pulled over and had NO IDEA my car insurance had expired six months earlier? I wish that story had a happier ending, but let’s just say the city of Asbury Park, NJ has my mugshot on file. This is real life, people.

I don’t know how I transitioned from Type-A to Type-every-other-letter-in-the-alphabet, but it probably wasn’t a very graceful process. I’d like to think that over the years, I’ve adopted a carefree nature, and my messiness doesn’t bother me. But that’s definitely not true. It’s like an itch I can’t scratch, always just below the surface, dividing my attention and causing me some degree of worry.

I hate it that my room looks like it exploded. I’m not a fan of being late everywhere, and I would certainly prefer to know whether or not my car insurance is up to date.

Maybe someday I’ll resolve to rise above this (gigantic) bit of mess in my life. In all honesty, it would require a level of discipline that I just don’t possess right now. But I have hope that there will come a day when I know exactly where my social security card is. (Note: I don’t know where my social security card is, which is actually a replacement copy because it’s also lost for the second time.)

I’ve found myself apologizing to company in the past for a sink overflowing with dirty dishes. And for the Christmas decorations that are still up in March. And for my stinky dog and nothing to eat in the house besides stale pretzels. But I don’t care about any of those things when I’m a guest in someone else’s house. I love them and their mess and love them even more because they let me into their mess. I love evidence of a home well lived-in and proof that someone besides me can be a walking tornado of chaos every once in a while. It’s a comforting, endearing, authentic invitation into their imperfection that I gladly accept.

So here’s my invitation: Come on in. Come on into my mess — my messy heart, my messy room. All of it. And once you’re inside, please help me find my social security card. I’ll probably need it when I lose my passport.

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    • says

      I kind of want to start an Instagram account called “My Messy House” or “What I Actually Look Like” or “Yes, I’m Eating Ice Cream Alone in Bed Again” where anyone can submit photos of their unglamourous lives, and we can all feel a little bit better about ourselves.

    • says

      I want to be just like my fabit aunt when I grow up! I think my potential kids will survive, but they might live a significant part of their lives under a pile of junk or lost.

  1. Melissa says

    I love you. I love this blog. You just made my discombobulated house and life not such a bad thing….well atleast for me – my kids may still be upset about not being able to find matching socks and other various articles of clothing and the dh will probably still be irritated that everything laying around and in piles is “a project I haven’t gotten to yet” – but I now feel so normal! You can use my social security card.

    • says

      Discombobulated! That’s the perfect description of life 90% of the time, isn’t it. Some may see a “project you haven’t gotten to yet” but I see “a pile of potential awesomeness.” Some may see mismatched socks, but I see a new avenue for self expression. Maybe it’s just all about perspective.

      Thanks for reading…and for the social security card!

  2. Bethany says

    Tara, if you keep writing awesome things like this you will become my new hero. :) Love how identifiable your writing is, and how much I can relate!

  3. Mallory says

    Tara, I love your transparency! The way you wrote this was so witty and made me smile and laugh. You’re a perfect mess, just like all of us!

    • says

      Thanks, Mallory! I’m so relieved it’s a laughable topic and not one that makes people concerned I’ll end up on a future episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive. A perfect mess…I’ll take it!

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