Get Messy Together
Kids running around, laundry on the floor, exhausted eyes and overwhelmed hearts – we all know the feeling of messy. We battle with messy relationships, messy minds, messy houses and messy situations. Most of us loathe the mess of life; we hide it from the world with hopes of painting a masterpiece of perfection for the onlookers. We are taught that messes must be quiet, buried behind closed doors and dealt with alone. Katie Finklea, a Family Advocate at The Church at Odessa, has changed her mind-set on the mess. “Jesus calls us to get messy together,” Finklea states. This one principle has revolutionized her support system, her faith and her heart to do life different. I am here to tell you that life is so much sweeter when we are willing to get messy together, when we are wanting to stand in the gaps of the world’s brokenness for one another, when we look at the difficult and remind our friends of both Jesus’ power and their purpose.
We do not always succeed at getting messy together. Sometimes our friendships, our churches and our neighborhoods lack authenticity in the hard stuff. We avoid questions that may cause discomfort, we veer from circumstances that maybe require more than we are ready to give, we turn our heads when the world shows its ugly side. We must stop running from the mess and start running toward it, armed with God’s word, His grace and His love.
Finklea and her husband have three children, their first adopted and two biological. Throughout their journey they have fostered eleven. She knew since before she got married that she would be a mother to children who do not share her DNA. I asked her if she felt called to foster and her response baffled me, she said, “The Bible mentions the words orphan and the fatherless nearly 50 times in the Old and New Testament. I don’t think it is a calling, it is a command. There are callings within the command. You do not have to be on the front line, but you can serve the front line.” Currently, that is exactly what she is doing – serving the front line as a Church Family Advocate. The role she plays allows her to witness God move in families willing to get messy. Finklea has seen restoration and rejuvenation. She has seen Community Care Teams come in and love on the beautiful and the messy, she has watched individuals get vulnerable with the hopes of doing life together. These teams pray together, they cook for one another, they listen to the hardships of the family being served, they step up and step in. One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is the gift of seeing them, truly seeing them – their mess, their struggle, their confusion, their authentic life and choosing to wrap your arms around them.
I wondered how her community care team impacted her and she responded with truth, “It has showed me what the body of Christ is supposed to be like, and I didn’t always know that. We are supposed to serve each other and serve each other well. It (Care Communities) is an intimate involvement in one another’s lives and I didn’t know if I had ever seen it previously modeled. The Live the Promise groups are truly an extension of serving one another well.” She believes whole heartedly in the model that has proven success. Her church is thriving off the Live the Promise model with 5-7 care teams wrapped around foster families and 30-40% of the church fostering/adopting. “Our church is willing to get messy together,’ Finklea beams, ‘The community allows others to see what fostering looks like and it opens the door for more families to become a part of it.”
Finklea loves her messy. She embraces the mess of her journey and refuses to shy away from the hard conversations. She dives in, fights for, and loves on the mess of strangers for hopes of their healing. Let us be Christians willing to get messy, because messy can also be a masterpiece.
Excerpt from Katie’s blog titled: Loving Well Living Well
James 1:27 uses the word “visiting” when describing orphans. The word visiting is an ongoing word of action, not simply a one-time event. Within this commandment of “visiting orphans” are individual callings. Some people are called to be foster parents and others have a place to support those families.
- This article was written by Shelbi Hales. Read more about her and her work at her blog: Love Into Freedom