Life. Is. Messy.

The past few months, God has been teaching me to appreciate things a little more deeply. In the midst of this little life lesson, a few other things have come up. Things like love and trust and daring to take chances in places where I’ve failed in the past. And the more I dwell on these things, the more I come to realize that…

Life. Is. Messy.

You won’t make it to the other side without a few bruises and scars. And if you do, you have not experienced the fullest extent of what life was intended to be.

The other day, I busted out the finger paints at the preschool where I work, and you should have seen those kids’ faces. They know how to live. They know how to dive in with both hands and make the most of the messes. They understand what it means to create beauty from chaos.

You would think that children so young are only just learning to live, but I’ve discovered that life and wonder are something you have from birth and are only in danger of forgetting as the years go by. These kids—three and four years old—know the secret to changing the world. Or perhaps they are merely the only ones who are unafraid to try.

I’ve met a lot of admirable people, and I’ve been inspired by the stories of those who have chased their dreams and caught them. But if you were to ask me right now who I want to be like when I grow up, I would probably name one of those bright-eyed children who left their perfect, messy hand prints on my heart. Because, yes, there have been days when my heart was touched by a motivational story, but these children inspire me. Every. Single. Day.

Because of them, I can find beauty in the hundredth rainbow I draw. Because of them, I clap my hands when their constant excavating of the playground uncovers an earthworm.

“You should paint your nails,” they say, and I do. “You should braid your hair,” they encourage, and I will. Because the simplest things delight them and, somehow, their wide-eyed wonder sinks into my heart and makes me delight in the little things, too.

And if I must grow up, I want to do so with at least a hint of the wonder that dances in the eyes of a three-year-old boy when you let him experience the world upside-down for the umpteenth time. I want to live with his trusting heart that is not the least bit concerned that I may drop him on his head. I want to know what it’s like to live with such abandon. But mostly, I want to dive into life headfirst with both hands, unafraid of the messes. Because as a handful of preschoolers recently made abundantly clear to me…

Tell Me a Story…

Tell me a story any day, and I’ll find Jesus in it. Guaranteed.

That’s why I think it’s funny that there are people who consider fiction a waste of time. Fact is all that speaks to them. Even Christian people. People who have read the entire story of the Bible. People who study the STORIES Jesus told.

I think Jesus told more stories than He preached sermons. Or maybe I just remember the stories. Because I’m not one of those people who wants the facts. I want the story. I want to find my own truth through the eyes of a character. There are certain things you could preach to me all day, and I’d turn a deaf ear. But with a story, you’re presenting the truth in a non-threatening way.

Think of King David. After his sin with Bathsheba, God sent Nathan, not to preach a sermon, but to tell a story. (You can check it out in 2 Samuel 12.) Why? Because if Nathan would have barged in there and told David all he had done wrong, David would have gotten defensive. But Nathan didn’t start pointing fingers. He posed a “hypothetically speaking” story that got David’s blood boiling. And that’s when David acknowledges that he has sinned against the Lord.

The story and the sermon have the same message, but only one reaches the heart of the person who hears it. Because only one is capable of disarming the defenses. After all, what threat is there in a story?

I’m reading a story right now that isn’t even a Christian story. It’s mainstream YA fiction, but I see Jesus all over it. It’s a story about taking risks and finding that some things are worth fighting for. It’s about a girl who has lived all of her life in a bubble and is about to break free.

I’m not sure that I’ve lived in a bubble (leastwise, not so much as the heroine in Ally Condie’s Matched), but I’m definitely on the verge of taking a huge risk, so Cassia’s story has been as encouraging and inspirational as it is well-written.

So tell me a story… and it might just be the thing that catapults me into taking that final step and breaking out of the little world I’ve created for myself.

What stories has God used to challenge you lately?

A Lively Tune

“A lively tune. I’m inspired to dance.”

That quote from The Three Musketeers has always, well, inspired me, but never more so than when my mom used it as a closing in a letter to her somewhat dejected daughter. Today I just want to leave you with the same words my mother left me:

May you always be the first to hear a lively tune and be inspired to dance.