There is a term I have run into since moving to the South. It is the term “hot mess,” and it gets thrown around quite a bit. Usually by women. Usually referring to themselves.
According to Wiktionary.org, a hot mess is “a situation or object in a state of extreme disarray” or “a disheveled or unbalanced person, particularly one who is nevertheless — or therefore — attractive.” Southern slang for the win, am I right? I can’t even think of a way to put that into the New England dialect.
I do not even achieve “hot mess” status. Never one to do things by halves, when I’m messy, I go all the way. I am an awkward mess. A 5’1″ concentration of awkward who looks like she maybe should still have adult supervision. There are scars on my knees and right elbow from a tumble on the sidewalk a few weeks ago. My phone screen is cracked. Everything I own has had coffee spilled on it at least once. I try to dress well and look…decent. But the closer the end of the semester gets, the less that actually happens.
Today, I looked in the mirror. My eyebrows are in serious need of an appointment with a pair of tweezers. My hair is in a ponytail…again. Well, this is as good as it’s going to get, and I have about a 30-second window determining whether I’m on time or late for class at this point. I throw my coat over my shoulders–no time to button it. The belt is hanging at a disproportionate length on either side. A quick tug on one side confirms that it’s also twisted. My bag is on my shoulder, coffee is in one hand, phone is in the other. I carefully close the door to my room, then start speedwalking out of the building. Trip over my own feet, but remain upright, which is better than crashing to the ground. And now there is coffee down my coat sleeve. Ah, well. Just keep smiling.
You see, I’m guilty of it too. I heavily edit what appears on Facebook and Instagram. Only the truly worthy photo gets posted (which is why my Instagram is so neglected…). And I can’t take a decent selfie, so I just don’t bother. Besides, I’ve seen how long it takes to get a decent one, and I just don’t have that kind of time.
Comparison is the thief of joy. It always has been. It always will be. But social media, I think, has made it a constant part of our lives. And it lets us edit what people see so heavily that only the pretty parts of life are out there. But most of life isn’t pretty, is it?
Most of life looks like coffee spilled down your sleeve. Most of life looks like showing up to class without eye makeup and praying that no one asks you if you’re sick. Most of life looks like when you’re getting lunch, and that cute guy says hi to you, so you drop your silverware on the floor. Most of life looks like failing to check the weather before choosing your outfit, then stepping outside into the windiest day of the year wearing your flowiest skirt. And everyone looks like a troll when they wake up in the morning. Everyone.
Most of life never makes Instagram.
Most of life is messy. So aren’t the messy moments the ones that tell us the most about who we are? Isn’t it easier to embrace the mess?
It’s when I’m at my messiest that I’m forced to lean on God the most. If I weren’t messy–if I had it all together–I wouldn’t need God. But I am a mess. All the time. And that’s a good thing, because my messiness forces me to get out of the way and let God work.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of makeup. I love clothes and shoes. I appreciate a good hair day as much as anyone else. But there’s so much more to life than appearances. What if you used the three minutes you spent trying to get a good selfie for your Instagram feed and spent the three minutes with God instead? What if you spent an extra three minutes praying that people see beyond your “on fleek” eyebrows and see Christ through you instead?
In 20 or 30 years, what we posted on our Instagram feeds won’t matter. Most of us will have gained a few pounds. We’ll have at least a few glitter strands running through our hair, and crows feet around our eyes. The thing about physical beauty–it fades. Quickly.
You know what sticks around? A relationship with God.
Prov. 31:30–Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.