"My life is a mess.--Messy Spirituality, Chapter One, page 18
After forty-five years of trying to follow Jesus, I keep losing him in the crowded busyness of my life. I know Jesus is there, somewhere, but it's difficult to make him out in the haze of everyday life.
I want to be a good person. I don't want to fail. I want to learn from my mistakes, rid myself of distractions, and run into the arms of Jesus. Most of the time, however, I feel like I am running away from Jesus into the arms of my own clutteredness."
From page one (or rather, page 18, where he begins to share after the foreword written by his wife, Karla), Michael Yaconelli is brutally honest about himself. And, to a point, about the reader.
The premise of Messy Spirituality is based on the foundation that it is relatable. No matter what stage you are at in your faith, it can seem like not enough. You're not spiritual enough, not committed enough; you don't have enough faith, you don't love God enough, you don't share your faith enough, you don't pray enough, you don't read your Bible enough. Everyone tries to measure up to everyone else in a detrimental spiral of comparison and shame, and in the end there is no pay off, because faith is a personal thing. You cannot compare.
Yaconelli suggests that maybe faith "begins with admitting we will never have our act completely together". He addresses spiritual perfectionism as a common struggle, and Messy Spirituality provides thoughts to help change those habits. The growth of your faith is something between you and God, and God sees everyone as they are: messy, imperfect, and absolutely beloved. Pastors, missionaries, worship leaders - they all struggle with the temptations and the doubts of everyday life as much as the next individual. Your position, your profession, your calling - does not determine the level of your faith.
Yaconelli offers encouragement, to those of us who feel like we are not enough. He provides assurance and a sense of direction. He does not necessarily say that your faith doesn't need some work - that would be untrue for anyone, at any point in time - but he wants to remind anyone and everyone who have all somehow forgotten that faith and spirituality are not neat, clear, clean, or straight forward. Not always. Not for everyone. It is a constant, lifelong struggle; a work continually in progress.
And that can be a very comforting thought.
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