Brittany Joy Cooper
Hello from the mess.
Raise your hand if you like to feel put together.
Yeah, me too.
Cue me cozying up to my laptop in the middle of my kids’ playroom in Christmas pajamas, one solitary and slightly languid hand held high. Just to get to this moment of fingers hitting keys -- this is not hyperbole, friend -- I dropped a teething baby into my kind husband’s arms and pried a frightened 5-year-old off my legs with every assurance that her room is not inhabited by witches.
These are the moments that make up my days. They’re the joyful and trying and humbling and curious snapshots that are my current vocation.
Are they beautiful? Yes. Are they tidy and “put together”? Oh my. No.
Before I was a mama, I made a living with my writing. It made sense to me. Find a client, hear the need, meet the need, repeat. When my oldest, Eleanor, was born five years ago, I retained a couple of freelance clients as I eased into this mama gig. When Calvin was born two years later, I was able to transition into being a full-time parent.
Three years after Calvin, we welcomed little Henry (aka "Smooshy") into our family. Aside from a poetry project I did for my family, I’ve done very little writing since Calvin was born. Like so many in my position, I’ve wrestled with this creative tension: What do you do when you feel God has given you a gift and it's lying dormant just beneath the surface?
Some days more than others, I feel it acutely, as if a small seedling may pop its head through the surface at any moment. Maybe I could take on some freelance clients after all. I know how to structure a business. The idea gains momentum as my creative plans take flight.
But, almost every time, the grand plans grow out of a moment fueled by two factors: way too much coffee and time away from my kiddos. When the coffee subsides and I’m back in the ring, I feel a rush of relief that I didn’t actually hit “send” on any hypothetical business emails I may have formulated in my head.
I’ve been waiting for the time when I can get it together and actually build something. You know, like a true platform with an intentional social media strategy and a polished brand. I had a writing career in the past, and maybe I’ll have one in the future when my kids are in school or when I have the time to really think this thing through.
But, also, if I wait until then, I may spontaneously combust. So, there’s that.
I was thinking on this idea today of being somewhere in the middle. This approach has seemed pretty logical to me for the past couple years. But then today, I had a different thought:
What if I got over the whole building a business deal and just chose to write, even in the mess? What if it’s actually not about getting to a cleaner, more put-together season? What if God could call me to write when eeking out one blog post is literally all I can manage in a week?
Sure, I’m in the middle (whatever that means), but I believe all of humanity is actually somewhere in the middle. Followers of Jesus like to refer to this as the “already but not yet.” Jesus already died and ushered in his kingdom and yet we wait for him to return again and make everything new. In the meantime, we work and wait and try to make Earth look more like Heaven.
He will make order out of this chaos. In the same way, every day I submit to this task of making order where there is no order. And it’s about the messiest thing I’ve ever done. Before kids, I usually felt like I was crushing it, and now I’m mostly just crushing Cheerios and Legos beneath my feet. But, in his mercy, He teaches me. Oh, how He teaches me.
So, I’m going to write from the mess. It won’t be impressive or strategic, but I pray it will be full of truth and grace. I don’t get to be put together in this season, but I pray that my weakness points to the God who ordered the chaos of the cosmos and yet loves with an intimate and profound agape love.
If you find yourself in the middle, friend, whether it’s top knots and tater tots like mine or something entirely different, you are not alone.
From the mess,