7: A Beautiful Mess

7: A Beautiful Mess

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Tough Times

A Beautiful Mess

By Diane Stark

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

~1 Thessalonians 5:11

“He left me,” I whispered into the phone. “He said he didn’t love me anymore.”

“Oh, sweetheart, I’m so sorry,” my stepfather, Doug, said. “Your mom and I are here for you. Whatever you need, you can count on us.”

When my mother’s husband made that promise, I’m sure he didn’t realize how much it would involve. I’m sure he didn’t plan on having his stepdaughter and her two young children move in with him. But it happened, and he was wonderful about it.

I should have been grateful, but I was too wrapped up in my own pain to notice the sacrifices others were making. I cried a lot and ate next to nothing. Sadly, I abdicated much of my parenting responsibilities to my mom and Doug.

Shortly after moving in, I began to find little notes on my dresser. But they weren’t from my mom; they were from Doug. My favorite one read, “If you ever need a shoulder to cry on, the Lord gave me two of them. They’re big and strong, and they’re available anytime you need them.”

I went downstairs and made good use of that shoulder. When I’d finally stopped crying, Doug said, “What’s the hardest part of this for you?”

I shrugged. “My life is a mess.”

“You may see a mess, but God sees it as an opportunity for growth. He’s molding your heart and drawing you to Him. It may be a mess, but it’s a beautiful one.”

I was definitely a mess, but there was nothing beautiful about it.

In the silence, Doug added, “God isn’t nearly as concerned with where we’ve come from as He is with where we’re going. And you’re heading in the right direction, honey.”

I muttered a thank-you and went back upstairs.

Two days later, I found a small plaque in my room. It read, “God gave you 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one of them to say thank you?”

I wanted to ignore the little sign. I wanted to say, “Thank Him for what? My life is a mess, remember?” But I couldn’t. I couldn’t deny the evidence that God still loved me. I still had my children, and we had a roof over our heads and food to eat. Despite everything, we were okay. And God was there — I could feel Him. He loved me. He’d never left me, and He never would.

Sobbing, I got down on my knees and thanked God for the beautiful mess my life had become. I thanked Him for His love and His faithfulness to my children and me. But most of all, I thanked Him for a man named Doug, who had become so much more than just my mother’s husband. For all his patience and persistence, Doug was now my second dad.

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