Messes of Mine

Posted on Saturday~March 21, 2009

A friend I've had for over ten years mailed me some pictures from back when we first met. I fanned through memories of another time, another Heather. One who is much the same as the current version, but also entirely different.

In those pictures I saw a trip Up North, one I'd nearly forgotten. And then I flipped to some photos of a vacation to Mexico, one I'll always remember. And even more flashbacks of our daily adventures as servers at Don Pablo's, ones that included the beautiful smiles of friends made and kept, and some who've moved on or away.

My heart aches when I see pictures from years ago. I wish I could hold tightly to all those people, to keep the memories fresh. To never forget what I learned.

My friends and I, we look so different now than we did then. It all goes by so fast.

I don't remember thinking I was all that young at the time. But I was embarking on life, one that held no classes, papers, exams or even pop quizzes. I went walking away from higher education with absolutely no idea what choices to make or exactly how I wanted to live.

So I floundered, spun circles, looked ahead at a completely empty canvas and had no idea where to find the right brush, the pencils, the charcoal, the paints. No, I didn't even know what kind of an artist I wanted to become.

And now I look at those pictures and I see how young I was. And the girl I am now realizes I would have given me more of a break, told myself to take my time. I would have said, "it's just fine that you don't know."

Please don't think there's something wrong with you. Because then you'll act like there's something wrong with you even though there's not, and you can't take those mistakes made out of insecurity back. You can't start over. Hey! Stop it! You're going to make a mess of your canvas! Walk away from that brush, it's not working, it's bristles are bent, you deserve a better one. Get a better one! Don't just take any old project you're offered just because you think that's all you can get! You're an artist. A woman. A daughter. A sister. A friend. Stop living like you have no value!

You are!...Worthy. Lovely. Beautiful. Smart. Young.

Yes, I wish I could tell her that.

The funny thing is, I doubt she would have listened. Some people just need to learn through living, through floundering, through mistakes. And sometimes that makes the canvas a big ol' mess.

A beautiful mess.

Splatters of the bright red of a broken heart, and then an even deeper red of another love lost. A thousand shades of blue dropped carelessly, tears for the losses and the pain. The slashes of black, the shame and anger. Purples and greens thrown in circles, so many circles of error.

So my heart hurts when I look at the Heather in these pictures.

But not because I regret her.

I understand her. She is with me now, forcing the artist in me to see the canvas differently, as a clean slate.

A mother. A wife. Full of experiences that bring me clarity and a way of loving that wouldn't be there without the messy works of art I've created. The ones that have been redeemed, pulled from the muck, brushed off and hung in the light.

A light that makes them look perfect even in the face of all of their imperfections.

The pieces that could have been hidden in a pile of rubbled shame, they hang on the walls of my heart and they change the beat. They keep it's rhythm, pounding and pumping, growing stronger and making me more unconditional than I would have ever been.

Mistakes. Messes.
They bring the chance to,

Because I've lived the messy life.

And I'm still worthy. Loved. Forgiven. Known. Accepted. Beautiful.
And so are you.
Always an artist with a clean slate.


Some works of my past art I've left behind, made a choice to walk away.
Others will always be a part of my life's portfolio. I love them.
The smears, the smudges and the splatters. They are me. They are mine.
They are memories, friendships, love and life.

Grace, making any canvas beautiful.

So to the Heather of then: It's going to be alright. No matter what you do, no matter where you go, no matter what you decide... All of it really does work together, keeping you good. Always good. In the end you'll become the mother, the wife, the friend, the daughter, and the sister you've always wanted to be...and you'll still make messes, but they too will one day be beautiful. You'll look back and see how young you were now. You'll see the messes, and maybe you'll even want to hold them close.

35 clicked right here to comment:

Deb said...

heather. HEATHER! seriously? i don't even know what to say. i want to say that your words jumped out from the screen and wrapped themselves around me like a friggin blanket, but people write how moved they are all the time and that just isn't even enough. let me think about it for a while. your post will be read multiple times by me. and hopefully MANY others.

MoziEsmé said...

Beautiful post.

My hubby and I have talked a bit recently about if we would have done things differently back then, if we knew then what we know now. And I sort of wish I could go back - not to do things differently, but because I miss who I was back then - unjaded, still expecting the perfect life.

Life changes us all, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. But even though we're stuck with some consequences, it's good to know we can start with a fresh attitude and that God takes us right where we're at.

Thanks for this reminder...

Lee of MWOB said...

There's all kinds of colors bleeding onto my canvas today.....all made by my insane children.

And that's what's amazing about this post Heather...even though you were speaking about your past, it hit me as all about the now. Today. My messes were different than yours early on...but I'm still making messes today. Mainly as a mom. But it's all good. Because one day I'll have a canvas as wide as the Grand Canyon and there will be all sizes of hands and footprints all over it and I'll know it is mine. All mine.

Gorgeous post - and wow - YES! to the artist that you are today....

Mammatalk said...

Now,that's beautiful, lady. This is why I visit again and again.

Kristina P. said...

Once again, another AMAZING post.

You know, this made me realize that things actually fell very much into the place for the old me, and I'm happy with where my life is. I feel like the life I live now is the one I always felt I should have had, 10 years ago.

Angie said...

I am weeping. You are so gifted!

Just imagine what it will be like on that day when we meet our Artist face to face... and he shows us our portrait. All those reds and blues and greens and blacks and purples won't swirl in craziness, but in the perfect portrait of grace, and it will be breathtaking.

