There’s a theme in the titles of books I’ve written. Most of them include the word pure. Even my blog title includes pure. It began with a quest to discover what is pure about the purpose of our lives and continued to explore many other aspects. It takes a lot of effort and discernment to untwist our assumptions, wishes, and misunderstandings from truth. We rarely encounter pure truth, because a lot of stuff gets twisted up in it. But when you practice untwisting, you can at least catch of glimpse of the possibilities. You believe less untruth because truth stands out more.
But it’s not easy, because life is messy and confusing and painful.
One of my best friends and I were texting one night. She was struggling through some things, and to say this year hasn’t been my favorite is definitely an understatement. She has been a huge encouragement to me, and hopefully I’ve been the same to her through the years.
One of her texts contained a simple admission:
I know you get it. It’s just ridiculously unfair. I know it’s not really. God is good. He has a perfect plan.
Then a pause before my phone notified me of this:
Have you ever thought of writing a book called Pure Ugh?
I’m sure it would fly off the shelves!
I laughed. Then admitted I really didn’t like the idea that either of us could be an expert on the topic. We decided the full title would either be Pure Ugh: I Can’t Even or Pure Ugh: This Can’t Be Happening. Then the bitmojis began to fly between us.
Before long, we were both laughing through our tears. After all, isn’t that an important part of the pure ugh of lives: finding friends who are willing to commiserate with you but only for a certain length of time, because at some point, you both just have to laugh at yourselves?
We don’t like to think that the “ugh” of life can be pure. But it can. God can filter anything for us if we’re willing to trust him and his perspective even when we don’t understand. We may not feel the strength, but he is still strong. We might believe we’re clueless and confused, but he is wise. We might think we’re helpless, but he’s powerful. We might believe we have control, but we don’t. We have responsibility but not control.
We want clean lives we can make sense of. We want to define what “clean” includes: simple, abundant, easy, smooth, satisfying, successful, and so on. But how will we really know clean without a cleaning process, and how can we go through a cleaning process without some mess in life? And how can we even expect to live an unmessy life when the world is simply a messy place to live?
Sometimes it feels and looks like pure ugh to us.
But through the context of that ugh comes beauty and wholeness, healing and cleaning, refinement and redemption.
So maybe the ugh isn’t so bad as long as we remember to let God purify us through it.