Growing up in southern Christian culture, I was raised with Sunday bests and smocked outfits and seasonal centerpieces. And I’m incredibly proud of my upbringing! But something I have to continually battle now as a woman in my thirties comes down to a message I learned as a little girl, and it comes right back to the term – Sunday best. Somewhere along the lines, I attributed what simply meant don’t look like a slob at church for don’t bring your mess to church. At some point I heard, get your messy parts cleaned up if you’re going to present yourself to the world as a Christian.
I can’t speak for y’all, but I feel certain I’m not alone in this!
And this year of pandemics and lockdowns and all the chaos 2020 has brought with it has left me feeling anything but my Sunday best. I mean shoot, we’ve worked from home in leggings with our slippers on and hair on tops of our heads for nearly all of this year. Nothing feels cleaned up or tidy, and truth be told, many of my prayers have been just as messy as my hair. But let’s embrace as sisters in Christ, that all of our hair is messy, and it’s okay that our prayers are too.
Why can it be so hard for us, especially “strong” Christian women, to accept that our prayers, our struggles, our difficulty trusting God with a crisis we can’t see the end of is okay? The whole gospel shouts and sings for us to come as we are and be honest with God, yet we are still plagued by this expectation that though our hair may be messy, our prayers shouldn’t be.
Jesus loves a mess. He is drawn to the mess. He died for the mess! Because it’s in the mess that we see Him most clearly, need Him most desperately, and have a chance to trust Him more fully than we do on the days when our lives look clean. Jesus loves the mess because He loves us, and His absolute greatest desire is for us to know He’s the only thing that can clean us up.
Praying messy prayers, ones full of hurt and questions and doubt, they don’t diminish our faith. They strengthen it. It’s in the honesty, in the struggle, in the lament to a God who collects and holds tight to all our tears, that our faith grows the strongest. So let’s let our prayers be messy!
As we near the end of this year plagued with viruses and financial strain and social unrest, let us rest in the freedom that our prayers can be messy. We’re women, so we’re strong, enduring, and capable. We know this. But we’re also human, so we’re also a mess. In order to show up honestly, support each other fully, and cling to Jesus deeply, we have to admit that our prayers are just as messy as our hair. Let’s debunk the idea that keeping our faith tidy makes us “better” Christians and embrace the truth that letting our faith be messy creates even greater space for Jesus to come in and for us to come together, even as we continue to be physically and socially isolated.
Bio: My name is Mattie Selecman, and I grew up in Nashville, TN. I currently run a company called NaSHEville and host its subsequent podcast, She’s in the City. Our goal is simple: celebrate sisterhood and empower and encourage women through community and faith!