More Than A Mess

Yesterday I declared that I’m a mess, and it’s true. Most areas of my life are in some form of disarray or uncertainty, and freak outs and meltdowns have become fairly common.

However, I’m much more than a mess.

Not because of anything I do, however.

My own capabilities qualify me primarily, and perhaps only, to be a mess right now.

But I’m not. I don’t walk around continually crying or ranting about how I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. I can truthfully say that most (though not all) of the time, I’m fairly content in each moment; only sometimes do all my doubts and uncertainties reduce me to freak out or meltdown mode.

The only way I can credit this is to grace. Only through God’s grace am I able to maintain some sort of perspective on my life, some sort of healthy hope in the future and whatever may come.

Because God doesn’t look at me and see a mess.

He looks at me with love, compassion, and caring.

He sees someone who matters.

He sees a life ripe with potential.

He sees plans for loveliness.

He sees a child who belongs to him.


He sees much better things in me than I see in myself.

I can proclaim my mess, be honest about it, and share the reality of it with others. But I am not stuck in my mess. I am much more than my mess.

And for that, I am incredibly grateful.


Til next time…




My Student Loans Are Teaching Me About Jesus

In a few weeks, I will begin paying off my student loans. When I check my account and see the numbers lined up, reminding me how much I took out to pay for my education and how much I have to pay off, it dismays me. I’ve written before of my fear that perhaps my years and money spent on college were in vain, and it is a fear I continue to face. Most days I can conclude that, yes, it was worth it, but there are always moments of doubt. Very, very slowly, I will whittle away at those numbers reminding me of the price behind my education and memories.

So what would it feel like if suddenly, all my debt was gone?

Each individual loan, reduced to nothing.

Remaining Balance: $0.00



In an instant.


I’d likely cry. Perhaps be inconsolable with relief and elation, imagining what life could now look like without the burdensome load of debt I have been carrying. There would be so much more I could do, free of these financial bonds. I could move out of my parents’ house, visit friends spread around the globe, save for unforeseen expenditures, and, I hope, begin to cultivate a more generous lifestyle.

What a gift it would be.


About a month ago, we sang the song “Jesus Paid It All” in church. The refrain goes like this:

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

I’ve grown up singing the song once in a while, and have always found the words to be nice and the melody enjoyable.


But it takes on a new meaning when I am facing student loan payments, now only weeks away from being due.



Jesus will not be paying off my loans, but he has paid off something much greater than money.

The terminology we use to talk about finances shares terms with Christianity. Until now, and for a few more weeks, I have been in a “grace period.” When grace ends, my debts must be paid.

If my sins were turned into actual, monetary debt, I’d never begin to cover it. No matter how many hours a week I worked for the rest of my life, the pile would only continue to grow.

Fortunately, the grace of Christianity is vastly unlike the grace of financial institutions. It is grace that does not end, grace that knows no bounds, grace that overwhelms.

Grace that pays all my debts, even though I do not deserve it.


I took out loans to help get me through college; I never thought they’d teach me about Jesus.


Til next time…



p.s. Thoughts? Leave a comment.

Listen to the song:


Shimmers of Grace

Much of my weekend so far has been spent grading papers, which is giving me a new appreciation for teachers and professors. In the future, if you get a paper or test back with food stains on it, don’t judge. Grading is hungry work.

Besides increasing my appetite, I’m finding it to be interesting in other ways. Many of the papers I’ve graded today have been about the seven deadly vices, which are things I don’t think about often–perhaps because doing so is not overly pleasant.

Anger. Lust. Envy. Gluttony. Vainglory. Sloth. Avarice.

Even the words have a menacing look to them, as though they might bare their fangs and hiss at me.

The thoughts, desires, and actions these words stand for are much more menacing than their letters.

As I read papers detailing some of these vices, it is hard to keep from cringing; my life is splayed across the page, in all the examples and stories. Even vices I would at first be quick to dismiss play some role, however small, in my day to day life. I’ve skimmed the book the students based their papers on–Glittering Vices, by Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung–and it is incredibly convicting. No one can completely deny the reality of these sins.

Yet in the book, and in these papers as well, I can’t help noticing shimmers of hope. Or, more accurately, grace. Hope because of grace.

Because though DeYoung’s words, and also my students’, cause me to squirm (and rightly so), there is much more to the story than being consumed by the menacing scourge of the seven deadly vices. DeYoung offers concrete suggestions for recognizing and combating them in our own lives, but they are meaningless without grace.

Grace that opens up the possibility of improvement.

Grace that offers a new way to live.

Grace that means my own inability to defeat these vices is covered by Jesus’ perfect ability to do just that.

Shimmers of grace that overwhelm the glitter of vices.


Til next time…