I have struggled lately to be patient with messy people. If I’m honest, I have likely always struggled with this, but I see it acutely now. My faith (as I evolve in my understanding of it) continually drags me back to important truth — everyone deserves love, everyone and everything is likely redeemable, and cleanliness is next to Godliness. None of those statements are in the Bible, but I like the first two. And I was just making sure you were paying attention on that last one! It’s BS.

With apologies to John Wesley (and the soap industry), messiness seems closer to Godliness than cleanliness. I’m not just talking about the inside of my car, bad credit, or the grime in my shower. The mess that is in all of us blends in with our surroundings, stretching from the womb to the tomb. It’s here. It’s inescapable. It’s why we need salvation. Godliness seems to cozy up to the mess. Godliness sees a pristine chalice made of the finest silver and the permanent stains of residue inside of that cup. Godliness sees white washed-tombs and white-washed statues. It also knows the stories behind those tombs and those statues that no degree of white-washing (or iconoclasm) can make acceptable.

Godliness seems to press in when we say the wrong things. Godliness knows we are messes. It hears when we say dumb stuff, and when people call us dumb. Godliness also watches us pat ourselves on the back when people applaud at the supposedly smart things we think we say. Godliness cozies up to our pride. Godliness cozies up to our shame. Godliness just gets cozy; it walked this dust-covered earth and loved its grime. Godliness embraced lepers, liars, and corpses, calling them beautiful. Its roots are transcendent, but its branches are incarnate. Those branches grab us, and they hold on for dear life, because we are messes.

Godliness sees everything and loves it nonetheless. It sees nuance where we see one truth. It sees real truth where we get tangled in the mire of what we think is nuance. Godliness takes all of our chatter and labor about nuance and truth, right and wrong, and it makes a tapestry quilt of our best selves. Godliness is kind, so it shows us that quilt once in a while (holes and all). While we may bicker about or wallow in the misery of deeds left undone and misdeeds performed far too well, Godliness cozies up to that stuff. It warms us when we suffer in the cold of our loneliness, and fans us when we are too hot for our own good. Godliness is cozy, and it’s good, not scary.