I am utterly convinced that for the sake of my sanity, I need to be who I am – this world needs me to be who I am and sometimes that means not necessarily following tradition and somehow mustering the courage to let my mess show. We are each, in our own ways, “a hot mess” and being a Christian sometimes kicks the heat up a notch. I can choose to run away from it or completely take leave of my faith and subsequently my senses, but for my sake, and for Christ's, I choose not to be independent. I choose to lean and learn and I choose to face the fire like Daniel's friends in the Bible did. Maybe one day, I'll come out completely refined — A Hot Mess: The Bumpy Road to Redemption.
“I’ve made a mess of me; I want to get back the rest of me; I want to spend the rest of my life alive.” When I think about a hot mess, I think first about that song by the band Switchfoot playing at full volume in a messy kitchen. Spaghetti hanging off the chandelier, meatballs and tomato paste running down the sides of the walls, dirty dishes scattered everywhere, the fridge door ajar and oozing with unidentifiable liquids, the smoke detector going off under the heat of rising smoke from food burning on a stove. I hope you get the picture at this point. It is a total mess and a hot one at that. Anyone who walked into a kitchen like that would go “What the…?!?” and then go “There’s no way I’m cleaning that up!” Where would you begin? That’s how I felt about my life at one point – like I needed to call in professional help to get it all cleaned out. Self-help books, therapy, psychology, the list is endless. Okay, not really endless, but it’s pretty long for a twenty-something.
A HOT MESS: The Bumpy Road to Redemption is a set of “recollections from war” – different stories from the battlefield of life – sometimes calm, sometimes funny, sometimes emotional and sometimes raving mad, but all the time sincere and true. Stories told in different ways either of personal experiences or things I have been so fortunate/unfortunate to witness. So brace yourself, you’re in for quite a ride if you decide to take this journey with me.
From pieces of a broken heart, I am a little calmer now. A wise fellow once told me that the beauty is in the mending. “Where is my mending?” I used to ask “When does my mending begin?” I asked out loud once. Seated in the only chair in a partially empty room, clutching my cup of chai, memories came rushing in. Outside, the rain was pouring; the lights were out – another evening without electricity – and the moon bore her soul to me through my glass window. She looked alone and grey as the dark rain clouds threatened to engulf her; she must have know how I felt. SIGH. Surely the moon must have known all about emptiness. As I stared out into the pouring rain, I realised that the moon and I had something in common – we borrowed from the sun and in that instant, the moon and I understood each other and we become companions.
The moon and I became companions? Seriously? How does that happen? It happens when, after several heartbreaks [yes, another story about a guy], you finally decide to open yourself up to someone only to get shot down and rejected, left to pick up the pieces of your broken heart. You somehow muster the foolishness [not courage] to get on your knees and beg him to love you; yell and scream at him to date you; throw your brain out the window, strip down to your bare minimums and ask him all sorts of desperate sounding questions because you cannot believe you have just been rejected by someone you thought you had hit it off with. Indeed, wonders never cease and neither do acts of foolishness.
So in a bid to save yourself and get over him, you pick up off the floor what’s left of your dignity and walk out the door of faith and into the door labeled “anger, bitterness, resentment and really dumb decisions”. You drop the little that’s left of your dignity in the trash can right next to the pride and self worth you’ve just stripped yourself of, you walk over to the wardrobe of shame and pick out the most colourful dress labeled “slutty whore” and then you pick out accessories made by “drunkardsRUs”: shoes made to party like crazy and you chew on that “cussing” gum like it’s going stale really soon. Now you’re ready to go out and party like a rock star. Welcome to desperate-ville young lady, it’s a harsh and lonely stay; so buckle up.
By this time on my trip down memory lane, my cup of chai had gone cold and I walked to the kitchen to get a re-fill. It was dark and chilly in there. I could here the rain fall against the iron sheets of the shed. The floor tiles drained my feet of their heat, reminding me that I had forgotten to put on my slippers. I felt around in the dark for a match box so I could light the gas stove. Thank God for a gas stove, I thought to myself. As the water boiled and I lit a candle, my thoughts went back to my bare feet. I remembered my party shoes and my clubbing days, I smiled to myself as I poured my cup and walked back to my spot in the half-empty room. Those were the days. I remembered that stint in the club…
As foolishness would have it, when you’re dressed for shame and living under the shelter of bitterness and shame, you do dumb sh*t like let your friend’s boyfriend seduce you or rather, you seduce your friend’s boyfriend. You think to yourself, “I’m only testing him. If he really loves her, he’ll say no”. It’s a deep cut, granted, but because you’re hurting like hell and you’re doing all these things to numb the pain you feel on the inside. When all is said and done, you’re only much further down the road of anger and bitterness because now, all men are not just mean, they are liars and cheats because you’ve witnessed it first hand – you got a chance to be “the other woman”.
Phew, talk about a hot mess! You’re none the wiser because the people you call your friends are NONE-er THE WISER than you are – you used to be the voice of reason until you “saw the light” outside the door of faith. Now, you’re one of them, coasting along and wasting away trying to numb the pain and still your aching heart; dating a guy whose only aim in life is to get high and ALSO “party like a rock star”. It’s sad, really because you’ve walked out of the only place that could help you [when you walked out the door of faith] and chose to dwell under the shadow that is bitterness, anger and resentment [I didn’t forget dumb choices]; walked out on your voices of reason; chose to wallow in your own muck of sorrow and brood over your so called misfortune, now the way bad seems impassable.
The harsh reality of consequences hits when you come to learn that your closest party bud found out she has an incurable STD 6 months ago and you’d probably slept with the same guys; two other girlfriends of yours are 19 and pregnant – one carrying a married man’s child and the other doesn’t know who the baby-daddy is – and they’re borrowing money from you and other friends to “take it out”, as they called it. “When did I become an accessory to abortion?” you wonder. You don’t know who you are anymore; you’ve dug a hole so deep, you don’t know how to come out and everyone else in that hole with you is too wasted to help you out. “LORD, I WANT OUT!” you yell, but all you hear is the sound of your own voice, echoed back by the emptiness in your soul.
Suddenly, the half empty room I was in became filled with light. I looked at my now half empty pot of chai, then to the window which formerly streamed in the rays of moonlight. Instead of the moon, I stared straight at my reflection and realised that the electricity was back on. Looking intently at my newly visible reflection in the window glass, I noticed the frown on my face. That last part was painful to think about. Thankful that it was only a trip down memory lane, I got up out of the chair and walked to the bedroom to get ready for bed – I would take the pot and cup to the kitchen in the morning. Every room in the house was carpeted except the kitchen, bathroom and toilet. Walking to the kitchen meant acquiring cold feet – my slippers were still missing.
Turning off the lights in the half-empty room, I walked into my bedroom. The rain had stopped, I realised as I closed my bedroom window. The rain had stopped, electricity was back and the past was in the past. Nothing lasts forever. I smiled as I got in between cool, crisp sheets and a blanket. As I closed my eyes, I whispered a prayer of gratitude, for storms weathered and calmed, for light at the end of the tunnel and for gas to make a fresh pot of chai even in the midst of a black-out. I thanked God for tender mercies as I drifted off to sleep.
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