Until that day, friend, keep painting with your beautiful life and your talented words. I'll be here to read them and applaud the painter. :)

Heidi Ashworth said...

You are so darn insightful! It's wonderful to get to the point in your life when you realize the mistakes you always felt so awful about are part of the fabric of your very being. They are part of who you/we are. It's what made us *what* we are. We aren't here to be perfect, just to learn to be better than we were. Love it!

Annette Lyon said...

This is beautiful--got me weepy--and hit home in a very poignant way.

Muthering Heights said...

...yep, and the messes of yesterday have brought you here! :)

Less Toil Traci said...

Heather...you are amazing. Oh, how I have thought/felt these same things when I look back at the young Traci. Wow.

Less Toil Traci said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erin said...

I like the sentence "a beautiful mess." I'm sure we all feel that way at times. Thank you for this post.

LexiconLuvr said...

You're so profound, Heather. This could have been me in every syllable. This is beautiful. You are beautiful.

Kazzy said...

When I look at pictures of me 25 years ago I get an anxious feeling, knowing I didn't even know my husband yet. I feel weird. Unsettled. I was on a different track and could have had a completely different life, without my companion and my babies. Ugh.

susette said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mrs boo radley said...

What a fabu perspective.

My eyelids are heavy and I'm ready to slide off the leather sofa into a pile of golden slumber drool, but I'm so glad I read this first. Gives me something to ponder on the morrow.

Morrow. That's a great name. Even better when you consider my husband's first name...which, actually, is not really Boo believeitornot.

Okiedaise, good night my friend!

Francesca said...

this is the 4th time i have read this post. beutiful.
i love your writing!

messyfunmommylife said...

What a beautiful post. I will be graduating college next year and I am completely at this point. blank canvas. where do I go. I think we all have messes beautiful messes.

Ronda's Rants said...

You are a gifted writer and I mean this sincerely...What a beautiful post and I will ponder this all day!!

Becky said...

This is just fantastic. The old me wishes she could have known the old you, cuz I think we could have been pals.

Homesteading said...

amen, sista!

Melanie J said...

Beautiful. I'm glad I'm finally old enough to be gaining bits of wisdom.

Abra said...

Life in Abstract Form.... I love this :)

Wendi @ Every Day Miracles said...


I hardly even know what to say - I don't want to always repeat myself about how amazing, beautiful, and profound I find yoru writing to be. :) But it's just true.

Blogs are wonderful, but when I read yours I feel like it is in a league beyond blog world.

Have you ever had any thing published, or thought of having any thing published? I think you should. :)

This post was a perfect example of God's redeeming love - he makes beauty out of all of our messes!

Anonymous said...

I was just stopping by from Mormon Mommys. You're an awesome writer, I loved this. Cute blog

pam at beyondjustmom said...

Amazing, Heather. I too have been thinking about that person I used to be. . . old friends on Facebook have been haunting me for weeks! I love how you put all of those jumbled thoughts and feelings into words. And how your portrait is so perfect now.
To clean slates!

Eowyn said...

Sometimes I miss the past me, but mostly I'm so glad I'm not making those dumb mistakes any more. . .not that there aren't so many more to make, but I digress.

This was a beautiful post Heather.

3 Bay B Chicks said...

I'm a pretty chatty girl, Heather. However, whenever I try to comment after reading your posts, I am never satisfied with what I write. I draft and I redraft.

I guess it is mostly because I usually read your posts a few times and mull them over. I may not be your best commenter, but I swear if we ever meet in real life, you will probably be a little afraid of my ability to recite what you write on command.

I read your blog, and then I think, what the hell is this girl doing reading our site? Maybe it provides a bit of comic relief, but I always amazed that you would even click over our way.


PS: You can totally call me Fran. All my friends do, and I claim you as my friend to whoever will listen. I also think only my Mom actually uses my full name.

Motherboard said...

That was a beautiful post! I sometimes wish I could yell out to the me of the past and say: "Just hold on! It gets better!"

You are such a gifted wordsmith! I hope some day I can meet you in real life!

Debbie said...

I know what you mean. I look at old photos and feel that sadness too. Mostly, sadness when I see my young children and know those precious baby days are gone. I spent a long time looking at a framed photo in my 18 year old son's room yesterday of us when he was around 6. Bittersweet. That's the only way to describe it.

SkylarKD said...

What an amazing post.
I've been looking back, reflecting lately on days gone by, and your words really struck a chord with me. Thank you!

Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...

You are SO my hero. Don't mind me lovin' on you a bit.

You know, these words are okay to say to yourself now, too, when you're feeling a little Bluesday comin' on, or maybe a tad ruined. This definitely, most certainly, whole-heartedly applies to you now, as well. Ok? Ok.

Off to read it again to help apply to me, too. :)

Jessica said...

I love this. I know you commented once that it's hard for you to receive grace and I battle that constantly. It's easy for me to believe that other people's mistakes are covered by Grace, but I don't always believe that mine are . . . but like you so beautifully described, they are all part of making you who you are, and the paradox is that the slate is always clean. Amazing. Glorious, and amazing. thanks for the reminder!

mom of boys said...

A beautiful post, yes, but my heart flipped a little when I saw the title. :)

Peanut said...

I've come back to read this one so many times. I wonder if in another 10 years, we'll look back at ourselves now and say the same thing.

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