When Lent is Messy

by | Mar 14, 2012 | Uncategorized

Suitcases lie on the bedroom floor, clothes drape over the zipper edges like prisoners trying to escape. An open hanging bag pilfered for the jacket he thought we left behind covers the chaise lounge. I move things from one surface to the next trying to find the shoes I need to wear.

In the family room, clean laundry from this week and the folded towels from last week, they stack neatly around the edges of the couch among the cords, headsets, and controllers.

I decide to call the crew.  Tell them that they can’t come and clean today because sometimes you have to clean up the mess you made before the real cleaning can take place. And that can take a while.

Living Lent recognizes the messiness of life, so He can do the deep soul cleaning.

The red chested finch, he swings on the empty feeder, bobbing his head sharp like robot pecking steel for food.  He pauses in the direction of my writing window and I wonder how long he will continue to make the journey back to an empty storehouse. How long it will take him to recognize when it is full again. How long it will take me to stop procrastinating.

Living Lent reminds me that my choices have consequences for others.

Because my storehouses can run tired empty in a parking lot conversation with a friend when opinions differ, when my child interrupts my thoughts for the third time in the same paragraph, when time runs a sprint and I am doing a marathon.

Grace extends like a scarf blowing long in breeze of wind when the heart is full of what feeds life.

I extract the brown crunchy flowers among the endurance runners in the vase.  A fragrant bouquet I held in wet paper towel under the glow of the dashboard last week. Because they were travelling the next day and why don’t you enjoy them for us they said, after serving us a dinner for kings.

Living Lent separates the dry and brittle places that winter the soul; exposes the vibrant summer, dancing barefoot in the rain places.  

The light fixture over my vanity holds four different glass shades. Each one is distinctly different in color, shape and design. We’re trying to decide. One falls off without warning, lands into the sink, shatters into tiny shards on the counter and around my feet.  One breaks, now all have to be replaced.

Living Lent reveals the broken places in preparation for renewal.

And when someone asks me how I hear God, what I do to observe Lent, I think about the pull of choices that determine how love and grace reveal themselves in the everyday. In the laundry and cleaning up, over random conversation and fixing  what is broken.

In the messy of the mundane, He reminds me of my own frailty, how much I need Him. How grateful I am that resurrection is coming.

Just whispering here – I filled the bird feeder and they are enjoying the riches.


How are you experiencing Lent? What are some of the ways you are seeing differently during this season of preparation? Join us here in community as we ponder the scriptures together  through daily readings. And if you haven’t done so already, add your email address to Follow Redemptions Beauty and “Like” my Facebook page (both in the right hand column).


 Linking with God Bumps & God Incidences, Painting ProseWord Filled Wednesday, Thought Provoking Thursday40 Days of Seeking Him.

Subscribe for Shelly’s stories and free resources here: https://shellymillerwriter.com/free-resources/


  1. Jennifer@GDWJ

    Really settling in here on that phrase about cleaning up the messes we make before the deep soul-cleaning can work properly. I am thinking how my soul needs an Oreck or maybe one of those powerful wet-vacs. 🙂 . I am continually in amazement over the way God loves us right in the middle of our messes. Astounding grace….

    • Redemption's Beauty

      You are so funny Jennifer. I get so stressed over all of what tugs at me in the course of a day and then I remember that He extends grace in the midst of the messy. So thankful.

  2. Jen

    Yes, Lent shows me my frailty, sometimes my lack of strength. Lent shows me that even when I have the best intentions, the best laid plans, it all can go awry. And yet, Lent shows me grace. That it is not about accomplishing a task, but about pressing into a Savior. It’s not about meeting a goal, but about surrendering to a Giver. It’s not about being perfect, but about accepting a sacrifice for those black stains in my life.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Beautifully said Jen. Sounds like you are experiencing a true preparation during Lent.

  3. Michele @ A Life Surrendered

    It’s the constant interruptions that have been revealing the mess in my own heart, these days… As a homeschooling mama, my time to think through and type a whole paragraph without 5 interruptions only happens when dark has set in and this mama is already spent.

