Bless This Mess (Somehow, Please)


I’m sitting in my car at Starbucks, writing. I feel stupid, it probably is stupid.  There was a church women’s group meeting at my house. Great group of ladies, but with that much estrogen in the room I figured it was a smart move to skeedaddle.

I’ve finally got the night to myself, without anything to do but enjoy it. The thought was to head to that most esoteric of public spots, the neighborhood Starbucks. Starbucks is the cool place to go, right?

That’s the place you go when you want to be seen being thoughtful, but want to look like you don’t care if you’ve been seen (although you do). There’s usually cool music playing—sometimes jazz, which we all know is “cool” (or “smooth,” as the case may be). People sit around, drink coffee, and do pseudo-intellectual things like read newspapers they never actually purchased, and concentrate on an article from their laptops. And the “interwebs” are free,so what better place could there be to go and write for a while?


Well, the music playing now is a kind of hipster pop. While it does fit the mystique of a Starbucks (with all the mystic you can expect from a coffee shop located in so-very-hip Florida), it is all a little too self-consciously hip for me. I find it hard to think with the incessant thumping of its hipster beats, complete with loose snare head on the drums and raspy female vocals. Feels like someone just turned on “Gossip Girls” or “Dirty Little Secrets.”

I wonder if older folks hang out here because it makes them feel young, hipster vibe and all. But for me, it just makes me feel old. Too many skinny barristas, too much hipster music, too many laptops. By the way, have I used the word “hipster” enough in this piece yet?  Enough to seem hip?

Also, there’s the chairs.

Oh, it’s great if you snag the comfy big brown leather chairs on the inside—those are nice. But a passel of other faux-hipsters are already camped out in those, and I am banished to the outside wicker-ish chairs. These look comfortable, but I believe they are actually designed to make you comfortable enough to drink one cup of coffee only. After this, they progressively become more uncomfortable, forcing you to either get up to buy another cup of coffee or leave so that someone else can sit in them with their new cup of coffee.

So now I’m in the car, laptop shoved rather uncomfortably up against the steering wheel, yet still somewhat more comfortable that I was outside my Starbucks. Not at all what I expected from my ideal evening of self-indulgent writing and coffee-sipping, trying not to look like I wanted to be seen.

Well, I’m successful. Nobody’s seeing me here, planted in my car like a stalker!

I’m discovering things that seem ideal—like a night writing while sitting al fresco in the evening air—are not all they’re cracked up to be. We trudge through our work days, dreaming of that big day when we get time to do “the things we really want to.” However, I’m finding that if you’re waiting for the right moment to enjoy life, you may have already missed it.

I’m in my fifties now. And in reviewing my life, I see that I’ve spent way too much time waiting for things to “calm down” so that I can enjoy myself. Problem is, things rarely do.  There’s always something wrong somewhere—at home, at work, the neighborhood, a friend—things are never “all right.”

So we push our enjoyment off. We say that “when we just have (insert totally arbitrary amount of money…usually a million more than whatever you have) put away, when the kids are grown, when we feel up to it, when work slows down, then we will enjoy ourselves.

But there’s always something.

The nature of this life is that there will always be something wrong. We think we just need things to shift in our direction, but the convergence of conditions we are waiting to align in our favor won’t really happen until…oh… heaven!

Seriously, if you wait for just the right moment to really live, you’ll miss it! One day, you will die waiting to live.

Right now, I’m struggling with a church plant that doesn’t want to grow. I’ve done everything I know to make it work. It’s just not happening. So I’ve surrendered it to God and just decided to enjoy the mess that it is. I am a pastor.

I have church members who love me, who I’ve personally won to Christ, but who unfortunately can’t or won’t tithe enough to help pay the bills. That’s just the way it is. So I can resent them for it, or I can trust God to get me through somehow. But how stupid to let the imperfections destroy my enjoyment of the journey.

The secret of life (yes, get a pen and paper ready, here it comes…) is in enjoying it while things are still a little screwed up. We deceive ourselves into thinking everything has to fall in place perfectly before we can find joy.

But that is a great lie.

Joy can be found…in the midst of dysfunction…sometimes even when the deck is stacked against us. And we are wasting these precious things called “days” if we are waiting for all our ducks to be in a row before we make the choice to really enjoy life!

Bad Pastor
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