I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. Psalm 116: 1-2
I’ve had all sorts of nicknames over the years: Wess, Wessie, Wessica, Dess, Hess, Hess Hess, Evil Hess Hess (one of my favorites), J Healy, J Dogg, J Money, Jesseeka, Presh.. but Messy Jessie is the OG. It sticks, and it sure fits now more than ever.
I want to write about one million things, but to do that, it’s so important you know where I’m at.. and how I even got here.
This post is hard.
If you have a past, looking back can be so difficult; it’s not something we generally enjoy recalling or sharing. 20/20 hindsight is a beast, and the endless shoulda-coulda-woulda’s can easily drag us into this zombie-like state of regret that can affect so many other areas of our lives if we don’t heal right. It’s maddening, which explains why it’s so natural for us as humans to ignore, bury, and run from our messes.
We live in a world that doesn’t really do messy; it’s just not normal or appealing. It’s not what we find ourselves openly discussing, at least not comfortably. Messy doesn’t look quite as nice as all those fluffy quotes and verses do captioned under Instagram photos. People want to be told how good they look, how awesome they are, and what great things they’re doing. The last thing we want to do is come off weak or imperfect.
I’m going to take a step out here and do just that for the sake of keeping it real in a world that is becoming less and less real by the tweet. Now you all know from my last post that I have this driving force to eliminate all small talk. Nothing here is rigged or embellished. In fact, I cut out a good eight-thousand words so you wouldn’t hate me for baring my soul this early in the game or in one insanely exhaustive blog post.
If you know me, you know my past is a bit rough… the person I was, the poor decisions I made, the bad situations I found myself in, the people I hurt, the people I was hurt by, how depressed and empty I was.
In every way possible, I am a fixer. I pour out all aspects of myself into others, completely investing my time, energy, heart, and anything else I can muster up in order to come beside them in whatever way, shape, or form is necessary to help, protect, and love them. I have this terrible ability to forsake all known reason and sense for the sake of others, especially when they’re hurting. I refer to this as a “savior complex” which doubles as a giant gateway to enabling people to both manhandle and run my life.
I’m also an absorber; I unintentionally and wholeheartedly hijack other people’s problems. If you’ve seen those mobster movies that I do not condone watching at all, I am basically your problem’s hitman. If I can’t fix it, I will take it out back and bury it. I’m not quite sure where this crazy sense of loyalty comes from, but it’s there.. and now you understand how real it is because I’ve just compared it to mobsters. I’d say I carry the weight and feel others’ burdens as if they were my own, but for unknown reasons, I bear them all the more because they do not belong to me. To top off all this madness, I manage to somehow attribute all mishaps and failures met along the way to myself.
Sooo basically.. I’m nuts.
This became especially evident in my high school years. Having made tons of great friends, I cherished and loved them. I’d spend all my waking moments with them, and when we weren’t hanging out, we were spending our time on AIM (ayyyye who remembers AIM?!) talking into wee hours of the night. These people became my everything, and I spent more time with them than my own family.
This desire I had to connect mixed with my crazy problem of enabling was not a good combo; it was a huge highway to drugs and alcohol. My high school years went up in smoke.. literally and a lot of it. If you knew me, you knew I was either high or on my way to getting high. Other drugs always made their rounds, but weed was my thing.
I lived my life based on others, and I found my self-worth in my friendships that eventually led to relationships. I dated some broken dudes. I had a heart to help and fix them; I’d spend all my time proving to them they were worth it, no matter how badly or how many times I was hurt by them. At such a young age, I gave my heart away easily to guys that didn’t deserve it or know what to even do with it. I was, hands-down, the world’s greatest enabler.
After high school and into college, my self-worth plummeted. I was over smoking and the whole party scene, and I wasn’t able to connect with my friends anymore because I was in school or working. Even when I was around, I felt like such an outsider. Behind the scenes, my life was spinning out of control. I didn’t know who I was anymore because my identity and value was solely based in others. Might not sound like a big deal, but I can’t even begin to tell you how lonely and depressed I was.
Naturally, this is where alcohol really came into place. Sure, it was always around, but not like this. I’d drink to drown everything out, and I’d do it alone. Back in the day, we’d all joke and say, “Let’s drink until we can’t feel feelings!” That’s exactly what my nightly intentions were, but it never really worked. No matter how many Heinekens I’d throw back, I’d always come around full circle.. right back to worthlessness.
Now throughout all these years of my chaos (some fights and drinking fines to boot), I had a Mom who spent her days being patient with me and praying for me. She figured out I was up to no good when a few bits of trouble surfaced, but she never knew just how much I got away with under her radar.
My parents got divorced when I was nine, and my mom ran straight to God. Being brought up in the Catholic scene, Mom’s new faith was a bit different from what was familiar to me back then. She put verses all over the walls, hosted Bible studies, and actually talked to me about God. I’d attend church services with her on holidays, and I was happy God was doing His thing in my Mom’s life.. but other than that, I wasn’t really having any of it myself.
Somewhere in my Heineken phase, my mom knew something was off. I wasn’t me; I was distant and lost. Instead of kindly asking if I wanted to go to the midweek church service with her, she said, “Just come.. what do you have to lose?” I remember thinking, “Absolutely nothing.” I was at my bottom. I tried explaining to her that God doesn’t need messed up people like me in His house. She told me straight up that I am exactly the kind of person He wants in His house.
So there I was.. going to church. But not just going to church. I was going to try to find something; I was seeking. That night, I got saved.. and when I say saved, I mean I gave my life to Christ. If my faith in Him was a parachute, I jumped out of the plane that night.
In that moment, I had nothing.. but Christ met me right where I was in all my brokenness and changed my everything. I didn’t have to become something to be accepted. He took me as I was, issues galore, cleaned me up and gave me a new heart.
This is a tiny snapshot of the overall mess that led me to see my need for something much more than good vibes, cute quotes, or self-help books. I needed a real savior; I needed Jesus.
I imagine a great deal of you sitting there in awe and a few of you who are probably just bored since you’ve been through plenty worse. Let me just say, there’s so much more where that came from. Through this whirlwind, I have made one million mistakes, and I have hurt people I cared about and still care about to this day.
Over the years, I have wrestled greatly with shame and guilt. I have felt cornered and crippled, not only by the weight of my own past sin and present struggles.. but by the nerfy, perfectionistic stereotype that Christians are given by the world and sadly, can oftentimes embrace and promote themselves.
I’ve wasted an incredible amount of time wishing so many things were different and longing for someone else’s squeaky clean upbringing, but I’ve learned to praise God with a thankful heart for it all because He’s proved my life to be a testimony of His unfailing grace and mercy for crazy, lost people like me.
I am not here to fool you; I am here to shout from the rooftops that I am not better, smarter, or stronger than you. What I am is a weak, broken, and flawed sinner.. all which point me over and over again to my daily need for the forgiveness, grace, mercy, and strength that can only be found in and given by Jesus Christ way back when I called out to Him that first time and all the way up to this moment.
The heart of this post and greatest point is this: no matter the messes you’ve made, the mess you are, or the mess you’re in right now.. there’s not a mess in all the world that Christ didn’t pay the price for on that cross.
A bit from Luke 18:
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14
In this parable, Jesus paints a clear picture that He’s not fooled by the exterior display of good works; it’s always a matter of the heart by acknowledging our state before Him.. one of honest brokenness.
If you’re feelin’ this post and are burdened with past or present messes, no matter what they look like, may you know that in this very moment, you are not alone. You are loved, known, and never too far gone to get right before the Lord today.
In Christ, there is freedom and forgiveness.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9