    I must come more and more the place of refilling this empty “storehouse” … that should be permeating His glory… and giving grace abundantly as it is given to me….

    For today… this post of yours is a beautiful reminder of how to find my way…

    Blessings to you…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Michele, always touched by your thoughtful comments. I can imagine you are a wonderful teacher to your children, in more ways than one.

  4. Debra

    I find myself pondering your posts, savoring the beauty and wisdom you bountifully share. Long after the read, I contemplate the sweet freshness, like new manna or new wine sent from a heavenly messenger.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Debra, that means a lot to me. If they are manna or new wine, that is truly grace for which I am so grateful. Without His inspiration, I really wouldn’t know what to write.

  5. Deidra

    Lent is new for me this year, and something has opened up in me. This year, Lent is a thin place – in the way thin places are talked about in Celtic traditions. Your words here walk gently, right along the thin places, and I feel like I should whisper or take off my shoes or something like that…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Deidra, I read your comment out loud to H and we were both touched. Those thin places – they are where we hope to be too.

  6. Debbie Petras (@Panda444)

    Your words are so rich. I find that I cannot simply read through quickly or I miss something. You write so beautifully.

    I am in the midst of moving but trying to keep perspective during this time of Lent. How grateful I am that the Lord is always with me. He is my strength and I look forward to Resurrection Sunday as I will celebrate it in my home church once again. 🙂

    Blessings and love,

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Well, I think any writer would have a smile on their face after reading your comment. Thank you. I have moved eight times and know how hard it is to keep perspective amidst all that distraction. But He can certainly speak in any circumstance. Nice to hear from you Debbie, amidst the boxes and paper!

  7. Doug Debbie Crawford

    Your pictures and words are beautiful. Makes me want to consider observing Lent in my own life.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I photographed all that beauty at Brookgreen Gardens, a local place established years ago that was once a rice plantation. This time of year, when the new life buds out, the canvas is unlimited behind the lens. Glad you enjoyed them. And I haven’t always observed Lent in my life, but I can say that with each year I have, the journey is even more rich.

  8. Denise

    Awe inspiring post.

  9. wolfsrosebud

    breath-taking blooms… Messes are part of this old life… one day we’ll leave them all behind

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thank goodness we will leave all the mess behind!

  10. Laura O'Neill (@LauraOinAK)

    Beautiful photos for such a moving post.

    Thank you for linking up to the 40 Days of Seeking Him meme.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Laura, so glad I found the 40 Days community and thanks for visiting.

  11. kd sullivan

    Your words draw me closer to Him and closer to understanding a new view of the lenten season. Thank you dear heart.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Kim, I have to tell you that when I read your comment I was a in a moment of self-doubt and prayer. Asking God some hard questions and your words felt like His answer. Thank you friend.

  12. Nancy Franson (@nancyfranson)

    WordPress is not letting me comment today! Grrrr…
    Anyway. I just said something deeply profound (I’m sure) about how I’m not really observing Lent, at least not in a formal way, this year. The past couple of years have felt like a long Lenten season, a time of relinquishment and stripping away. Seasons like Lent help me understand the need for times like this. They show me how much I need Jesus in the messiness of life.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh my, I haven’t heard of anyone having trouble but I am thankful that you wrestled through on my behalf. I always enjoy connecting with you Nancy. You put a smile on my face. I know those seasons you describe. In some ways I think I am in one now. It is a lonely, raw place to be but good at the same time.

  13. cbuxton03

    I’m experiencing Lent in a really wonderful way through a small group program that our church is doing. It is thought provoking and challenging, but also uplifting and encouraging. I feel like the Lord is working on all of us, and it is good.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      That sounds amazing Courtney. It is such a gift to walk through Lent in community with people on the same road. Where do you attend church in Charleston?

  14. Trish @ A House Upon The Rock

    Life IS messy, but then so was the love He gave us when He sacrificed His life for us.

    The cross was messy.

    Grace…His never ending grace…beautiful.

    Another wonderful post. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Trish, thanks for that reminder that the cross was messy too. Thankful for grace today . . .and for meeting you during Lent.

Pin It on Pinterest