4 steps to take once you realize you’re a hot mess

Have you ever longed to be in a place where you could take off your mask? I found myself in such a place quite a few years ago. It was a time I struggled in marriage, parenting, work, and even with stuff no one wants to admit like habitual lying and struggles with pornography. I knew I was a hot mess but I kept it a secret. At the time, I was the worship pastor at a local church in South Carolina. The pressures of being in a ministry position in the public eye easily led to my own personal masquerade party. I accumulated quite a few layers of masks, in fact, from years of serving in church leadership. I bought into the lie that, as a pastor, I should have my stuff together and never mess up. So I buried my struggles. I continued the façade of the perfect marriage. I covered up my lack of financial judgment and irresponsibility with lies. I hid my struggles with pornography. And I pushed the weak man I was down deep into the shadows of my heart. I couldn’t afford anyone knowing what a mess I was inside. My reasoning was sound, right? Too many people were watching me as a pastor and a role model for me to stumble.

Can you relate to my story? Have you gotten to the point where you’re realize you’re a hot mess? Has your life become so unmanageable you know you can’t continue the masquerade? The problem with messes is they eventually end up everywhere unless the root cause is addressed. You can focus on cleaning up the symptoms of behaviors and actions, but you will eventually wear yourself out. Or, you can choose to dig into the heart issues the symptoms grow from. If you ever want to be free from the hot mess, you must pursue heart transformation and not behavior modification. 

I imagine you feel like you’re standing at the bottom of an insurmountable mountain. But the only way to climb a mountain is one step at a time. It takes a lot of courage, perseverance, and hard work, but it can be done. In fact, the mountain has been climbed by many people before you, each one in search of freedom from the mess their lives have become. Leverage the path they used to conquer the journey by following in their steps.

So here we are at the trailhead. I want to provide you with a map to get you going, but be forewarned. The journey will be hard at times, but at the end of it is the most amazing sight you’ve ever seen. It’s you living free from the hot mess and enjoying life like never before. So let’s get started. Here are some of the first steps you should take.

1. Acknowledge you’re a mess. Put the shovel down you’re using to bury your skeletons with. Unlock the door you’re hiding your true self behind. Stop creating more drama, messes and trouble for yourself. Avoid the stupid things you did to get you into the mess in the first place. And realize you are not the only one that’s a hot mess.

2. Realize you can’t handle the mess on your own. No one is more ill-equipped than you to clean up your mess. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, you’ll always be tending to the symptoms instead of the cause. It’s a heart issue and, trust me, you will need help navigating through it.

3. Take ownership of the mess. Stop blaming everyone else. You may have had a partner in crime, but you stepped in it by your own choice. Nobody can force you to screw up your life. And realize there is freedom in owning up to your mistakes.

4. Admit you need help cleaning up the mess. Swallow your pride and ask for help. Countless people have found this kind of help from God. After all, He is bigger, stronger, and smarter than you’ll ever be. And if you disagree with me, you might want to take another look at step one above.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is. What I laid out here is just a rewording of the first few steps of the 12 Steps. When I embraced the concepts found within the steps, I discovered freedom. My goal here is to help you realize this process of recovery and healing is applicable to everyone, not just those who struggle with substance abuse. We all are a hot mess, some are just better at hiding it. When you come to a place where you admit it, tell someone and take your first steps toward freedom!

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