When I was a little girl, with utter fascination, I would watch my mother do her hair and makeup everyday. The shimmers, the sheens, the hues – it was all so mesmerizing. She had these jars of pomade and gel that gave her hair a flattering shine. I thought it was all so glamorous. Like most little girls, I wanted to be just like my mom.
One day, I thought to myself, “I want to do my hair like mommy!” I reached into a jar and distributed a generous amount of product through my hair. However, the product I applied to my hair wasn’t a gel or a pomade – it was Vaseline. I didn’t know the difference. When I was discovered, an entire crew of family members began the process of cleaning up my hair. (In case anyone is curious, removing Vaseline from thick curls is no easy task. My mother can vouch for that.)
As she always did, my mother managed to clean up the mess I had made.
Now that I’m a mother, I have a new-found respect for my own mother. Now that I am a mess-cleaner, I suddenly find myself empathizing with her and very apologetic for my youth. It is safe to say that there has been quite a shift in the relationship between my mother and me.
My youngest daughter, Quinn, makes messes constantly. Whatever she can manage to get her hands on, well, it’s going on the floor. Or the walls. Or in her hair. Or down the toilet. Or smeared on the windows. Time after time, I clean up her messes. I make the floor (or the walls, or the windows, or her hair) clean once again.
The frustrating part is I know, I know, that every time I clean up a mess she has made, I’ve given her a clean slate upon which she will make new messes. I know that. Why do us moms do this? Why do we clean up mess after mess after MESS? Well, because we love our kids…
While I no longer put Vaseline in my hair, I still make messes. My sin is mess. It has created a debt, a stain, and an ugliness. Even when we try to clean up our messes, we come up short. Scripture tells us that even our righteousness is like filthy rags. No matter how much we try, we just seem to fumble around awkwardly making a mess out of this life our Father has blessed us with. And God knew that would happen. However, in His infinite wisdom, He had a plan.
See, our Heavenly Father, He isn’t messy. He is a God of order. He is a God who is perfect and holy. He found a way to fix the giant mess our sin has created. When He sent His son to die for us, He cleaned up our mess once and for all. And like the good Father He is, He did it because He loves us.
Perhaps the most famous verse of the Bible is John 3:16. Because God loved us so much, He sent his son to die for us. While He knew we’d be messy, He was willing to do something so vast, so scandalous because we are His children and He loves us. While we were still messy sinners, Christ died for us. And that’s how we know what love is. The fact Christ died for us and God was able to clean up our mess…it truly is miraculous.
Isn’t that what Christianity is all about? We understand that we are wicked and flawed. We understand that we are messy. But Christ, He is perfect, blameless, spotless, and clean. We put our faith in Him, because we simply can’t clean up the mess we have made by ourselves. When we put our faith in Christ, we become a new creation. We are no longer messy, we’re made new; we are made clean.
Perhaps that where true freedom lies: in understanding that our mess has been tidied up for good.