Showing Up Messy – Ignatian Spirituality


One afternoon right before the end of the fall semester, a smiling child came rushing down the school hallway shouting, “Mom, I just have to tell you something!”

The sight of him at that moment made me chuckle and sigh almost simultaneously. First, his pants had a tear right above the knee that I know was not there that morning. His other knee was dirty with something red. (I am pretty sure it was marker but, knowing him, it could have been blood.) It was also clear that he tried to put his jacket on after he put on his backpack, because one arm was securely in the armhole while the rest of the jacket was sliding and scraping along the ground. Before he could tell me whatever it was that was so important, he whipped around to see if his brother was following him, and the contents of his unzipped backpack scattered across the floor. Oblivious to the mess he created, he said with urgency, “Mom, you just have to see the coolest thing I made in the STREAM lab today!”

This is not an unusual way for my child to show up for me at the end of a long school day. He is often the perfect storm of messy and beautiful all wrapped up in one little body.

Sometimes, I lack compassion for this beautiful mess, especially at the end of a long day. Other times, however, I am absolutely struck by the honesty and abandon with which he shows up. I think his realness in these moments makes me love him even more.

That makes me wonder, What if I showed up to God like this—messy, disheveled, perhaps a little bloody, yet bursting with excitement at what I have to offer? Would it try God’s compassion for me? Or would it deepen God’s love for me and strengthen our relationship with one another?

As this new year begins, I am tempted to try to make myself better. I am drawn to trying a new exercise regime, a new diet, a new planner, and/or a new organizational system to work on improving myself and my family. To be honest, working to make myself better is a temptation I feel every time a new year comes to pass.

But what if this year, instead of spending all my energy trying to improve myself and others, I focused on showing up as the real me?

What would it be like if I allowed myself to show up to God and others as a messy, imperfect human, who is full of excitement about what life has to offer?

What would it be like if you did the same?

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels.

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