A Hot Mess

hot-mess“I’m a hot mess.” I keep hearing that phrase. The term itself is nothing new. It dates all the way back to the nineteenth century. Then a hot mess was a warm meal served to soldiers.

In the last couple of years, however, the phrase has taken on a whole new meaning. According to the Urban Dictionary, a hot mess is “when one’s thoughts or appearance are in a state of disarray but they maintain an undeniable attractiveness or beauty.”

Comedienne Amy Schumer is the epitome of a hot mess, or at least that’s the public persona she portrays. She makes jokes about her messed up personal life. She parties too hard. She often dresses in disarray. She’s a mess.

And yet she also comes across as likeable and attractive. She’s a hot mess.

We all have people in our lives who are an obvious mess. They have problems with drinking or drugs. Their marriages are in shambles. They struggle to function in society. Their lives are messy.

When we see such obvious messes, we sometimes feel sorry for them. Other times we get frustrated. I mean, it’s their own fault, right? They’ve made the mess with their bad choices. Sometimes we even avoid such people because we don’t want their messes spilling over into our lives.

What we so often fail to realize is that we are all a mess. Some of us are just better at hiding it.

I’m a hot mess. On the outside, I maintain an attractive veneer. I am a Christian father and husband. I am a pastor and author. People respect me.

Yet I know what’s in my heart. I see the sins and failures and struggles in my life which no one else can see. I’m a hot mess of weakness, doubt and anxiety. I often feel like a hypocrite, a failure – a fraud.

Then I remember Paul. Paul was an apostle. Jesus himself appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Paul is the greatest missionary the world has ever known. He wrote more books of the Bible than any other writer. Paul was a saint, right?

He knew better. “Here is a trustworthy saying,” Paul wrote to his young protégé, Timothy, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15).

I guess we can understand that. Before Jesus called him to be an apostle, Paul persecuted the church, arrested Christians and then had them killed. He was the worst of sinners.

But that’s not what Paul wrote. He said, “I am the worst.” Even after being called to faith, the great apostle was still a mess. He could see all the sins and failures and weaknesses with which he still struggled. He knew he was a hot mess.

Paul’s comfort – my comfort – is that Christ Jesus came to save dirty sinners like Paul and me. He suffered the punishment of all my secret sins – the messes I’ve made in my heart and life. I am forever forgiven because of Jesus.

And so are you. Whether your life is in obvious disarray or, like me, you are a hot mess, God loves you, mess and all. You don’t have to clean up your act for God to accept you. You don’t have to pretend with him. He sees what a mess you are and loves you anyway. He meets you in your mess and washes you clean in Jesus’ blood. You are a forgiven mess.

Or as the author Kimm Crandall likes to say, “You are his Beloved Mess.”


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