The Key Isn’t the Mess, It’s the Response

February 3, 2019

Categories: Resilience

I was listening to a sermon the other day, and the pastor was talking about how to deal with the “messes” in our life. It’s something we can all relate to, isn’t it? We all have certain aspects of our life that feel like a mess. Maybe our job is a mess right now. Or maybe we’re dealing with a health problem. Perhaps we’re walking through a relationship mess. Whatever it is, it doesn’t feel good to be in a mess. We usually want to do something to “fix it” or clean it up.

Defined by Our Mess

Sometimes it feels like we will never get out of our mess. It might feel like we will be defined by our mess forever. We will always be known as an addict, divorced, unemployed, fill in the blank. We can become disheartened and lose hope.

The Key is the Response

But the pastor said something that I think can be encouraging for anyone who currently finds themselves in the midst of a mess. The message was this: the key isn’t the mess, it’s the response to the mess.

Mess = One Sentence

Over the years, he has talked to a lot of people who found themselves in all sorts of messes. Some of the messes were caused by their own decisions. Other messes were caused by difficult circumstances and relationships. But in every case, the important thing about the person’s story wasn’t the mess itself. Often the mess got reduced to one sentence as the person shared their story. For example, “I struggled with an addiction.” “I went through a tough divorce.” “My business went under.” “I got diagnosed with cancer.”

Response = The Good Stuff

One sentence. The important part of the person’s story wasn’t the mess itself, it was the person’s response to the mess. “I got clean, and this is how God has been using me…” “It was tough, but we’ve worked hard to remain friends and raise our kids well…” “After I went through bankruptcy, I found a new job…” “After I was diagnosed, I got in touch with what was most important to me…”

The most important parts of life aren’t found in our circumstances. Our circumstances go up and down. Everyone goes through pain, difficulty, and struggle. Everyone has some days, weeks, months, or even years that suck. The important part isn’t in the mess. The key is how we respond to it. And when it comes to our response, we always have a choice.


What is one thing you are struggling with in your life right now? It might be hard to believe, but when it comes to your story, this difficult time might boil down to one sentence. How could you respond in a way that moves your life forward toward where you want to go?


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