Why Creation is a Messy Process

It all began with my suitcase.

I recently returned from a five day trip to Texas to see family and friends and attend a writer’s conference in the Austin area. I packed way too many clothes and shoes. And books. (One always miscalculates the amount of ‘free time’ to read while on a trip.) In fact, when I checked into our airport in Seattle, my suitcase was three pounds overweight. I had to do some quick reshuffling to manage everything. Sigh. Out with the laptop, out with the pillow (yes, I travel with my pillow). Out with the shoes. Buy new shopping bag to sling over my shoulder. Sigh again.

Besides gleaning some nuggets of truth from the folks I heard at the three- day conference, I also began mentally gleaning my wardrobe. Weird, I know, but God often uses my physical life as an object lesson to illustrate what he’s doing inside me.

One of the gifts of getting older is finding out what you like and don’t like, what you love and what you can live without. Not only with words but in this case, with my wardrobe. I was processing new discoveries about ways of looking at my writing, adding them to the mix of my current mindset, but my mind was over-full. My overflowing suitcase matched my over-stuffed mind.

Some things needed to go to make room for these new ideas.

One of the conference speakers relayed the ideas of looking at our writing through orientation, disorientation and reorientation. I love learning about words and their root meaning. When I got home I looked up the word ‘orient’–from the Latin, ‘oriens’ meaning ‘rising sun’. When we are facing ourselves in the right direction—towards the Son—Jesus—things feel right. But when God is doing something new we feel disoriented.

We often dislike the feeling of being disoriented, so we try to pass over it too quickly to eliminate the uneasy feelings. But God is often there in the mess. In fact, He is always there in the mess. Maybe we need to take time to process and work through what’s there so we can learn from it.


I returned from my trip on a Saturday evening. The next day I thought about rushing off to church to be with family and friends in worship. But something pulled me towards dealing with my overstuffed suitcase. I needed to get rid of some of my clothes; most of my clothes. My husband kissed me goodbye and left me to my project.20170219_154157

I was determined to go through two closets (two!) and two dressers (seriously?), keep what I knew I loved and would wear again and get rid of all the rest.The process took me most of that day and little of the next. By the time I finished I had two big plastic blue Ikea bags full to the brim.

It’s hard to explain how much lighter I felt. Not only did I have more room in my closets, I could actually see what I had.  Clearly I don’t need anything new to wear, what I have now is the ability to put things together in a new way that feels right to me. I felt reoriented, creative.


Creation is like that, whether we’re writing a poem, planting a garden or building a piece of furniture. It often begins with the mess of feeling disoriented while things are undone and all over the place. Stuff needs to be moved around, thrown out, cut down, laid all over the floor.

I think we need the disorientation process more than we know. The song ‘Simple Gifts’ has the lines about ‘turning, turning, til we come out right.’ Our lives are a continual turning towards the Son to see what needs changing, throwing away, cutting back. When we embrace the disorientation process we’re better able to see what new and beautiful creations God has to give through us.

What mess is God calling you to make today? What have you gone through that’s led to something new? Please share in the comments.

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Simple Gifts” is a Shaker song written and composed in 1848 by Elder Joseph Brackett. You can hear Judy Collins singing it here.

8 thoughts on “Why Creation is a Messy Process

  1. Jody,
    Loved your post. Like you, I pack too many books 🙂 And yes, I try to avoid the messy middle but when I finally stop resisting, it is often where I find God 🙂 in new, reorienting ways 🙂

    1. Oh, Dolly, we writers/readers are funny people, eh? You are so right, when we cease resisting the messy middle, we do indeed find surprises. So glad this spoke to you.

  2. I like your thoughts on disorientation. That’s what I’m feeling right now with getting ready to move, waiting to find out where my daughter will be going to college next year. You encourage me to not pass over this season.

    1. hmmmmm, Megan, that is a lot to consider, especially the moving part. Well, the daughter part, too. We walk through our own unsettling and carry our children’s too, which I think is more of a weight, given our mom hearts.
      May God be close to you in this season.

  3. Jody – I was chuckling to myself as I read the first few lines…. yep, I always pack way to much of everything, but especially books. LOL you would think I would learn, but nope.. Oh and I live in the PNW too…. in fact, I saw the picture of the bridge above and was immediately drawn to it, and thought, that it might look like it came from around here somewhere. I appreciate your diffing deeper into the meaning of the word, wow! so insightful. I am delighted to be your neighbor at #TellHisStory

    1. Debbie, it looks like we’re ‘neighbors’ in the link up and (almost) neighbors in life. Thanks for reading and reaching out. God bless you.

  4. Oh, boy, Jody – do I ever know what you mean about taking too many clothes and books on a trip! I have gotten better about whittling it down so that I only have one suitcase and one carry on, plus a book bag for reading in flight.
    What I try and remind myself of now (especially when I’m going to NC to care for my Mom, age 91) is to remember that she has reading materials also:) and yes, I can take a break from my current reading in order to enjoy some different magazines, books, etc.
    Thank you for the reminders that God is with us in the mess and “that our lives are a continual turning towards the Son, to see what needs changing, throwing away, and cutting back.”

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