The Mess

The Place Where Shame Collides With Grace

Holi festival

Photo Credit: allison_b216 via Compfight cc

Welcome to The Mess.

I hope The Mess will be a space where we can, with timid-trembling joy, declare:

“Life is messy.” It’s blood-sweat-and-tears messy. It’s anxiety and sadness and embarrassment messy. It’s tragic and unpredictable. And absolutely beautiful. Not despite the mess, but because of the mess.

“We are messy.” We are messy creatures living this messy life. We’re fragile and broken and confused. We are the opposite of perfect—we are a perfect mess. Quirks and failures and insecurities and triumphs and blissful moments and all. We are a glorious mess.

“The problem is not mess; the problem is shame.” We’ve been trained to be ashamed of our mess. We have been lied to about our brokenness. We have been convinced it makes us unworthy of love and belonging. Shame is the belief that what is inside of us is not good enough. It’s the belief that if people really knew us we would be deemed unlovable, unacceptable, worthy only of rejection, or worse, disinterest. Shame is a lie we swallowed before we could discern reality from fiction. So it feels real. But it just isn’t

“We are declaring war on shame.” Here at The Mess, we have the opportunity to embrace the messy places in our lives and in our selves as a battleground. We have a choice: to hide our mess and create the very secrecy upon which shame thrives, or to embrace our mess and make ourselves available to grace. 

“Only grace has the power to heal our shame.” Harboring the belief that what is inside of us is not good enough, we begin to search outside of us for substitute sources of worth, such as status, affluence, power, certainty, and victory. But these proxies for worth are all dead ends. We become addicted to them and our sense of worth is further diminished. The only genuine weapon against shame is grace. Because grace is the assurance we are good enough, even in the midst of our mess and brokenness. To be clear, grace does not make us worthy—rather, it testifies to the worth already existing within each of us. Grace is not an idea or an object to be obtained. Grace is an on-going event, created in relationship. It cannot be possessed, it can only be experienced.

“Shameless living is a rebellion.” People who have embraced the mess—shameless people—start a lot of trouble in this world. They can’t be controlled or dominated with fear and shame. So they are absolutely free to love gracefully and to live fully with a reckless abandon. And this makes the shameless people the true revolutionaries. How about you? Want to join the freedom of a glorious, messy revolution?

An Image of Grace

A friend and follower of the blog introduced me to his culture’s festival, Holi. It is a Spring festival celebrating new beginnings. During the joyous festival, social norms are dissolved and the gaps between age, gender, status, and caste are bridged. In a word, it’s a mess. And it’s absolutely beautiful. I think it makes for a breathtaking image of grace raining down upon us. Enjoy.

[If you are viewing this somewhere besides UnTangled and the video does not appear, click here to go to The Mess webpage.]

My Blog Posts Related to Mess, Shame, and Grace

The Power of Vulnerability

Brene Brown is a leading authority on shame and increasing shame resilience via courageous vulnerability.

To visit Brene Brown’s blog, click here.

For additional resources or to purchase her book, Daring Greatly, click on the badge below:

I Am Daring Greatly

To view her 2010 Tedx Talk, click on the video below:


[If you are viewing this somewhere besides UnTangled and the video does not appear, click here to go to The Mess webpage.]

The Hall of Shame

This is the place where your voice is heard and echoed. The Hall of Shame will consist of 100% reader contributions. Tell me/us what inspires you in the war against shame—quotes, music, videos, blog posts, books, you name it—and I will post select items here. 

“Shame” by Ze Frank (2/20/13)


“To This Day Project” by Shane Koyczan (3/3/13)

A blog post submitted by Carrie:

“Shame is a bully and Grace is a shield.” Click here for the full post.

A quote submitted by MofE:

“We should have indulgence with our soul and its infirmities and imperfections, and have patience with its defects.” ~St. Seraphim

Join the Conversation!

Do you have thoughts to share about shame and grace? Have you come across resources that have been healing for you? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below. Just remember, we aren’t healed by the idea of grace—our shame is healed by the experience of grace. So, if you are speaking of grace but not doing so gracefully, you are robbing grace of its power and giving it a bad name. Let’s be graceful, and let’s start a rebellion.