Leading in Difficult Times

Jill Ellis | Contributing Blogger | Lifetime Learner

As a female raised in the southern United States, we bless everything and that’s not always a compliment. So naturally, when life gets hot and messy I want to bless it and not in a soft-spoken way but from a place of true grit and tenacity that have sustained me through many difficult seasons of life. However, now I’m a little older and possibly a little wiser, and the stakes are certainly a little higher.

“Bless this mess” is a relatable, quotable phrase that adorns creative signs, mugs, and t-shirts. However, it’s becoming somewhat of an anthem for me based on the meaning versus the catchiness. This little phrase has been on my heart lately, and it’s the guiding thought that walks me through this season of life.

Being stretched across priorities that encompass three states, three generations, and an emerging business is not an unusual passage.  There are many of my friends walking through similar places with some having more and others having less, but it all comes to the same feeling that can leave you drained and empty unless you recognize it’s going to be a mess and stop trying to make it neat, tidy, organized, or structured. I will admit I thrive on making sense of chaos and random or scattered pieces that don’t seem to fit on the surface. I love a hidden story and this season is no different. One day seems like chaos the next is calm and all the variations in-between.

Discovering the hidden story is about going below the surface. It’s not about the piles of unending laundry, the unrelenting list of tasks to accomplish, or the feeling of exhaustion from miles of driving and hours of conference calls and planning sessions. It’s about who and why. Just an example of what I think of when I think of my who and why:

  •  My parents because they walked through the valleys with my brother and I and never left our side. They told us how to love well, even when they weren’t able to be physically present they were always with us. It’s my responsibility and privilege to honor them in a season where their needs are changing.
  • My husband because he’s the person that completes me and never stops loving even when the storms rage and we are holding on to pieces. He deserves the same commitment.
  • Our children because it’s our responsibility to prepare them for adulthood and teach them to honor and love well. The teen years are a roller coaster ride, and we’ve just begun, but we cannot give up or back down just because it’s difficult.
  • My extended family because they are all dealing with similar issues and we are in this together and should support each other.
  • My friends because they are chosen family, and they serve a purpose in this story. It’s the giving and receiving of help with each other. It’s a carousel that goes round and round and sometimes up and down. We fill the gaps for each other and don’t expect anything in return–you just do it.
  • My colleagues because we are not just building a business we are building up people. Our team DNA is rooted in our love for the hospitality industry. We want to serve others, and in the process, we are also building each other up and allowing each to grow into his or her strengths and natural talents. All while navigating what life brings our way. Our people matter.

These relationships are a direct connection to the purpose of my life. They are all a part of my story. So for today, I want to embrace this with joy and see the beauty and meaning.

A few reflections about blessing the mess:

  • The people in your life are there for a reason. Honor them even when that means you cannot keep your to-do list on track.
  • Recognize when you are in a messy season and know it’s just a season that will pass. Look for the good.
  • Know your who and why.
  • Use your experience to encourage another person that may be a few steps behind you.
  • Look for others that may have traveled through a similar season and tap into their encouragement.
  • Love and forgive yourself and reject the lie of perfectionism or comparison.
  • Discover your hidden story in the mess.





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