Making Space for the Breakthrough

Breakthroughs can come from anything. {Image credit: Lammeyer / Big Stock Photo}

Ever read something that tripped a circuit in your worldview?

A few weeks ago, as I read Paul Young’s The Shack (Windblown Media, 2007), that happened to me. In two days I discovered:

  1. There’s a reason The Shack sold over 18 million copies—its imagery and imagination are stunning.
  2. If you ponder the book’s ideas for even just a moment, you will never see God the same. Ever.

The book undid me. Words, mental pictures, and the portrayal of the relationship God longs to have with us in life… they ripped open this perfection-loving straight-A student’s heart and flooded it with some kind of joy/peace/intrinsic-okayness it can’t remember ever knowing. Leaving me with the question that I’ve pondered every day since (and quite a few middle-of-the-nights, too):

What could life be like if I recognized God’s heartbeat in every moment? If I let Him show me what it really is to relate with Him instead of religion with Him?

The thought tore through my normal. Caused a breakthrough in something inside that I can’t even totally put a finger on right now. All I know is that it’s making this transition with my daughter coming home a little easier. And that it’s causing me to be a little spacier than usual as questions rattle around inside.

Of course, my family was happy to chill out and give me space for my breakthrough. For two days, nobody pestered asked me for another cup of juice, nobody fought over whose Lego structure was whose, and my husband didn’t even ask me where he left his keys. It was idyllic, the perfect scenario in which to have your view of simple things like the God of the Universe flipped on their head…

Ha! Not. Even. Close.

You know from breakthroughs you’ve seen—whether long-sought, or unexpected—

True breakthroughs make a mess.

There’s crumbled rock, busted-through walls, leftover bolts that held up what held you back in your life and faith. There’s traffic, arguments, whining kids, your own fears, and your boss’s irrational demands.

Breakthroughs are a mess because they happen right in the middle of our messy lives.

We need to find a way to be okay with the mess today. To know that life won’t take a break, our kids won’t sit quietly and play like angels, and our husbands won’t suddenly decide to put their clothes in the hamper instead of the floor. And that the breakthrough won’t be less spectacular because life’s still happening.

We also need to choose to make a little space in our lives for the mess. To evaluate what we can and can’t commit to that moment, that day, that season, and choose conservatively what we’ll pursue. Because as those walls come down, debris will clutter our heart and world—those leftover perceptions, the shock of change, the need for some time to reflect. The act of living itself is a big ‘ol inconvenient crazy mess. How can we expect breakthroughs to be any tidier?

So let’s be OK with that mess, just for today. Maybe even plan a little extra space in our lives for when it comes.

We’ll have time to clean up the rubble when the dust settles.


Share the love. . .Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookEmail this to someonePin on PinterestPrint this page


  1. says

    When your baby is 8 months old, I don’t even know if you have time for one of those breakthroughs! Maybe my brain is just giving me a break. 🙂 Seriously love your heart, and I’m so glad that Holley brought us together!
    PS: Does your husband leave a trail of dirty laundry from the door to the bathroom? Because mine does. And he’s in construction, so it’s usually damp and smells awful. Why do husband’s smell so bad at the end of the day? 🙂

    • says

      …and the beginning of the day, too? 🙂 Maybe so there’s still this relative “you smell great” factor for us, even when covered in spit up with babies swarming us! And I don’t know, I think baby season is full of breakthroughs, just not always yours. It’s always seemed like more of a “watching this teeny-tiny brand new person have breakthroughs 10 times a day” sort of season for me.

  2. says

    Love this piece Laurie!! Wouldn’t it be so nice if we were in a log cabin alone for days to really work through all those breakthroughs that hit us like an avalanche? But the dishes need cleaning and the kids need caring and the world goes on…while we slowly and carefully pick up the millions of pieces of tiny scattered heart, and try to glue them back in a way that fits better than before… Ah yes, my friend. This is good…

    • says

      Ah, yes, how to do the dishes, care for the kids, keep the world spinning… and pick up the millions of pieces of scattered heart (I LOVE that phrase, btw!). That in-flight repair scenario…. the only thing I know is it requires a willingness to keep putting one foot in front of the other and, of course, copious amounts of chocolate! 🙂