When Lovely is Messy

When was the last time you collaborated on something?  A project at work?  A ministry team at church?  Your neighborhood BBQ?  Or your family reunion? 

I'm in the thick of collaborating.  It's kind of a big project.  So far, the finished product is amazing.  However, the road to get there has, at times, gotten messy. 

You see, I grew up as an only child (Stop it!  I can hear your groans from here!)

The cliff notes version of being an only child....as a species we are not collaborators.  We prefer to pull ourselves up by our boot straps.  We go it alone.  We like to win at games - all the time.  

I speak for all only children everywhere.  We don't collaborate.

This particular collaboration project was unplanned on my part.  My partner in all this collaboration gave me a great idea while we were talking one day.  A whole new project I never planned.  Writing a life coaching Bible study from scratch.  I had plenty of time.  I could do it. 

I have no idea if this is an only child thing or just an Allen thing but I'm also the queen of procrastinators.  To be honest, I do my best work under pressure.  So six weeks to work on this new project dwindled to 10 days.  I could still complete it, right?  

Clearly at this point, I needed an intervention.  I needed someone to come alongside me and help me.  I needed someone who could keep me on track.  I needed someone who could do the dirty work of reading, and writing and editing. 

Enter collaboration.  The thing is it's been a little messy.  For some reason, I need the perfect amount of pressure to be productive at the last moment.  Too much pressure and I crumble.  

Not to mention, my fellow collaborator and I are quite different.  We approach life, conversation, and projects differently.  This has resulted in some stress, some snapping (mostly on my part), and a lot of clarifying conversations. 

And while things may not seem as messy to my friend, they seem messy to me because only children are don't rock the boat people.  Well, at least this one is. 

We were having a moment just the other day.  And I came to this clarifying moment...

Our friendship is both messy and lovely because she makes me a better person.  Out of every clarifying conversation comes a bettering of ourselves.  After talking with her, I want to be a better Christ-follower, a better friend, a better person. 

I've seen this pattern in my life over and over.  What seems like messy really is just lovely.  What seems like fighting is a refining of my heart and character.  On the other side of all those clarifying moments is a moment of beauty. 

I don't about you, but because I'm a don't rock the boat camper I prefer to hide out.  I have had moments in my past when I've wanted to run.  During difficult conversations, I've eyed the door and pondered what would happen if I would get up and just leave mid-sentence. 

But staying there and not bolting out the door has led to the most rewarding friendships I've ever known.  It's led to friendships that have helped me become emotionally healthy and expanded my heart's ability to not only love other people, but love myself as well. 

My current collaboration is no different.  Life is both messy and beautiful at the same time.  

What I love about community is that it has the power to make us better people.  By leaning in when we'd rather lean out, you and I become women who reflect the heart of Jesus. 

So today, on Day 5 of the looking for lovely challenge, I wonder if you lovely isn't found in the messy?  I wonder if you don't have a lovely friendship that is making you a better person?  I wonder if you and I can't find the lovely while we're standing in the middle of our own mess?  Just asking...

I'd love to hear about your people.  You know the people in your lives that make you better people.  Let's decide that they are our lovely for today.