12 Nov Book Review: Beloved Mess by Kimm Crandall
For the last few months, I have desperately wanted to share my walk with Faith but have been so weary of doing so, mainly out of fear of being called out and exposed as a hypocrite and scared of what everyone might think or say.
Deep down, I know that I am not perfect and I am a far, far, FAR away from being a perfect Christian. I am a mess, to be quite frank; I swear, I gossip, I lose my cool with my kids almost every day, I don’t always read my Bible and sometimes I get so angry at God that I go days without talking to Him – or even acknowledging Him. I suffer from depression and anxiety, have a messy past that I am too tired to try sweep under the rug and a whole lot of guilt that keeps me awake at night.
I guess that in summary, I come with a truckload of “stuff” and feel like before I can speak openly about my Faith, I have to clean up my “stuff” so that I can be presentable.
The last few months have felt a lot like being stripped down to nothing and through losing everything I once deemed as important, God revealed a whole lot of truths, but truths aren’t always easy to swallow and one that I am finding particularly difficult is that I can’t always win and that failure isn’t always bad – in fact, it can be good.
You see, one of my biggest holdups is I am an overachiever. I thrive on succeeding and feel physically ill at the thought of failing; it’s why I don’t play games I suck at (why would anyone possibly play a game for hours, when they know they’re bad at it?), it’s why I hate my first attempt at a new recipe, and why I ignore the bush in the front garden knowing full well that it has died. If I am this hung up on failing at a new recipe or nurturing a plant, you can only imagine how I beat myself up when I fail at the more important things like my career or being a wife, mom, friend and Christian.
Every day, I put a mask on in fear of having my shortcomings and failures exposed, just waiting for the other foot to drop and everyone learning that I am a fraud and by no means have it all together.
I remember once writing a blog post (that was never published) that shared all the silly things that keep me up at night. You’d expect there to be things like our debt, or what I saw on the news. But no, the things that I replay over and over in my head includes the time that I worked as a waitress and slipped on the oily ramp, resulting in bubblegum milkshake being spilt all over the place (yes, I literally cry over spilt milk) or how when I used to drive D’s car, I smashed into a tree while parking and instead of just exposing the truth for what it was, I tried to lie to him in hopes of softening the blow. Truthfully speaking, the blow of knowing I was lying to him was so much worse than D finding out I had a small accident and it remains one of the worst fights we’ve ever had. It’s something I struggle to get over and part of the reason why I don’t drive and have no desire to get my drivers.
Of course, to you, each of these stories sound like insignificant moments that I should move on from with ease, but at the time, I had built up so much anxiety over my shortfalls that accepting my failures were so much worse than the actual act of failing. Truthfully, the things that keep me up at night are small incidents where I know I have disappointed someone, or let them down, it’s the times I should have said something or shouldn’t have said anything at all, it’s the times that I wish I had acted differently or hoped that things were different.
It’s kind of like when I was a kid, and I got 80% for maths, and my dad responded by saying, “why don’t you know 20% of your work?” I was so hung up on that line, that I worked out what 20% of my textbook looked like to create a visual representation, forgetting to factor in that sometimes you make silly mistakes, miscalculate, forget a step in the process or that geometry just isn’t my friend.
And even now, as I tell you this, I filter my truths… I tell you 99% of the truth because no one wants to openly admit the nitty, gritty, ugly truths, especially online where you fear someone discussing it in a Whatsapp group or screenshotting it to share with the caption, “she is losing it.”
This past weekend I read Beloved Mess by Kimm Crandall. After not being able to find a book for months, this one captured my attention from the very beginning! Besides feeling like I could write the book myself, only I’d do a less eloquent job of it, Kimm gave me hope by sharing her own truths.
Unlike so many Christian-Faith books that line the shelves of my local CUM books telling me that if I just did this or that, I’ll be a better Christian, wife, and mom, that I’ll be happier and will seemingly no longer face these struggles anymore, Kimm reminded me that God doesn’t expect me to have it together and just like I would my tantruming child, God wraps His arms around me, holds me down and keeps telling me how much He loves me – all of me, even the messy side of me.
There is so much truth and realness written in this book and through Kimm sharing her own failures, I found comfort in knowing that it’s okay that I am not always okay! What’s more is remembering that God’s grace does not discriminate and that it doesn’t have to be earned – it’s not like a reward chart, where I have to collect 10 stickers or 100 stickers in order to receive His grace – no, it’s just there for the taking, free and unconditional. That is beautiful!
There is a lot that I want to share about this book and I am sure it’s one that I’ll be talking about for a long time to come, and probably the first that I’ll read and re-read over and over again because there’s just so much to absorb and take in. There’s so much beauty to be found in our own messes and learning that we aren’t expected to do it all on our own, that while the world may fall apart around us, there’s Jesus carrying us above it all and that even when we get it all wrong and royally mess up, that God is right there ready to embrace you in His love and grace, (even especially when we don’t think we are worthy of that love and grace.)
Beloved Mess is a quick and punchy read and at the end of each chapter, there are a few questions to ask yourself or to discuss with your book club (I find these to be great prompts for journaling!). The book does an incredible job of summing up the expectations we put on ourselves, and how not meeting those expectations often leads to guilt which in turn, makes us want to hide all those shortcomings and failures. We’re sold on this idea that by doing X or Y, or that reading our Bible and praying every day will be the solution to all our problems – only, it’s not and when it doesn’t quite go that way, we feel WE are the problem, so we’re filled with feelings of guilt and shame.
In my case, that shame kept leading me astray from God – I didn’t want him to know how I was failing every day (how foolish of me to think He doesn’t already know!) so I just stayed away but over the last few months I am realizing that God’s love is stubbornly fierce and that He will hold onto me until the very end.
What a beautiful Beloved Mess we all are.
Get yours from CUM Books or online.
I am the creator behind By Megan Kelly, mom of two boys, named Axl (4-years old) and Eli (1-year old), and local business owner of Dr. Design. I live on copious amounts of coffee, spend my free time listening to podcasts while I garden or journal, and really enjoy baking fresh treats for my family. On the weekends, you’ll likely find me exploring our local city, looking for new family-friendly places for our kids, but that’s only if I am not already shouting at the soccer on TV. I support Tottenham and enjoy pretending to know what I am doing in the Fantasy League, but really I am just in it for the laughs. I can be bribed with chocolate and will never admit to having too much makeup – although, I probably do.